The lion share of stress in nursing is self induced and self perpetuated.
A competent nurse can work safely only when he/she is working at the pace of one competent nurse. NEVER exceed that pace. When you do, for whatever reason, not only will stress skyrocket, but the door to ineffiiciencies and disasters will begin to open.
Of course, the ability to increase that pace will be proportional with practice. But, situations will invariably arise when the pressure to exceed the safe pace will come knocking hard on the door of good sense.
That's when a nurse's self-esteem and self-respect will be tested. And it is the development of these characteristics that will make or break, not only the career of the individual, but of nursing as a legitimate profession.
Do not accept assignments that are beyond your clinical ability. When presented with such, or when they escalate out of control, demand help.
If the nurse does not, he/she, without doubt, will take the fall.
Nursing sudents must be taught that their safety and professional well being come first. Saying, "no" to assignments or tasks that are either too demanding to maintian safety, or ramp out of control, will engender respect.
If it brings reprimand, cynicism, condescension, or managerial resistence, then it's time for a new position.
Not asking for help will create an instant breeding ground for stress and discontent.
Expect and practice equality.
Practice saying, "Your [behavior/condescension/rudeness/yelling/etc.] is unacceptable and is an embarassment to your proferssion." You will be too upset to think it when it's needed.
Your desk is yours. Your report is vital. Don't hesitate to take it when the time comes. Don't go searching for charts for others. They're around.
Stop apologizing for doing your job. If the doctor is supposed to put in orders, make them do it. God knows, you have enough to do and they will not very receptive when you ask them to help you with a turn or insert an ng tube. If you have to wake up a doc for a good reason, it's not about him, or you, or the price of Bahamian swordfish. It's about care. The CEO will not apologize to you after you get sprayed with sputum from disonnected vent tubing.
In general, do not clean up after others. If they made a mess, they can help clean it. It is this kind of everyday behavior that perpetuates the die-hard, nurse-as-maid identity.
Require that they wash their hands according to contemporary standards of infection control. It's not about them, it's about the patient.
When approached without the courtesy of a, "Good morning, or hello," I simply say, "I'm fine..how are you?"
I say it with a smile and, in ten years, it has never never failed to create the expectation of respect and decency to the interaction.
"Yeah, but you're a guy!"
Well, fuhgettaboutit!! Respect is behavior specific, not gender specific.
Unless your patient's crashing, take your break and take your lunch. No one cares how many you've skipped. And it's is not a badge of honor. Rather, it says, "My well being is not important. And I will fulfill whatever demand you place upon me because I am a nurse and this is my calling!"
Why don't you just throw yourself on a pointy stick while you're at it.
Take a stand...be a true advocate for not only your patient..but more importantly...for yourself.