Friday, March 14, 2008

Getting Creative to Relieve Nurse Stress

Do you remember learning about the aging process in 3rd or 4th semester of nursing school? Little did you know when you took your geriatric nursing courses in nursing school that so many of your patients were actually going to be so old. It goes without saying but the higher the age, the higher the acuity!

How about the number of diabetic patients these days? It seems that routinely 3 out of 5 patients require accuchecks and insulin coverage. In many cases, the nurse assistant is not certified to do accuchecks so the responsibility falls on the nurse.

Have you ever experienced being told that you were going to get a new patient and one minute later the phone rings and it's someone wanting to give you report...and you're thinking, "But I just discharged my other patient less than five minutes ago...I haven't finished my charting...I'm not ready for another patient yet!"

Limited Choices Increase Nurse Stress

These examples fall under the category of what I like to refer to as "Lack of Choice Increases Nurse Stress." Going back to the geriatric nursing courses we all took. Do you remember learning the concept that it is a MYTH to think that getting older is less stressful? The idea that as you get older, you enter the "golden years" and life is grand is a MYTH. In fact, in many cases getting older begins to limit our freedoms and our choices. In many cases getting older is a more stressful time because your choices become more narrow!

Whenever choices are limited or taken away, the stress level will increase. Therefore, when a nurse has no choice as to the age, diagnosis, diabetic status, isolation status or timing of her patients, her stress can increase. There are many other circumstances that the nurse can't control during her work day and this can increase her stress also. If she does choose to not accept a certain patient, then she may feel that she is burdening one of her co-workers who will have to take the patient instead. It sometimes feels like a lose/lose situation.

Taking Care of Yourself is Not Optional!

That is why it is absolutely imperative that nurses take care of themselves. Get good nutrition. Get rest! Lay off the sugar. Feed your soul. Speak up!!! Get creative and think of solutions on your floor that will benefit you and your co-workers.

My co-worker and I organized a potluck at my house in January. We called it, "Nurturing the Nurses." Even though we sent out flyers way ahead of time, the turn out wasn't that high. Do nurses put themselves last on the list? Anyway, the nurses who did show up had a great time! We spent time talking and relating with each other in a completely stress-free (non-hospital) environment. We told NON-nursing stories of our lives and had lots of laughs. Holding a potluck in your home is a great way to relieve stress!

Question: Do you believe that the less choices you have in life, the higher your stress level? Please post an answer by hitting "Comments" at the bottom of this blog post and type away!

Wishing you good health,
Theresa Waller, RN
714 293 5398
Take Care of Yourself Nurses!

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