RN of 5 Years: Still Getting Pre-Shift Anxiety

Nurses Stress 101



I see and understand a lot of posts expressing anxiety as a new nurse/student, but I've been working as a nurse in my specialty for over 5 years now and have noticed that I am having a lot of anxiety before/at the start of my shifts.

Maybe this is normal, we work in really unpredictable environments where any shift could be the worst day ever and something terrible could happen. I definitely had these feelings as a new nurse, though I feel like it subsided for awhile around the 2-3 year mark, I realized I was getting burnt out and switched jobs at year 4 (to a very similar position in the same hospital, but with enough change to sort of reset myself mentally). Now at 5 1/2 years I notice this anxious feeling again and often drag my feet to get ready for work, ending up late/barely on time (which adds to my stress).

I can't help but feel I am about to be thrown into a mess, (though with my years of experience I know I can probably handle whatever happens and it always works out somehow, even if I have to ask for a lot of help on those really bad shifts).

Anyone else have the same experience? And any tips on how to address this anxiety?


Specializes in Infusion oncology, Cardiac PCU.

Inpatient hospital jobs remain a stress inducing environment for anyone, no matter how many years of experience they may have. I’ve only been a nurse for 2 years and at this point I’ve come to the realization that the unpredictability of what to come in a shift and the intense critical labor is not for me. You never know what May be thrown at you every-time you clock in and these aren’t just items or objects, these are humans life which put the stress and anxiety over board. Sometime we just have to sit down and reevaluate ourself and what we prefer. For me, I work better in a predictable environment where I can still utilize my nursing knowledge but at the same time, not jeopardize my license due to critical situations.  Being that you’re 5 years in and is proficient at what you do, this area of nursing might be where you belong  so possibly see about relaxation tips? I still believe this ore shift anxiety and stress happens to many nurses, even those who are excellent at what they do.

Specializes in Telemetry, Primary Care.

As you had said, the unpredictability of our environment and our job is the cause and that's just part of nursing. I don't get anxious anymore, but my outlet in general is working out and video games. I mean I still do, but nothing as bad as the good ol new-grad blues when I first started nor is it affecting me. Some anxiety is normal and helpful for nurses. Pre and post shift anxiety is also normal too, but if it's overtaking you mind and body then yes, it is a problem. This sounds like a typical bro thing to say, but it has worked for me all these years and I still enjoy them not just as an outlet to destress, but because they're hobbies. When I say working out, I'm not saying a 30min stretch or walk, I'm talking about power lifting. Having goals in terms of hitting higher numbers or trying a new workout can keep you super focused. I work out 4-5 times per week. Video games has always been a part of my life and the electronic gaming world is vast and is open to both males and females. If you want the generic answer, start somewhere small. Try yoga, meditation, hiking, daily. Find hobbies that you'd be interested in and actually act on them.

5 years is quite some time to still deal with anxiety. If the anxiety is affecting you both physically and mentally, in and out of work maybe you need to move on from your current job and find a different position. Also, you definitely want to talk to your PCP. Medications can help with anxiety and there is nothing wrong with needing a little help in the pill form to deal with it. You don't need to be on any anti-depressant or anti anxiety medications, there are alternatives that helps such as beta blockers or even herbal supplements. Regardless, hit up your PCP and there is never anything wrong with talking with a therapist either.


7 Posts

barcode120x said:

new-grad blues

This is exactly what is happening to me.

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