Managing Stress: An Ongoing Challenge

Stress. It’s an unavoidable part of life, and learning how to handle it is an ongoing challenge that we all face. Some sources of stress – like taking an exam or giving a presentation – are short-lived and harmless. Other sustained sources of stress – such as those related to work – can have serious effects on our mental and physical health.

Most people would agree that nurses have a very stressful job. The extended and irregular work hours alone are exhausting, and the intense emotional support that patients often require can be draining. So as Stress Awareness Month 2014 draws to a close, we’d like to offer some stress management advice and resources for those who spend so much time caring for others to better care for themselves.

Symptoms of Stress

  • Tension and irritabilitystressed nurse
  • Difficulty making decisions or concentrating
  • Being numb to one’s feelings
  • Sadness and other symptoms of depression
  • Feeling powerless
  • Sleep problems
  • Headaches, back pain and stomach problems

More symptoms and tips for self-care are available on the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website.

Learn more about cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral symptoms or to take the stress quiz on the website.

Coping with Stress: Workplace Tips from the Mayo Clinic

  • Identify Stress Triggers – For a week or two, record the situations, events and people who cause you to have a negative physical, mental or emotional response.
  • Tackle Stress Triggers – Often, the best way to cope with stress is to find a way to change the circumstances that are causing it.
  • Sharpen Time Management Skills – In addition to addressing specific stress triggers, it’s often helpful to improve time management skills — especially if you tend to feel overwhelmed or under the gun at work.
  • Keep Perspective – When your job is stressful, it can feel as if it’s taking over your life.
  • Seek Help – If none of these steps relieves your feelings of job stress or burnout, consult a mental health provider.

Read more on each of these tips on the Mayo Clinic website.

Stress Management Strategies from

  • Learn to Identify Feelings – Breaking through denial and admitting there’s a problem is a step toward finding solutions to stress.
  • Isolation Makes Things Worse – Nurses, as professionals, are strong at caring for others, but when it comes to themselves, they often believe that they should be smart enough to handle things on their own.
  • Writing Brings Clarity – Many nurses report that keeping a journal is a helpful method to put a situation into perspective.
  • Rest and Relaxation are Vital – Taking a vacation does not mean that we are lazy. In fact, most nurses who do take their allotted time off perform better on their annual reviews, and they report better job satisfaction.
  • Evaluate and Rely on Spirituality – Nurses often report fatigue and burnout related to their inability to find meaning or purpose in their professional and personal life. Similarly, many rely on spirituality for coping; and without any sense of spirituality, some nurses might be at a loss.
  • Acquire Skills in New Areas – Certainly, a lack of understanding or a feeling of inadequacy can contribute to stress. Therefore, nurses have a responsibility to recognize their needs and acquire skills in needed areas.

Learn more about each of these strategies at

Free Upcoming Webinar from HHQI

HHQI’s Underserved Populations Network will present a free webinar on June 11, 2014 (3pm ET) that will address stress management for caregivers. Sign up for HHQI’s e-newsletters to be notified when registration is available or watch for details!

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