Nurse+Anxiety, adjusting to weekends, any tips?


:confused:I have been working on a very fast-paced med-surg floor at a fairly large hospital in the midwest since March. At first, I loved working. I was getting great assignments (being a new nurse) and was adjusting well. But now that the assignments are getting more difficult, and I am being trusted with more responsibility, I dread work. Its a horrible feeling, I really never wanted to be one of those people that hated going to work. There are two big issues I am dealing with that seem to be making going to work really hard for me.

First off, almost every weekend before going to work (especially if it is 3 or 4 nights in a row) I have HORRIBLE anxiety attacks. For the first few hours of work, I feel a huge lump in my throat and struggle getting my assessments and medications done in a timely fashion because I have to step into a private room to calm my nerves so often. Its horrible. I am going back tonight after 2 weeks off for my wedding, and cannot stop crying. I know its anxiety, because it has happened so many times before. I talked to one of my unit coordinators, but she really didn't have any advice, and I don't want to talk to too many other people at work about it because I don't want people to know about the anxiety. I know one thing I am going to do is start signing up for weekend DAYS instead, because it seems to be coorelated to the night weekend shifts. But has anyone else ever delt with this kind of anxiety? Maybe its because I am new still, or maybe I just am not cut out for weekend nights, but either way I will have to work them sometimes, and would like ANY advice on how to deal with EXTREME anxiety at work!!

Second, I am having a horrible time adjusting to working every other weekend. I just got married last week, and I just realized how much it will suck losing every other weekend with my husband in our "newlywed" stage. I know I have to push through this first year (already counting down to March) before I can make any really big changes in the actual JOB area, but what has everyone else done to adjust to losing all those weekends for the first year or two? And how do you make up the time you lose with the people you love??

If there is ANY advice you think might be helpful, I will be looking at it for the next 4 nights :) Thanks in advance!



60 Posts

Has 1 years experience.

To me that is life working in a hospital or nursing home working every other weekend. I knew that when I started going to school for nursing. as for anxiety what is actually causing your anxiety? Is it the other nurses, low staffing what?? If you can not handle working on weekends have you tried working for a major health insurance company or a clinic?


24 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg.

Yeah I knew I would be working weekends too, I just didn't realize how hard it would be adjusting to them! I can handle working them, just looking for some advice on how to better adjust!

JenRN30, BSN

289 Posts

Specializes in Endoscopy/MICU/SICU. Has 10 years experience.

Aww, I'm so sorry you're having a hard time. You should definitely see your practitioner about the anxiety you are feeling because it does not sound normal. Some anxiety is normal, but anxiety attacks before and during work is not.

Secondly, working every other weekend is just tough, especially at this point in your life. When you have kids it will get even tougher knowing that you're missing family events and time with the family unit. It does become kind of routine and you get used to it, but I still dread the weekends when I know something fun is going on and I'm going to miss it.

Stick it out for awhile, and after a year or two you can look for a M-F, or a new job with less weekend responsibility. Good luck, everything will be ok! Congrats on your marriage.


299 Posts

Specializes in Cardiovascular, ER.

Will your floor allow you to work every friday, or sunday instead? It would still fulfill the 4 weekend days/sched and not block the entire weekends for you. That's what I did at one of my jobs. I worked every wed, thu, fri night and it worked out nicely.

As far as anxiety, I don't have any good advice for that - perhaps if you try and talk yourself down off the ledge as soon as it begins. If you can pinpoint a source for the anxiety, think of ways to fix it.

Specializes in NICU. Has 14 years experience.

I'm a little confused about what the big deal is re: working weekends. It's always been my experience that weekends -- and especially weekend nights, which is what I normally work -- are considerably slower and less stressful than weekdays. You have fewer scheduled procedures, fewer teams roving around en masse writing orders and making changes, etc.

If you think it's true anxiety, then it's something you should talk to your PCP about and not something we can advise on here. Unfortunately, if it's just an aversion to working weekends, there's not much to do besides grin and bear it.

joanna73, BSN, RN

1 Article; 4,767 Posts

Specializes in geriatrics.

