According to National Institute of Mental Health,”Stress is how the brain and body respond to any demand. Every type of demand or stressor such as exercise, work, school, major life changes, or traumatic events- can be stressful”.

In nursing profession, one of the most stressful nursing job is being a bedside nurse. Bedside nursing requires dealing directly with patients. Nurses that works directly with patients, experiences a lot of stress especially nowadays with our challenging society changes. Some patients can be violent, aggressive, needy and presents a lot of different conditions that becomes harder or challenging for them to be cared for.

Not only that, this type of nursing deals with longer shifts, weekend shifts ( which is challenging when they have family or smaller children) , coworkers that are stressed themselves, management that are not always supportive and patients that are heavy. So dealing with all of these plus some, gives them not only mental stress but also physical stress.


What Are The Major Stressors Of Nurses

As I have mentioned above the type of nursing that are mostly stressful are those that are doing bedside nursing. Some type of nursing job may have some stress also but being that I have experienced a lot of nursing type of job… I would say there’s nothing more stressful than bedside nursing especially in the acute and critical setting. So what are the major stressors of nurses?

  1. Heavy loads. Sad to say, the nurse patient ratios doesn’t always get followed. If someone took off or got sick and no one is available to pick up that nurses’ shift then the patient assignment becomes heavier.
  2. Acuity of patients are not evenly distributed. This is also one of the reason why a load of one nurses’ assignment can be heavier, it is either the charge nurse who did the patient assignment are not very well experienced, there’s partiality going on or there’s just not enough nurses to distribute the loads to.
  3. Not enough staff. These correlates to number 1 and 2. When there’s not enough staff in a given shift it is hard to evenly distribute the acuity thus the loads becomes heavier.
  4. Lack of management support. Another sad reality. Hospitals and or other type of nursing care facility needs to hire managers or directors that are not scared to have their hands dirty and has the ability to fully support their nursing staff may it be physically and emotionally. Based on my experience, there’s far too many ambitious managers and directors that wants to go up the ladder without putting enough effort.
  5. Time constraints. With heavy loads, high acuity patients and not having enough staff, the nurse has to hurry to have her tasks done and care plans to be implemented. And by not having enough staff, she may need to pitch in to do other tasks.
  6. Working with difficult staff member. Bullying in the hospital environment is sadly very common nowadays. I for one has experienced it so many times. It maybe due to a lot of reasons why bullying occurs. It could be that the person who was bullying has image issues, she maybe stressed, has family or personal issues etc.
  7. Lack of rest. Unfortunately in this kind of set up, a lot of times, these nurses forgets to take a break or just simply don’t have time. It is also common to not get time to drink water or time to go to the bathroom. We all know, that being hungry and not having enough water in our body causes tiredness and headache…thus stress arises.
  8. Working with new nurses. Having to work with new nurses can be positive or can pose a burden on the one that is more experienced. There should be a policy that if a nurse is precepting or training a new nurse or a student nurse, that she should be given a lesser load of patients. I know this is a policy in most of the major hospitals but it does not get implemented all the time due to different reasons. There are tremendous load for a nurse that is precepting if she also has patients that are very demanding and has a lot of needs.
  9. Uneven distribution of schedules. The one good thing that was implemented in most hospitals are the self scheduling but there are times due to lack of staff, nurses has to work straight 2-3 days which poses a lot of mental and physical stress.
  10. Not having enough sleep. To those that has family or children and those that works shifts, this is an issue. The reality is, some sleeps better even when under stressful circumstances but there are a lot that cannot. There are times also that they don’t go home on time. Hours that’s already been deducted to that amount of rest or sleep that they could be taking.
  11. Having to deal with infectious diseases. Being in the bedside setting this is something that nurses need to deal with. Some cases are highly contagious and some are not.
  12. Having to deal with a dying patient. Not all nurses are comfortable in dealing with an actively dying patient. The good part is there’re chaplains in the hospital that one can talk to and be able to be of assistance in this difficult situations.
  13. Dealing with challenging psychiatric patients. Patients that are going through major psychiatric issues requires constant supervision and monitoring. They are sometimes physically and verbally aggressive.
  14. Dealing with a non compliant patient. Nurses’ life will be better if all of her patients follows instructions and does the right thing based on their condition. Some, due to noncompliance ends up on the floor and some has conditions but still decides to do something that are not within the course of their regimen. Nurses job becomes more difficult/challenging because of this and has added tasks to be fulfilled as problem arises.

How To Manage Stress As A Nurse

managing stress as a nurse

I understand that there’s a lot of stresses that was listed above, so now it’s time to help nurses in handling their stress.

  1. Taking enough rest or sleep. These are very important, gives us enough mind clarity.
  2. Manage personal life well. Our personal lives affects our work habit and productivity that leads to stress if not handled well.
  3. Be organized. This reduces chaos and leaves no confusion in undertaking tasks.
  4. Taking care of oneself. It is very important to feel good and be confident of yourself when we are properly groomed and when we have taken enough rests.
  5. Take breaks or vacations. It is invigorating to get some times off. It helps to freshen our minds of worries and every day stresses once in a while.
  6. Taking breaks while working. It is amazing what a 30-minute break can do. By being able to eat and drink water and just chill in the break room. The good thing is, more break rooms for employees nowadays has TV and lounges where employees can just relax.
  7. Talk it out. Call a friend or talk to any family member of any worries or troubles that you may have. Not being able to communicate those stresses to anybody is a problem as it builds up.
  8. Exercise or meditate. Sometimes chemical imbalances gets in the way of our moods which that contributes to a lot of stress.
  9. Practice breathing exercises. Practicing proper deep breathing exercises helps reduce stress as well.
  10. Staying positive. I cannot tell you how many times have I worked with a nurse who at the beginning of the shift has already worn herself out due to her pessimism. She would start whining right at change of report for any small issues reported and would assume of the worst possible scenario. The negative vibes is something that should be eliminated. It’s unnecessary and adds stress.
  11. Staying away from negative coworker. This will help a lot. When this type of nurses or staff member are having their moments of pessimism try to stay away from them so as not to be influenced as that is something that can be acquired or affect another if one has no strong hold of one’s emotion.
  12. Being focus. Leave home issues when at work and vice versa. We can only be in one place at one time. Let us not beat ourselves up.
  13. Love oneself. Need I say more to this. When we do this, the rest will follow.

Parting words

Stress affects all of us no matter what industry we are in. It can affect us physically, emotionally and psychologically.Our health and well-being relies not only on the physical state of our body but also on our mental and or psychological state. Knowing and acknowledging the causes of our stress is important and so as knowing how to handle them well.

Thank you for reading. If there’s  anything that you would like to add and ask please leave your comment down below. Please also feel free to share this article.