Does Nursing and stress go together?
You might say yes to this question because you read about stressed out nurses all the time and if you’re a nurse you have experienced these feelings at some point in your nursing career.
I know from my own experience of being a nurse for a long time, I’ve had a few painful symptoms of what is called Compassion Fatigue or Caregivers Fatigue.
Not fun and also not healthy nor are you a role model for your patients. Productivity deceases, job dissatisfaction increases.
That once energetic, upbeat, ready to help anyone at a moments notice nurse is no longer present.
But does it really have to be that way?
While there is always going be some amount of stress with the work that we nurses do, it is within our power to mange compassion fatigue by having daily rituals or habits in place to combat that stress monster who tries to creep in from time to time.
Here are 7 of my best tips I’ve learned along the way on how you can manage your stress.
Can you pinpoint what’s causing your irritable or angry outbursts. Maybe it’s the nurse you work with who never seems to pull her weight or your spouse is doing something that really ekes you? Identify what is causing your stress and work on managing it or drop it all together.
Do you have something you do to help you relax such as taking a bubble bath or going for a walk. My favorite thing to do after a stressful day at work is to come home and just sit for 15 – 30 minutes doing nothing but deep breathing exercises, closing my eyes and chilling, letting my mind and body relax. I do this first before I start my evening routine of making supper, spending time with my husband and working on my online business.
Find something that relaxes you. Living a happy and healthy life depends on it.
Be aware of the times you are reaching for food and the type of foods your reaching for. Get rid of the fatty, scratchy, sugary and salty foods. These foods are bad for the brain, elevating your stress level, not helping it. If you need to reach for food make sure it’s fruits, vegetables – foods high in protein and fiber. You’ll feel so much better, I guarantee it!
I can’t tell you how many nurses I have worked with over the years who work on their days off, never take vacation and stay long after their shift has ended. I admit, I was one of these nurses early on in my career but Not Anymore! It is the quickest way to burn out! Take your days off, go met with a friend, take a walk, go for a drive in the country and defiantly take vacation. Even if you don’t go anywhere, take the time off. You will be a better person to the rest of us who are around you for 8 – 12 hours a day.
On your days off or in the evening, do something fun. Go out with friends, sign up for a yoga class or join a club. Indulge in your hobby, what ever it is you really like to do. Get back in touch with the fun side of you. And if you don’t know what that is ask yourself, what did you love to do as a child? What made you laugh? What I love most is the outdoors. I have since I was very young, when my siblings and I used to spend our days back at the frog pond near our home, catching frogs, fishing and exploring the area.
Now, my husband and I (along with our two dogs Bandit and Duke) go camping or backpacking. We have fun exploring the back country, sleeping out under the stars and totally unpluged. I feel like a new person when I get back, it’s the best medicine for me.
Or do you complain on social media sites about your job or patients you’ve taken care of that day. Don’t do it, you are setting yourself up to violate HIPPA laws or worst, getting fired. Leave your work at work. Discuss your dissatisfaction with your job with your supervisor or whom ever can help you with your problems. If a career change is on the horizon, than start taking steps to make a change. Don’t complain about it, do something about it.
Get away from the TV or the computer and get out there! Take a walk, join a gym, got bike riding, join a dance class and learn Zamba or Pole Dancing. Do something that gets the heart pumping, flexes your muscles and is fun. I love to walk but I also love yoga and have just joined a yoga class. Exercising has so many benefits but for me it helps me to stay focused.
Whatever gets you up off the couch and gets you out there, DO IT!
I’ll also throw in positive thinking to this list. Get rid of the negative thoughts and start hanging out with positive thinking people, it’s empowering and feels sooooo good. Of course some will say this is easier said then done so this is topic for another post.
This is not new information but needs reminding because nurses are the worst group of people who take care of others first before taking care of ourselves.
I want nurses to think of themselves first, finding what feeds your mind, body, and soul, creating a mindset of rituals or habits that last a lifetime and make you happy.
Now I would like to know what you do to avoid caregiver fatigue? Leave a comment below, let’s help each other become happy, healthier people.
Tina Lanciault RN here, helping all nurses create a life and career they love. Check out the Getting Started Page for detailed information to help you succeed.