5 Ways to Manage Stress on the Job
How many of us have gone to the doctor for a routine check up and been told we need to learn to manage our stress? Blood pressure is too high, cortisol levels elevated, a root cause for other ailments, stress is not good for us. However, it’s easier said than done. Extended periods of stress can lead to lasting affects on our physical, mental and emotional health. For healthcare professionals, remaining calm and level in high stress situations can also mean the difference between saving or losing a patient. So what do you do? Here are five strategies to help you stress less.
1. Identify Your Stressors
The first step in managing your stress is to pinpoint what stresses you out and how to respond. Common stressors for travel nurses include long shifts, tough assignments, chaotic work environments, and little to no orientation or precepting, to name a few. It’s unrealistic to think that you can eliminate stress in the workplace, but there are steps you can take to identify your triggers, and find ways to cope. Experts recommend keeping a journal, so you can track your stressors during a typical workweek, and find patterns in your reactions to those stressors.
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2. Form Positive Relationships
Sometimes, the best way to relieve stress is by talking it out with someone. Having positive relationships with your coworkers and supervisors can significantly impact your mental state at work, and gives you an outlet to talk about what’s stressing you out. Whether it’s someone who works in your unit, a mentor, or even the security guards, having someone you can lean on for emotional support makes your work environment much less intimidating. Also, many nurses tend to bond with the patients they care for, and even if you’re not best friends with any of your patients, a simple friendly conversation can help relieve your stress, as well as theirs.
3. Focus on Self-Care
This can be tricky as a nurse, but try and make self-care a priority. Start your day off with a healthy breakfast. Even if it’s just a yogurt or a hard boiled egg, having food in your system when you start your shift can help ease anxiety. Aerobic exercise can be challenging when you’re working long hours and trying to catch up on sleep, so we recommend free at-home workouts, many of which you can do in 30 minutes or less!
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It’s also important to focus on your mental health, not just physical. Try to schedule breaks throughout the day, and do your best to stick to that schedule. If you can’t get a break and you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a few moments to just breathe deeply and recenter yourself.
4. Organize and Prioritize
For a lot of people, stress can be described as a feeling of being out of control and overwhelmed. So we say, take that control back! Establish a daily routine, prioritizing tasks and setting some goals for the day. This can help you manage your time and feel accomplished each day. Some people are more adept at this than others, so if you’re just starting off, try apps such as Any.do that can act as your virtual planner. In addition, start with small goals like, “I will wake up 10 minutes early every morning and do 5 push-ups.” If you do it, reward yourself with a little something extra with your coffee or tea. You’ll be amazed by how impactful these small victories can be.
5. Keep Perfectionism in Check
It is admirable to strive to be the best, but more often than not, chasing perfection can be a detriment to your well-being. Nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. However, professions such as nursing have a very slim margin for error, which adds even more pressure. For nurses, it’s important to be able to forgive yourself when you make a mistake, and try to learn from it. There may be forces at work that you can’t control, so spend your time focusing on what you can control. All you can do is put your best foot forward, and reward yourself for good effort. You’ll find that when you stop worrying about being perfect, your quality of work will actually improve.
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