UNFORGETABLE2667 1,562 Views
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Have you ever wondered what the stress of nursing is doing to you? We know that stress causes cortisol levels to rise which raise our blood pressure, raise our blood sugar levels, increase our lipids, etc. Blah, Blah, Blah. The point of this article is not to teach you something you already learned in pathophysiology class.
We know that high stress levels can cause weight gain and we know that obesity complicates every disease there is. Obesity has been linked to higher cases of breast cancer, etc. As nurses, we KNOW all this stuff.
Let’s not go there right now. Instead the message of this article is to talk about the emotional price of high nursing-related stress in your life. Nursing stress is so unique. It’s practically impossible to explain to non-nurses…that’s for sure!
How do you explain what it feels like to have your pager go off for two different patients at the same time? One is in severe pain and one is throwing up. Add to that scenario “a transport tech” arriving on the floor asking if your pre-surgical patient is ready to go to surgery because the anesthesiologist and surgeon are waiting downstairs. Yikes! You didn’t get the checklist done yet! Multiply that scenario several times an hour for 12+ hours at a time and you've got nursing stress.
Nursing stress mounts so quickly that it leaves you speechless with friends and family. The thought of describing what you go through during your work day becomes so exhausting that you just don’t do it. You don’t tell your friends. You don’t tell your family. You may find yourself becoming emotionally shut down to a certain extent because you start to hold stuff in.
Have you ever wondered, “Am I depressed and I don’t even know it?” You may find the answer to that question by examining what you do on your days off. After a brutally stressful day at work, it is not uncommon to hear a nurse describe her day off like this, “All morning, I could still hear my pager going off and the monitors too. I stayed in my pajamas until the afternoon. All I had energy to do was zone out on TV and eat.”
It’s a matter of life and death to find healthy outlets for the nursing stress in your life!
When the thought of picking up the phone and talking to a dear trusted friend to “relieve some pressure” becomes too much for you to handle, there may be a problem. Perhaps you used to refer to it as a “mental health” day, but when all your days off look like this, there may be a problem.
In general, isolation (not talking, stuffing with food, not socializing) can be warning signs of too much nursing stress in your life. Beware of “shut down” mode.
Conscious separation is a problem. Conscious unity is an answer.
Here are some of the things that can work to combat nursing stress:
*Talk about it. Talk to your fellow nurses, your charge nurse, your department director, your friends, your family, your mentors. If you don’t want to talk about details, at least talk about your feelings and what you plan on doing to change your circumstances.
*Utilize mentors in your life. (spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, entrepreneurial)
*Walk/hike with your spouse or friend regularly each week.
*Participate in groups with similar interests as your. (Don’t just attend. Talk!) The power of a group cannot be underestimated.
*Take advantage of nutritional vitamins and supplements.
*Eat healthy snacks (remember low carbs/high fiber/high protein).
*Watch your sugar intake (there are alternatives to high sugar coffee drinks!).
*Blog on different subjects.
*Join Online Nursing Forums and participate.
*Write and journal.
*Share your writing and journaling with people you trust.
*Go on a 30 day Mental Cleanse (be extremely selective with what you “take in” mentally).
A very wise woman once gave a speech to a group. She said that she had come to a turning point in her life and wanted to make a change. The single most important thing she did to change her life around was this: She started to “LIVE OUTLOUD”. She ended her silence.
Nurses, if you do nothing else, start living outloud!
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