How Self-Care Can Reduce Nurse Stress

Nurses endure a lot of stress. The long hours and demanding shifts can put a massive strain on their physical, mental, and emotional health.

Over the years, several studies have documented the impact of work-related stress; one study found that nurses experiencing excessive stress from work had double the risk for a heart attack, while another discovered that workers who put in more than 10 hours a day had a 60% higher risk for heart disease than those who worked a more standard 7 hours per day. Armed with that information, nurses are faced with a myriad of potential poor health outcomes.

Stress not only affects nurses’ well-being but can also impact their ability to provide the best, most compassionate care to their patients. Small acts of self-care can go a long way to help reduce nurse stress and prevent burnout. Here are a few easy tips any nurse can incorporate to mitigate stress and improve their overall physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Get moving

Exercise not only has physical, but also psychological benefits. When we exercise, our body releases endorphins, chemicals which interact with receptors in our brain and trigger positive feelings in the body.

But that doesn’t mean you have to get off the couch and start running marathons; there are many different exercises that can help reduce stress, like yoga. Whether it’s a challenging yoga class or a slower, relaxing flow, yoga utilizes movements that improve circulation and help calm your mind.

Yoga not your style? Even taking a walk around the block with a friend can help improve cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness as well as your mood. Whichever form of exercise you choose, it matters less how you move, and matters more than you do. Strive to hit 30 minutes of exercise a day, and you’ll be well on your way to seeing some positive health benefits.

Eat stress-relieving foods

Diet and nutrition play a large role in our ability to manage stress. Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet (SAD – a fitting abbreviation) – characterized by high intakes of red meat, pre-packaged foods, fried foods, high-fat dairy products, refined grains, and sugar – has been identified as a major contributor of health issues, such as obesity, heart disease, and stress, in the US.

Focusing on incorporating nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, fatty fish and lean proteins, and swapping out alcohol and caffeine in favor of water can go a long way to help reduce and manage stress. Not to mention, there are many other health benefits associated with healthy eating, like weight-management and improved cardiovascular health.

With busy schedules, it can be difficult for nurses to shop, prepare, and consume healthier foods; it can be much easier to fall back on pre-packaged, grab-and-go food. Instead of a complete diet overhaul, nurses should focus on incorporating fresh, unprocessed foods into their routine, and look for healthier on-the-go options for the busy days.

Reduce screen time

With new healthcare technologies emerging every day, nurses spend more time looking at a screen than ever before. While these technologies have been designed to improve patient care, they may actually be negatively impacting the professionals who look at them all day. Recent studies have found significant associations between screen time and moderate to severe depression in US adults.

When off the clock, nurses should reduce screen time to lessen the likelihood of eye strain, stress, anxiety, and depression. Enjoying time with family and friends, going outdoors, or reading a book are all fulfilling activities that avoid screens and can reduce nurse stress.

There’s no single right way to tackle stress, and there’s no perfect solution to prevent nursing burnout. Whether it’s a beginner’s yoga class, preparing a healthy meal, or spending a screen-free day with your loved ones, the most important aspect of embracing self-care is taking time for yourself. Thank you for caring for others – now it’s time to care of you!

IntelyCare was created by nurses, for nurses. We’re here to take care of those who take care of everyone else; our staffing solution gives nurses the opportunity for a better, more flexible schedule to help reduce nurse stress. At IntelyCare, we’re driven to offer nurses and CNAs healthcare’s best working experience. Apply today.