How Nurses Can Cope with Stress, Burnout, and Depression from the Job

If you or one of your colleagues is dealing with some of these issues, learn about some of the ways you can better cope with the stress of nursing.
cope with stress, burnout, depression

We all know how tough the nursing industry can be. You spend years in nursing school, learning the ins and outs of various medical procedures. And then once you graduate, you have to cope with long hours on the floor, late nights and a never-ending stream of new patients. Some nurses have a difficult time living up to the expectations of their job. The facility might be short-staffed, leading to a slew of around-the-clock shifts. Or a new set of procedures can set some nurses over the edge into a pit of depression, stress and fatigue, also known as nurse burnout. If you or one of your colleagues is dealing with some of these issues, learn about some of the ways you can better cope with the stress of nursing.

Identify Stressors in the Workplace

Every workplace is different, and some nurses will respond to their environment in different ways. If you feel overwhelmed on the job, a few events or interactions might be responsible. Try to stay on top of your stress levels on the job and see if you notice when a situation goes from bad to worse. Maybe a patient was extra ornery or one of your colleagues isn’t doing their job. Whatever sets you off, make a mental note and try to avoid these situations going forward. If a problem continues, you can try talking to your nursing manager to see if you can remedy the situation.

Taking a Time Out

Being a nurse can leave your head spinning. You have to deal with a thousand details at any given moment, and sometimes you just need a break. But instead of staring at your phone or social media on your lunch hour, try to clear your mind by avoiding new information. Looking at the news isn’t going to calm your nerves. Step outside and let your mind wander for a few minutes. Sometimes a mental reprieve is all you need to get back on your feet.

Talk to Your Manager or HR Rep

If something is fundamentally wrong with your work situation, you should try your best to change the situation. Whatever the problem may be, talk to your nurse manager or HR rep to find a solution. You might need to change your work schedule, work more shifts with shorter hours, or change facilities or departments.

If you’re dealing with an unsavory colleague, see if you can work opposite schedules or report them to the HR rep. Your HR department should be familiar with these kinds of situations. If you’re dealing with stress, burnout or depression, the HR department might offer some stress management courses or another way of coping on the job. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if your job is getting the better of you.

Taking Care of Your Body

Of course, the best way to deal with stress and fatigue is to take care of your body. Try your best to get a good night’s sleep every night, usually around eight hours. Working long hours can make this difficult, but you can make the most of your time off by avoiding caffeine and alcoholic beverages that can take away from your sleeping schedule. Try to eat a balanced diet with lean protein, fruits and vegetables. And do your best to avoid unhealthy snacks and sugar that can sap your energy or cause you to crash later in the day.

If you’re struggling with the demands of being a nurse, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Chances are that some of your colleagues or supervisors are dealing with the same issues. When you express yourself, you have a better chance of working through some of these challenges.  


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Zach Smith

Zach Smith

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