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Effective Ways to Help Nurses Cope With Stress

Written by Nichole Gokenbach on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 Posted in Travel Nurse Tips

Healthcare can be stressful. Factors including large caseloads, busy days, difficult patients and co-worker conflicts can add to the stress. It's true that a little stress can be good, helping nurses to pick up steam and gain motivation. But long-term, chronic stress can be debilitating and rob nurses of energy and productivity. In this way, patient care can suffer. As an employer, you can help.

Follow these tips to help your nurses effectively manage stress:

  • Let nurses “talk it out.” One of the best ways to deal with stress is by talking about concerns. Meet with your nurses regularly—through morning report or weekly team meetings, for example—and review caseloads and any questions the nurses may have. Keep an “open-door policy” for questions your nurses may not feel comfortable discussing in front of others.
  • Help nurses prioritize. Workloads can be much more manageable by setting goals and planning daily "to-do" lists to prioritize. Check with your nurses to make sure they feel comfortable with their patient caseloads. It's possible duties may need to be shuffled or re-assigned.
  • Encourage regular breaks. It's important to take a little time to decompress and simply breathe. Encourage nurses to take their meal and 10-minute breaks. Walking around the building or leaving to go out for lunch can do wonders for stress levels by helping nurses relax.
  • Be a cheerleader for exercise and good nutrition. When the body is in good physical shape, it weathers stress much more easily. Offer incentives for accomplishing certain milestones, such as gym memberships or gift cards to sporting goods stores for exercise gear. Encourage “walking clubs” where nurses can walk together outside or around the building during breaks. Stock bottled water and healthy snacks in nursing stations, such as bananas or granola bars.
  • Use humor. Share a joke or a funny story during meetings or morning report. Healthcare is a career to be taken seriously, but too rigid an atmosphere can add to stress levels. Humor can help to lighten everyone's mood.
  • Provide a list of “de-stress tips” to your new hires. This can be included in the orientation packets for new nurses. Consider leaving printed copies at nursing stations for reference. Include items such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, exercise, good nutrition, “talk therapy,” and prioritizing.

By helping your nursing staff to decompress, you are adding to their job satisfaction, but also to the quality of care they'll be able to provide to patients. Stress management is a win/win for all involved.

Health Providers Choice offers a variety of travel nursing positions at facilities throughout the country. To learn more, contact one of our recruiters today!