Why is nursing categorized as one of the most stressful jobs of all? What is about this profession that makes mental health issues so prevalent among individuals? Did this happen during the pandemic when there was an unprecedented influx of people? Or was it like that from the outset? These are just a few of the many questions that one must be asking to understand an unrealistically higher proportion of stress and mental fatigue issues associated with this career.
Nurses spend most of their time with patients, helping them through the most vulnerable time of their lives. So witnessing death and trauma is quite a norm in this profession. Even before the pandemic, nurses were overworked and burdened due to long shifts and unhealthy work patterns. The pandemic worsened the matter, and healthcare workers can still feel its aftermath.
The lack of qualified staff forced nurses to work longer shifts and took a toll on their physical and mental health. Therefore, it is common to find nurses burned out in this profession. Many hospitals are not paying attention to their nurses’ mental and physical health. But, if not corrected in time, the results will be devastating for healthcare. However, nurses themselves can improve their mental health and counter depression. Here are some ways for nurses to counter depressing situations.
- Be more prepared for challenging roles
The incapability to respond to your patients’ needs can put you on the back foot when it comes to career success. It can also tarnish your self-perception, causing stress and a loss of motivation to fight. While other reasons for stress have been mentioned above, lack of knowledge is in your power to solve. Nurses with a diploma must enroll in online MSN programs or BSN degree programs. With online programs, they study and practice at the same time.
Many nurses are still working in healthcare with outdated information. Often, they face challenges beyond their scope of expertise and knowledge. Given the challenging nature of healthcare, upskilling is indispensable. Higher education gives confidence in your abilities, improves your working efficiency, and expands your professional clout and prestige. So, one can infer that many nurses can better prepare themselves for depressing situations by gaining more knowledge in their field.
- Never back out from fighting
When you signed up to work as a nurse, you were pretty much aware of what would come along. So, now is not the time to crawl into your bed whenever you face trauma or a depressing situation. Even if it is debilitating, you have to understand that it is a part of your job.
Think about it, for how long can you remain in solitude and think about a dying person or a kid crying for their mother? By doing so, you cannot help anyone because you are not in control of your emotions. So staying strong in the face of stress is an essential skill for a nurse, one that you must master as soon as possible. You have to keep moving and dispensing your duties. A better way to deal with stress is to develop a buddy group where you can share your stressful experience. Seeing that everyone else is working in the same circumstances will help you pragmatically manage your situation.
- Take breaks intermittently
In most cases, nurses have long shifts and constantly work for 12 hours. Take short breaks whenever you witness a situation beyond your strength. Sit under the sun if it is a sunny day, and spend some time close to nature. Proximity to nature is proved to have positive effects on one’s mood. It can rejuvenate your spirits, preparing you once again for your work.
- Have plenty of sleep
Sleep deprivation and failure to find time to sleep are common complaints made by most nurses. But you must realize that sleep is essential for you. Often knots of stress develop because of a lack of enough sleep. Don’t compromise your sleep, even if it means keeping distance from parties and friends’ get-togethers.
Many nurses also lament that they cannot sleep at night, and nightmares interrupt their sleep when they do. Getting immediate professional help is necessary if this is happening to you. Some healthy habits such as writing in a journal, participating in support forums or a facility, or talking to people with similar experiences can help. Moreover, you must also regulate your sleep schedule. Stick to your routine of getting to bed and waking up in the morning to develop a healthy sleep cycle.
- Take out some personal time
Though many of you will argue that it is quite difficult to take time for yourself with the busy schedule and hectic routine, it is necessary too. Be sure to have some personal time, even if it happens infrequently or over the weekend. Spend time with your family and discuss your experiences and things bothering you.
Moreover, if you are fond of reading, you can grab a book and be part of another world for some time. Books can present an excellent retreat from your current predicament. In short, you need something that gets you off of this painful and stressful situation.
- Make exercising part of your routine
There is no repudiating the positive health effects of including exercise in your routine. Just like stress is part of a nurse’s everyday job, countermeasures to reduce stress should be adhered to. Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that exercising signals and improves the productivity of the feel-good hormone, known as endorphins. This chemical present in the brain is a natural painkiller.
Exercising improves blood circulation, improves mood, reduces stress, and clears knots of fatigue in the back, shoulder, and neck. It also keeps you active, increases your focus, and improves productivity. A proper exercise regime also improves your sleep pattern.
You don’t need to exercise for hours on end; a short thirty minutes added to your routine is enough. Some ways of exercising include taking long walks, hitting the gym for a thirty minutes session, doing yoga, and meditation. You can combine all these ways and develop your regime for a workout.
It is impossible to think about stressful jobs and occupations and leave nursing out. The Occupational Information Network also mentions nursing among the top five stressful jobs in the US. Surprisingly, nursing can also beat occupations like traffic controllers, surgeons, and firefighters regarding stress factors. However, these jobs are stressful in their way too. But ways mentioned above to counter depressing situations are proven and vouched for by experienced nurses. Adhering to these ways can make your job easier and stress-free to some extent.