Guides

How Do You Deal With Stress?

Stress Awareness Month

April is Stress Awareness Month and for most people stress has become a part of the average twenty-first-century life. This has become even more evident through the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to APA’s 2021 Work and Well-being Survey of 1,501 U.S. adult workers, 79% of workers reported having work-related stress with 3 in 5 employees reporting negative impacts from work-related stress. Healthcare workers have experienced a uniquely hard past couple of years as frontline workers during the pandemic. A Journal of General Internal Medicine study reported that more than 70% of healthcare workers experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression with 38% showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. So, how do we learn to destress?

Identifying Stress

Everyone has experienced stress in their lives however chronic stress, or “a consistent sense of feeling pressured and overwhelmed over a long period of time,” according to Yale Medicine, can become a health concern. Over time, chronic stress can lead to more serious health problems so it is important to try to identify potential stressors in your life. Here is a list of common workplace stressors:

  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Heavy workload
  • Long hours
  • Poor management
  • Unclear expectations
  • Dangerous conditions
  • Coworker conflicts
  • Job loss

Additional stressors may include the death of a loved one, divorce, financial problems, chronic illness/injury, or unexpected life events.

Stress can manifest in the body in different ways. Stress hormones can wear down your body causing increased aging and illness. Other physical signs may be headaches, fatigue, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, upset stomach, and irritability.

If you relate to feeling exhausted from chronic workplace stress, you may be experiencing burnout. Read more about burnout in the nursing industry here.

Healthy Ways to Address Stress

Self-care is any intentional activity to provide ourselves with physical and mental well-being and is important in learning how to handle stress. Learning how to manage your stress levels is hard and will look different for each person. Choosing what works best for you is based on your goals, motivation, and lifestyle. Self-care is important for everyone but especially for healthcare workers who spend all day caring for others. Reducing stress levels through self-care can help a nurse provide compassion, improve the quality of care, and is even recommended by the American Nurses Association in its Code of Ethics.

It is often hardest to practice self-care when you need it most. You may not feel like it is a priority but it is crucial to maintain personal physical and mental health. As healthcare providers, it is important that you look after your needs so that you can continue to take care of others. While all healthcare providers face stress and uncertainty we each have our own realities and experiences so it is important that you do not compare your self-care to others.

Rest and Relaxation Activities

  • Power Nap - Taking time to rest during the day can help maintain energy, increase brain functionality and help control emotions.
  • Breathing - Practicing deep breaths will increase oxygen flow throughout the body. By repeating 5 - 10 deep breaths you can begin to relieve stress.
  • Massage - We hold stress in our body and as a result, our muscles may become tense. Taking a couple of minutes to massage your shoulders or neck may help you release some of that tension.
  • Stretching - Stretching can help release tension in your body and help you feel centered and relaxed during the day.
  • Mindfulness - Popular apps like Headspace and Keener are ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life. Meditation and mindfulness, like gratitude exercises and reflection prompts may help you decode personal stressors.
  • Go outside - Spending time in nature helps you absorb vitamin D through sunlight which helps with concentration and prevents illness.
  • Music - Music can help relieve psychological stress, improve moods, and help recover from stress faster.
  • Reading or listening - Immersing yourself in stories can help distract your mind from stressors and provide a safe space for the mind to relax.
  • Pets - Everyone loves their pets but did you know they’re more than furry friends. Spending time with pets releases chemicals in the body that promotes relaxation and decreases stress/anxiety.
  • Take time off - When you can try to take time for yourself. Whether it's a weekend, vacation, or weekday getting away from work can help prevent burnout.

When life gets stressful, sometimes you need more than self-care. If you are feeling like you may need some extra help, here are some resources to look into.

  • Employee Assistance Program - This is a free program offered by UnitedHealthcare through Nomad Health. This program helps you answer questions like, should I see a therapist or do need a lawyer? The service provides 24/7 coordinators for a no-cost confidential assessment and referral. These are trained professionals who are able to help you with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, relationships, grief, and more. Call **1-888-887-4114 / TTY 711** to reach out today.
  • Support for Public Health Workers and Health Professionals - This is a resource hub with information and links relating to coping with healthcare-specific trauma and stress. You can find support hotlines, Covid-19 resources, and mental health advice.
  • Health Care Professionals National Alliance on Mental Health - This page helps you review signs that indicate when you should reach out for help as well as a range of resources aimed at health care professionals.

Conclusion

As a healthcare worker, you may be exposed to additional and unique forms of stress. Once you recognize that you are feeling stressed, consider what actions you can take to cope with the situation. Remember that even small acts of self-care can make big differences in your life. Working on ways to address stress and combat them can help you live your best life. At Nomad, we want our clinicians to lead healthy and happy lives so this April, let’s focus on how we can better all of our lives through stress management.

Sources:

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2022/01/special-burnout-stress

recent study

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/03/31/1088672446/a-nurses-death-raises-the-alarm-about-the-professions-mental-health-crisis

https://www.purdueglobal.edu/blog/nursing/stress-management-health-care-workers/

Category
Guides
Last Updated:
April 26, 2022

Sign up to search travel nurse assignments nationwide

Earn more. Stress less. Be a Nomad!

Featured Articles

View all articles