Get the Stress Out of Here! 10 Tips for Nurses and Caregivers

    How often does stress impact your life?  Do you think you manage it well?  Does most of your stress come from your personal life…or from work?  If you’re anything like the majority of Americans, it’s safe to assume that stress impacts your life a great deal, you’re probably letting it get the best of you at times, and a good chunk of it stems from your job.  This is normal—unfortunate…yet normal.  We live in a fast-paced society with numerous demands to meet on a daily basis.  All of that combined with a career in the medical field and a nice grab bag of family dram—err, fun…and your stress level might be enough to throw you over the proverbial edge.  The good news is, you don’t have to be a victim to stress!  Read on, and use these tips from our friends at Liberty Insurance to help control the stress in your life.

    Stress is no laughing matter.  It can affect you mentally, emotionally, and even physically, leaving you feeling anxious and helpless.  Workplace stress can be especially overwhelming.  According to the American Institute of Stress, numerous studies show that workplace stress is the major source of stress for Americans.  Healthcare workers, in particular, often suffer from workplace stress due to the demanding nature of their work.  In fact, ComPsych, the world’s largest provider of employee assistance programs, reports that healthcare workers are responsible for the largest number of stress and anxiety-related calls to their helpline.

    Do you fall into that category?  Check out the signs and symptoms below.

    • Anxiety and irritability
    • Apathy, loss of interest in work
    • Sleep problems
    • Fatigue
    • Trouble concentrating
    • Muscle tension or headaches
    • Social withdrawal
    • Coping with alcohol or drugs
    • Digestive problems

    Compassion Fatigue: When caring too much is making you ill

    If regular stress wasn’t enough, healthcare workers and caregivers can also experience a special kind of stress, known as Compassion Fatigue.  Over time, the ability to feel and care for others becomes eroded through overuse of their skills or compassion.  Because they care so deeply about their patients or loved ones, healthcare professionals and caregivers who listen to stories of fear, pain, and suffering can find themselves empathetically experiencing similar emotions.

    If you’re experiencing these feelings, it’s important to know that you are not alone.  There are many others in the same boat with you, and there are many ways to keep it afloat!  The symptoms and treatment for Compassion Fatigue are similar to that of most kinds of stress.  Here are ten practical ways to prevent it from overtaking your life at work and at home.

    10 Tips for Reducing Stress

    1. Know what triggers you.

    What really sets you off? The very first step in taking control of your stress is to recognize your personal triggers, helping you to avoid a stress response altogether.

    1. Manage your work-life balance.

    While your career is important, it shouldn’t overtake everything in your life.  Make time for interests you enjoy outside of your job.  Whether they are active, like playing a sport, or quiet, like reading, it’s important to engage in activities you find enjoyable, relaxing, or fulfilling.

    1. Don’t forget to take care of yourself.

    While you spend so much time in the day taking care of patients and family members, don’t forget to practice some self-care as well!  Never underestimate how much your physical condition affects how well you can handle stress.  Develop and nurture healthy habits like regular exercise, proper nutrition and adequate sleep, and keep the alcohol and tobacco use to a minimum, if at all!

    1. Manage your time.

    Time has the power to make or break your stress level.  In fact, it’s safe to say there are few things that add more stress than running late for something, especially your next shift!  Plan ahead, be proactive, and make more time for the important things.  While ten minutes of extra sleep or scrolling through your social media newsfeed may not seem like a big deal, it could be the difference between missing or catching the bus, traffic jam, elevator, or anything else that could stand in your way of having an easier, less stressful commute.  Leave a little earlier and breathe a little easier.

    1. Learn to love organization.

    Do you often find yourself searching for misplaced items, forgetting about appointments, or accomplishing less than you intended?  Better organization will help you overcome these issues, leaving more room for efficiency and productivity, and less room for unnecessary stress.

    1. Resist perfectionism.

    Newsflash—life isn’t perfect, so don’t try be.  While we all could make improvements to certain aspects of our lives, aiming for perfection will leave you destined for feelings of failure.

    1. Adopt a positive attitude.

    Experts at the Mayo Clinic say that positive self-talk will improve your outlook.  Additionally, when your state of mind is generally optimistic, you’re able to handle whatever life throws at you in a more constructive way!  Make it a point to see the glass half full, and just notice the difference it can make!

    1. Talk it over with a trusted listener.

    Venting, or talking out a problem with someone who is both supportive and empathetic can be a great way to let off steam and relieve stress.  However, be careful not to get too carried away.  Keep it productive, and don’t get caught up with just complaining and gossiping, otherwise your trusted listener might need one of their own!

    1. Ask for help.

    Talk to your supervisor at work and let them know what’s bothering you.  You can work together to develop a plan for relieving some of your stressors, which in turn will make you a better employee.  It’s a win-win!

    1. Take a time-out.

    Sometimes you just need a short breather to disconnect from your environment to prevent your stress level from going through the roof.  If possible, step away and do some short breathing exercises or take a short walk to clear your mind and calm your nerves.  Also, don’t forget that a little humor goes a long way to diffuse a stressful situation!  A nice laugh with coworkers might be just what you need to put an upswing on an otherwise stressful day.

    Ultimately, stress will always be present in one form or another.  Nobody gets to have a perfect ride through life—you just have to know how to handle the bumps along the way.  I hope that these tips prove to be useful for you!  If you have any others you’d like to share, please comment below!  We’d love to hear from you!

    Harmony is founded with a single focus in mind: providing compassionate home care and home healthcare to the residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

    Our trustworthy caregivers are ready to lend a helping hand to your mother, father, children, and loved ones in Allegheny County, Westmoreland County, Armstrong County, and many more locations throughout the region. Contact us and one of our patient advocates will be happy to discuss how Harmony's programs can help your family today.


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    Author: Michelle Adams

    with contributions from Liberty Insurance Agency


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