Working weekends is not new to nursing, either. I worked in hotels for years and they work all kinds of holidays and weekends. You must have realized that nursing is 24/ 7 care. Not much can be done about that. As for anxiety....just learn to go with the flow. Expect the unexpected. After some time, it gets easier. On a positive note, you're employed.

rn/writer, RN

17 Articles; 4,168 Posts

See if your facility has an Employee Assistance Program. Many places do. This is a wonderful service that should be able to offer you a number of free counseling sessions to help you determine how to handle your situation. The counseling is absolutely confidential, so you don't have to worry about your manager finding out all the gory details.

You might also want to contact your primary care doc to talk about the anxiety. You might need a short term medication to help you during this rough patch. The doc can discuss those options with you.

You're going through a big transition right now and grieving the loss of your freedom to be with your husband. This is a normal reaction. Even though you knew this would happen in your head, your heart has some catching up to do. That's okay. This too shall pass.

The EAP and your doc are the places to start in dealing with the anxiety.

I wish you the best. :up:


24 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg.

Thanks so much for the advice. I knew it would be hard, just didn't expect it to be this hard!!! I will look into the EAP, and as for my PCP, I already have talked and am taking medication for the GAD, but as many nurses know, medications used to treat extreme anxiety are not allowed while on the job. I just need to look for other ways to talk myself down!!


165 Posts

Specializes in Labor & Delivery. Has 10 years experience.

If it makes you feel any better, I also grieved the time I missed with family by working every other weekend. I took a clinc job so that I could work M-F instead. And guess what, I hated that even worse! I never had a day free to go to my kids school activities, or schedule appointments. When I had weekends off I spent them catching up on housework or errands that were neglected all week. I had to commute during peak traffic hours so I ended up being gone almost 10 hours a day anyway. One thing I found very helpful was to go back to my unit and work as PRN staff. We only have to commit to half of the weekends and holidays as full time staff and the schedule is more flexible. Its been a great solution. We are so busy and short staffed getting hours is no problem. I work almost a full time schedule, and the majority of that is week days. Check into part time or PRN if you can afford to financially.

Specializes in Med/Surg, DSU, Ortho, Onc, Psych.

Sorry you are suffering from anxiety.

But didn't you realise as a nurse that you would be doing shiftwork after or when you got married? It makes me sad to hear people moaning about this, because it sounds as if they haven't really looked into the job properly. Then later on they have all these issues they can't deal with. Reality is a lot different from just thinking about something.

Can u take some more time off maybe, to spend with each other?

You could try talking to other nurses and get some short term medication. U have to hit this on the head b4 it controls your life. Sit & write down WHY you think ur feeling anxious. Also go see ur NUM & tell her what is going on and ask maybe just for days for a while.

Hope u get better soon.


181 Posts

to the op,

i have a few questions for you. do you have performance anxiety and does this happen any other time where you are anxious and can't seem to calm down? in addition, what about nursing school, did you have anxiety during clinicals? the reason i ask this is i have had similar problems. i would be so stressed and nearly in tears when i started a new job, although i usually did fine. i would have this underlying anxiety revolving around going into work. clinicals were torture for me, and i did not perform as well as i could have.

i have been going to a chiropractor who treats people for allergies. i have food allergies/sensitivities. the chiropractor used a device called a bax 3000 and bio feedback methods with muscle testing. what this tells you is the different allergies you might have to food, the environment, chemicals, neurotransmitters and your own hormones. the diagnostic tools pick up on any substances your body has sensitivity to; it can detect over 4000 sensitivities/allergies.

to make a long story short, i was allergic to my own gaba. this neurotransmitter help to turn off the hormone adrenaline so that the body doesn't go into overdrive (overly anxious/anxiety attacks). if your brain is not able to use gaba (natural calmer), then adrenaline doesn't have a buffer so to speak. i hope i am making sense. it sounds complicated, but it really isn't.

after treatment i am much calmer inside over all, and i don’t over think and worry as much as i use to. for instance, i had to go to a clinical site, and in the past i would have had anxiety over the top. however, although i was a little nervous, i wasn't overly anxious. i actually was a little excited about going, and that is not like me. i don't know if this is your issue, but it helped me and maybe it can help someone else to check it out. research gaba, you will find some very interesting information.

p.s. some practitioners will charge you thousands of dollars before they will even assess you with their diagnostic tools. however, the chiropractor i went to charged me $135 for the initial visit (because it takes longer) and $65 per visit thereafter.

if you have any questions, you can pm me.