How to NOT cry at work

  1. Any advice? Not the semi-acceptable in nursing "tears after a favorite patient dies" but the "I'm so p.o.'ed right now and crying is my response to frustration and anger" tears that are just unprofessional.
    I've tried taking deep breaths. I've tried escaping the situation for a moment to regain my composure (although unfortunately, not always practical). I've tried thinking of happy thoughts. But the other day, after 2 ridiculously frustrating situations, when the 2nd one was just proving impossible to fix, I lost it.
    I need some tried and true practical advice other than just to stop caring, which right now seems like the only thing that will help me. Because "Just don't do it" isn't working for me. I've tried to control the things that do make me more emotionally labile. Trying to get better sleep (probably something that contributed to my episode the other day was the lack of sleep.) But are there any tricks for turning OFF the water works when in the moment?
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    About wooh

    Joined: Feb '04; Posts: 4,978; Likes: 20,737
    RN & Critter Mama; from US


  3. by   RN1982
    I've cried a dozen times. I tried not to but sometimes you just can't help it. You're human. Sometimes you just have to let it all out.
  4. by   mercyteapot
    Two suggestions:

    Get enough rest. I know that's easier said than done, but if you can manage it, it really does help with emotional control.

    Antidepressants. I don't want to start a debate here, but really, I used to fall apart at the drop of a hat before I started taking Wellbutrin. Not just at work, but any time I felt slighted. ADs have taken the edge off for me. Of course, they're not for everyone, but if you feel like you're always one problem away from a meltdown (which I was), it might be worth asking about them.
  5. by   anurseuk
    Yes sleep, eat enough, take your breaks when u can or when offered to you.

    And I think after a while of dealing with these frustrating situations you kind of get used to them and the reaction is not quite so emotional... Although I will admit sometimes I get close to the point of crying!!!
  6. by   prmenrs
    I agree w/MTP. If you're feeling that close to the edge, it's worth talking to a psychiatrist and perhaps going on an antidepressant.

    I used to feel like the mythical character Sisyphous, doomed to roll the same boulder up a hill day after day. Antidepressants work. Really. If the 1st drug you try doesn't work, try a different one.

    Even my son, ~ 6ish @ the time noticed a difference because I no longer cried when a Hallmark commercial came on: "how come you're not crying, you always cry!!" (Mr. Sensitive, he is not!)
  7. by   Indy
    Maybe also take a serious look at your job and the amount of stress you are dealing with. Is there a way to change that? I came to work one day on the unit that I eventually left, saw the staffing, got really close to tears while talking to the offgoing charge nurse about it. He said, not unkindly but sorta bluntly, "well if that's the way you feel, you really should look for another job." It was good advice.
  8. by   NursKris82
    How long have you been a nurse? I'm asking because I am a new nurse and sometimes I get so frustrated that I too have cried, even though I knew better and I did everything you did and it did not work. I feel like it may happen, but the longer you work and learn to better deal with the stress and are able to say "I remember this happened before and I thought it was the end of the world and I handled it" the better you'll get. Some of the other info. was good. Antidepressants is up to you, but they may not be the answer.
    One day I misunderstood what a nurse I really looked up to said to someone else about me and I started to cry. I was so mad- crying didn't help and now my eyes were all red and everyone wanted to know what was wrong- I just wanted to get back to work. Then, I go to the BR to collect myself and I start crying more. Man, I was so mad with myself but just couldn't stop. Then, when I finally did I was mad because now I was tired (I always get tired after I cry). I was so upset with myself, but I couldn't help it. It happens sometimes.
  9. by   Virgo_RN
    How long have you been a nurse?
  10. by   wooh
    Thanks everyone, RN over 5 years, in healthcare almost 10. So it's not that I don't expect this stuff to happen, or that I'm not used to it. I'm generally able to maintain a good balance between what "should" be done in my mind and what "can" be done in reality. And I'm REALLY learning to take my breaks. All my breaks, every day, and wow, am I liking that! Helps that I'm on a unit now that actually strives to have ok staffing. And in fact, my job is now actually pretty great most of the time, reasonable staffing, and lately I've had good patients. In fact, that was a bit of my meltdown, all the stupidity of the day was happening to REALLY nice people. And I was just so powerless to stop it. The enough rest thing is good advice. It's just so hard, but I'm just going to HAVE to do it. The other day with my melt down, I was even watching myself, trying to make sure I took my breaks and such because I knew I hadn't gotten enough rest. So I'll just have to "just do it" and start getting more sleep, whatever that takes. And antidepressants, already on them, and they're working pretty good, but it may be time to look at a dose change.
    So anybody have some sort of quick fix? Something that in the moment, I can do to flip the switch back? Because it comes on, and trying to stop it just seems to make it worse.
  11. by   rebelgirl#1
    Find a private spot and have the melt down. Allow time at home. If you do not feel better then you may need more professional help. I have found the melt down and some good old fashion hard work in my garden helps a lot.

    Maybe because then I can focus on the issue. Good luck with this.
  12. by   Nursebarebari
    Some time last year I had a 56yr old female patient with the diagnosis of rectal abccess and she was scheduled for incision and drainage. The patient became so scared and worried that the procedure might go wrong. As her nurse, I provided her with emotional support and did all the teachings required. The patient spoke english but she was spanish, so I had one of our spanish residents talked to her and gave her all the information needed. When I was leaving that morning after my night shift, I went to her room and wish her good luck and also promise to see her later that day when I come back. The patient hugged me thanked me. As I got to the door of her room, she came after me and thanked me again while holding my hand tightly. Later that evening when I came back to work, I was told that she was sent to ICU after the I & D because she developed malignant hyerthermia and went into respiratory distress. I was very upset and went to ICU to see her, she was on vent and sedated; the temp was under control. So I came back to my unit. On my way home in the morning, I went to ICU to see her again, she was not there but another patient in that bed. I asked and was told that she coded three times and died around 2am. I heard the code calls but never thaught she was the one.
    Boy, I was shocked and cried very loud right there infront of everybody. I went back to my unit and told everybody and cried some more. When I came home I called my friends and my husband at work and told them and I cried some more. It took me some time to get over it and I believe the crying really help.

    You are human and your heart is not made of stone, so cry if you need to, just try not to make it a habit. And if you think it is becoming too much, change your area of work or seek professional help as others suggested.
    good luck
  13. by   Ginger45
    I have not cried when I worked at the hosptial but as a Director of Nurses. I have cried when I was so frustrated by the lack of caring from corporate. I am on antidepressants now and I quit that job.

    I would find a safe place (like the bathroom) if you have to cry. I agree, antidepressants help alot.
  14. by   Mulan
    no quick fix, but menopause will take care of that