Although there are many advantages of being a nurse, stress is a guaranteed part of any nursing practice and specialty. Understanding how to deal with workplace stress can be difficult, especially for new nurses. New RNs could feel overwhelmed and disillusioned about their responsibilities. Some feel that they are underprepared, doubt their abilities, and even worse, contemplate leaving the profession. We want to share these 20 coping strategies for new nurses. These 20 coping skills for nurses will help new nurses feel confident and satisfied being part of the nursing profession.
1) Remember it’s not personal
Being in the healthcare industry isn’t just stressful for the nurse, but also for your patient and family members. If they lash out at you, know that their frustration isn’t geared to you. Their stress could be a concern for their loved ones, finances, or the facility. If you are put in this experience remember to first take a deep breath. You don’t want to overreact or say anything negative. Instead, find your floor manager and explain the stressful situation to them. Cooler heads will prevail.
2) Practice deep breathing exercise
Deep breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques have proven to be effective coping skills. Different methods will help reduce workplace stress, improve your mood, and allow you not to hold onto things that are out of your control. There are plenty of resources out there to help you properly find deep breathing exercises. If nothing more, close your eyes, inhale for a 5 count, and exhale for a 5 count. Then repeat.
3) Find a quiet place
Taking breaks is a necessary requirement for people in all industries, especially for nurses. As a new nurse, it is important to locate a place where you can escape for a few moments. Find a quiet room at your facility or perhaps there is a garden where you can sit and collect your thoughts. Finding a quiet place will rejuvenate your mood and allow you to have a successful rest of the day.
4) Use a journal to write or draw
Having a journal is a great form of expression. The Wall Street Journal talks about the power of daily writing in a journal. Writing notes and expressing your frustrations and stressors can definitely help remedy your emotions. If you prefer to draw and express via art that’s fine too. Everyone has something that works for them. The key is to find what works for you to help you remain calm when dealing with a stressful situation.
5) Find a mentor
Mentors help guide us and are there when we need them. As a new nurse, finding a seasoned nurse that can show you the ropes of the facility and provide social support will go a long way as you continue developing the best coping strategy for your needs. Being a nurse is a stressful job, and ineffective coping can even lead to burnout, emotional exhaustion, and even PTSD in nurses. Having someone you can lean on and get you up to speed is critical.
6) Be honest
New nurses have a constant need to fit in. Sometimes, that can cloud your judgement in what you know. New nurses can be reluctant to say that they don’t know how to do a specific patient care activity. If you are faced with this situation be honest. Ask your colleague or nurse manager for help. Again, this could be something you speak with your mentor about.
7) Master your skills
The quickest way to feel confident as a nurse is to master your skills. Having this level of confidence will make handling any related task seem like second nature and give you satisfaction in your new role.
8) Eat well-balanced meals
As a nurse, you are always on the go. This makes it easier to neglect eating properly. The key to eat a well-balanced meal is preparation. Make your meals ahead of time. Don’t skip meals. The healthier you can eat will increase your energy and productivity.
9) Get enough sleep
Your body needs time to rest and “re-charge your batteries.” After a busy day of work, getting the proper amount of sleep is a necessity to take on the new day. You will find out that when you neglect sleep that you are not your normal self.
10) Get on an exercise routine
In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, try to include exercise in your daily routine. Your schedule might not always allow you to exercise daily. However, it is important that you find time to exercise. Whether that is going to the gym, a run around your neighborhood, or a morning walk, the key is to find something that fits with your schedule. When you find something that fits your schedule you will find it easier to stick with it.
11) Put stress into perspective
The fact is that you cannot control everything that happens and every stressor that comes with it. Focus on what you can control. Don’t stress over things you can’t control. When you put this into perspective you will find that things aren’t as bad as you think.
12) Maintain a positive attitude
This supports the coping mechanism or skill of not stressing over things you cannot control. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. When you have a positive attitude, you will feel like you can handle anything thrown at you.
13) Don’t fight frustration
If you are angry, sad, or having a negative feeling allow yourself time to deal with it. News flash, these feelings are common for a new nurse. Accept and acknowledge your feelings. Don’t deny or try to suppress your feelings. Talk about your feelings. Write how you are feeling. Take time to find a quiet place. Whatever method or coping mechanism you choose, know that it’s okay to feel upset from time to time. Acknowledging your feelings is just as important as moving on from them.
14) Look back on other stressful times
Every storm eventually runs out of rain. When faced with a stressful time, it is important to look back at another stressful time. Remind yourself that past stressful periods passed and this too will pass.
15) Join a committee
This might be one of those things that you roll your eyes when you first read. As a nurse, your days go by fast and time is limited. That is exactly why joining a committee will help you cope as a new nurse. Joining a committee will allow you to make an impact on your facility. You can provide ideas to improve your patient’s needs. Make your voice heard.
16) Take a vacation
As a nurse, you will be working long days. However, when you get time off make an effort to get away and relax. Explore a new city, schedule a fun day trip with your friends, go see family. Whatever you decide, make sure you take time to relax so you come back ready to work.
17) Get organized
One way to stay on top of your game is to be organized. Nurses are handing a lot of responsibilities daily. Thus, taking time to set your daily priorities can help you formulate a plan to complete everything.
18) Over communicate
The more your team knows the better you can support each other. Communicating with your team is a great way to cope with stress as a nurse. A Nursing World article said, “Stress in hospitals is unavoidable. However, it can be managed.” It is managed by communicating. When an open dialogue is fostered, stress levels can decrease.
19) Find the right situation for you
If you know the specialty you want, do you know the right setting you want to work in? Do you know the right shift you want to work in? Do you know the right location you want to work? The nursing world is vast. You might find that you experience less occupational stress when you work nights compared to days. Or maybe the setting you’ve been in all your life is continuing to cause you stress. Mix it up. Find what works with you and don’t be afraid of change.
20) Leave the day with a clear mind
Your days are long and busy. You have accomplished a lot during your day. When the day is done don’t stress over things that weren’t accomplished. You can’t change anything at home. Reflect on your shift, plan out your next day, get a good night sleep, and take on tomorrow. Move on. Otherwise you will carry that un-needed stress the next day.
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