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Conquering Stress and Anxiety - A Guide for Nurses

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As fast as new nurses are entering the workforce, established nurses are planning to go part-time, retire or exit the field. The American Nurses Association (ANA) reports that over 700,000 nurses are projected to leave the labor force by 2024. Knowledge is power, and education can do much to prepare nurses for today's fast-paced health care environment. Degree advancement also helps nurses secure better positions with better working conditions and pay. Today's online learning options provide flexibility previously unavailable to the working nurse, through MSN and Nurse Educator programs.

The Road Map Out of Stress and Anxiety

Is there a solution? Are there things that nurses can do individually and collectively? The good news is that stress and anxiety relieving tactics that address these issues are available.

  • Seek a different position on a lower-acuity floor or seek a lower-stress nursing position, such as public health nurse, school nurse, nurse educator or nurse administrator. It's not always easy to pick up and change positions. Nurses have a strong sense of loyalty. Instead of choosing to leave for a job with more life/work balance, they sometimes remain until they can't take it anymore and end up exiting the field altogether.
  • A nurse can inventory her/his values individually and create a mission statement for life and vocation. Burnout can be the result of a nurse's existential conflict of working beneath core values. Mindfulness training and reflective practices are being incorporated nationwide to improve the quality of life for employees and patients. Employee health centers in larger healthcare systems often have life coaches or access to holistic health services. Clarity of purpose serves as a shining beacon to better choices. When self-care is a top priority for nurses, they are more likely to do the things necessary for life/work balance when it's needed and not stress about it.
  • Select a workplace where compassion practices are the norm. In this technological world, it is easier than ever to understand the pulse of an organization. When choosing a potential workspace, take the time to look at the employee reviews describing what it is like to work in the organization.
  • When possible, work for a Magnet organization where wellness is a priority for patients and staff.
  • Advance your education so that you are eligible for promotions and opportunities with better work hours and environments. There are a plethora of great online options that build in flexibility to degree advancement. Most magnet facilities prefer BSN preparedness.
  • Join a nursing advocacy group on your unit, in your hospital or externally if that is the only option.
  • Learn to set boundaries. Learn to say no when needed in both your personal and professional life. Eliminate extra activities. Make it a point to be early. Always. Show up first to your shift if you are usually running late and watch the magic on your co-worker's faces.
  • Stop complaining. Learn to voice your needs respectfully and proactively.
  • Don't gossip. It's diminishes everything and everyone.
  • Assume responsibility for your actions. Be a part of the solution.
  • Learn the scope of your practice and be clear about those boundaries.
  • Learn self-care strategies such as doing things daily that make your happy
  • Take time to figure out if there is anything that you can learn, do, or say differently to reduce stress. If technology issues are a continual problem, an easy solution is taking a class. Difficult relations with coworkers are a little more challenging, but look to see how you can change something about yourself first before tackling the others. If people are continually complaining that you have a harsh tone, respectfully consider that you may need to learn a more effective way of communicating. Any genuinely introspective and authentic effort you undertake to improve a situation or condition will not be in vain.
  • Get help. Nurses know healing begins when the patient believes his voice has been heard. It is no different for nurses who are human beings too. If the problems are too big or overwhelming, find a therapeutic safe zone and get help. Do for yourself what you would tell your patients to do. Be courageous enough to do what is right for you. That's self-care in a nutshell.

Advocacy For the Nursing Profession

Nurses need to band together in advocacy and extend the loving care to themselves and each other as well as patients. Nurses need to mentor and nourish their young, advocate for their profession, and lead the charge into healthcare's future by putting the proverbial oxygen mask on themselves first. The flight attendant is right. You cannot help anyone else if you cannot breathe.

We hope you enjoyed this article. Spring Arbor University provides online education opportunities for nurses who want to do more with your drive to make a difference. Gain career growth in primary or preventative care on your own schedule while you continue to work. Lead change, advance health, and go forward as you educate patients and families on their continued care. Contact us to find out more about our MSN-NP, MSN-NE, MSN/MBA, RN-MSN-NP, RN-BSN and other online nursing programs. Learn more here.

Edited by Brian S.

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