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Getting Angry When Overwhelmed, Need Advice


Specializes in Float Pool/BMT/Oncology. Has 4 years experience.

I’ve just realized that when I become super overwhelmed (usually only when it’s near end of shift) that I don’t handle my stress very well and tend to get angry/pissy/pouty, whatever you want to call it. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does and I end up venting to a trusted coworker or friend I usually feel very embarrassed and anxious after. I think need to learn to think before I speak (ehm, rant). How does everyone still remain professional when they’re having a really rough night and one last thing happens to just send them over the edge? How do you handle stress and feeling “behind”? I have bad anxiety and tend to get quite nervous before report...if I can’t prepare things just so I get upset and worried inside. I hate not being able to answer all of the next shifts questions or leaving things for them. Sometimes they seem quite upset about it. Would love some advice on how to keep my cool in these moments and most of all, STAY PROFESSIONAL regardless of how patients/other nurses talk to me. Thank you every one 🙂

I remember working at the hospital & by the end of night shift I was exhausted & barely think.

I hated when people asked questions like "why wasn't this done?"

Sooooooo what I would say is "this is exactly the same report given to me" & if I had the time.. I would read the history & labs. You can't do every in 1 shift & nursing is 24hrs. You do what you can in your shift and if you cant you cant and you have to pass it on.

I HATED the snarks, side faces, side comments, and back stabbing from other nurses.

"Why didn't you call the doctor"

"Because it was 2am and there is a standing order for tylenol if patient gets fever"

"It doesn't matter, you are supposed to let the doctor know"


Honestly... night shift there are not a lot of resources. Day shift doesn't understand that and basically bully the night people.

I can't stand it.

I switched to telehealth... and yes today I felt completely down. I spoke to my husband about it and I am feeling better. (He is a social work and also pysch major)

Things could be better or be worse, all we can do is the best we can.

I can relate 100%. I work nights on a high-acuity pulmonary floor with vents, chest tubes, feeding tubes, etc. We still manage to get everything else like psych and ETOH, fresh post ops, etc. we are constantly short-staffed and short on techs. Every once in a while, like one night last week, I found that I could not get to all my call lights that were going off. This went on from the moment I walked in at 1900 until about 0315. Every time I sat down to chart a light would go off. I felt like a pressure cooker about to blow my lid. We had one tech that was sitting at the front nurses’ station. I was the only one at the back station while mother nurse was sitting around the corner cheering on her cow. Finally, I went up front and said the tech needs to sit in the back. She was on break at that point so there was no one. The other nurses helped me out which was awesome. The point though, is that I was so angry I thought I was going to have a stroke. I had no control over it. It was pure frustration that I couldn’t give my patients what they needed and my fear that I wasn’t going to be able to get everything done before day shift came. I felt so helpless that my anger turned to almost crying. I didn’t take it out on patients or staff, but it’s a terrible feeling. It’s frustrating not to be able to give patients what they deserve because of acuity and/or, lazy techs with attitudes. So, you are not alone!


Specializes in CICU, Telemetry. Has 7 years experience.

I'm still working on this myself, to be honest. It's great that you've identified that you're getting too angry and stressed at work, and you recognize the need to change.

I started by making sure I was remaining professional and calm while I was with a patient,and saving my rage for the hallways and for my colleagues only.

I think it's really easy for our brain to hear our colleagues laughing or talking and automatically assume that they're doing nothing, and that they're knowingly ignoring us when we're busy and overwhelmed.

I like to walk a lap of the floor (if patient acuity permits) and if I see support staff I'll ask them to help me reposition my needy patients. That gets them into the room providing care and seeing what youre working with. Then once they're there, ask if they wouldn't mind getting water, another blanket, or whatever else this patient needs right now because you need to medicate 2 other patients and are kinda overwhelmed.

Basically fake it till you make it when youre in a patient's room. If you seem anxious and frazzled, they won't trust you, so they feel the need to ask 100 questions or ring q5 minutes. And TELL YOUR CO WORKERS youre a bit overwhelmed and getting behind and that if they have any extra time you'd really appreciate their help.

At the end of the day, you only have control over your own behavior, so change what you can. If you normally give a thorough report and occasionally were elbow-deep in someone's GI bleed during your 'put together and research report' time, just tell them that. They'll know its the exception, not the rule, and they won't care.


Specializes in Cardiac. Has 5 years experience.

One thing that has helped me take some pressure off myself is instead of worrying about what my coworkers or manager or anyone else thinks of me at the end of a shift, is I ask my self "What do I think of me?" Do I feel good about how I spent my time? Do I think I worked hard for my patients and took care of the top priority issue when I made decisions. If I stand by the choices I made, then it's okay if my coworkers don't understand or disapprove. Also, odds are they aren't mad at you, they are also just stressed about their shift and wanting to prepare just like you do.

Have you heard of the podcast Thriving Nurse? It's a self-care podcast for nurses and teaches nurses emotional balance skills and stress management but focusing on things they can actually control. I have found it super helpful and recommend checking it out!