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5 Strategies Nurses Use for Coping with Stress

Career News July 4, 2013

Nursing is a fulfilling yet stressful profession. Nurses spend an enormous amount of energy in caring for and about the patients in their charge. It is an extremely demanding occupation that can be filled with long hours and excessive pressure. That is why it’s essential that nurses recognize these strong demands that are put upon them. They must find ways to deal with the emotional, physical, and psychological impact this encompassing profession can cause, so they do not suffer undue consequences.

A nurse who does not learn how to manage stress and pressure that comes with this unique and much needed profession may find themselves damaged. Employees who are stressed tend to miss days at work, impact the morale of their colleagues and ultimately perform poorly at their job.

This harm may easily be avoided. When a nurse is proactive in dealing with their personal stress from their work environment, positive results ensue. A nurse who manages their stress levels will be happy, energized, and eager to grow professionally. These nurses will have the ability to maintain a positive outlook for themselves and those they serve. Here are five strategies a nurse may use to help them cope with their occupational stress.

5 Ways a Nurse Can Easily Manage Occupational Stress

Sleep Well

A nurse tends to work long shifts. These long hours may result in sleep deprivation. A lack of sleep is hard on the mental, physical and emotional state of just about anyone. A good night’s sleep helps a person manage stress. A recent study showed that a person who is awake for 17 hours, their performance level is similar to that of a person with a blood alcohol level of .05%. This important information should not be taken lightly. A nurse must sleep well at night in order to function and ward off stress during her job. These coping strategies for stress can make a worn nurse healthy and happy.

Move Quickly

While there are times a nurse must pause and reflect upon their day it is just as important that they counteract the hormones released when one is stressed by physically moving. With daily regular exercise, whether it’s walking, biking, or working out at the local gym, the physiological benefits are amazing. A nurse should set aside a time each day to “work out” the stresses that have accumulated from a day’s activities. Exercise relieves tension and helps the body stay healthy in all ways.


Nurses see pain in many forms. Their patients and family members may experience both physical and emotional pain. Watching this over and over day after day may dampen the spirit of a nurse. That is why humor can play such an important role. Humor can lighten the heart of a nurse and keep life in perspective. Milton Berle once said, “Laughter is an instant vacation,” A nurse who can laugh will immediately nurture both the people they work with as well as themselves.

Have a Hobby

Studies show that individuals who have a hobby outside of work tend to be happier all of the time. A nurse, when off duty should engage in a hobby. Intently focusing on this activity will allow a mental vacation from work related thoughts. A hobby may take the shape of vacations, holidays and free time as well. Use these breaks to feed a personal need or dream. The hobby can be all in the planning. Having done this, a nurse who comes to work rested and recharged will perform better and maintain a stronger more balanced emotional state of mind.

Be Balanced

A nurse must work hard and play hard. All people must learn to balance their personal life and professional life. But, for a nurse, it is imperative not to skip this important step. A professional nurse will make sure they are taking the time to “play” when not at work. There must be a distinct separation, so that clearly the play time does not coincide with work activities. One way to ensure this separation is to practice “breathing.” This may take the form of deep thought, prayer or yoga. By pausing and enjoying some calm during the transition, a more defined separation can result. This will be the key to keeping play time and work acutely differentiated.

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