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This topic contains 5 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Lisa Pisa Lisa Pisa 3 years, 4 months ago.

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    Profile photo of Darcy Ali
    Darcy Ali

    I’m an RN on a med/surg floor, been an RN for 3 years and a nurse for 15 years. First I want to assure anyone reading this post that I really do enjoy my job. I have no desire to quit working the floor or change professions. But some days I feel so stressed when we are busy. I get physical feelings when we are busy, meaning headaches, elevated blood pressures, etc. I know that I can ask for help, but I really don’t like asking for help. It makes me feel like a failure. Anyone have some advice for me?


    Ask for help … really. Look at it as a patient safety issue if nothing else. I think you should feel worse because you are so busy your patients aren’t getting the care you could be giving them if you just asked for help once in a while. I feel your pain, I HATE asking a nurse to try for an IV that I have missed, or place a tube I tried to place and failed at … but for the good of the patients, sometimes you just have to ask for help. If that makes you feel bad, that is something you can work on, but you, your patients, and everyone around you will be happier if you ask for a little help and don’t get so stressed as opposed to you trying to do it all yourself and becoming miserable. IMHO

    Profile photo of Anne

    Many hospitals have employee assistance programs where you can go and have a free confidential conversation with a mental health professional and no one else will know you asked for help.

    In the mean time, are you doing things for yourself on your days off? Do you have friends outside of work or in the neighborhood? Do you exercise at least 3 to 5 times a week? Do you have hobbies, do you have a religious/spiritual connection? Do you have a work friend who can give you honest feedback on whether you are doing anything that is causing undue stress while you are working? Are you taking regular days off? Vacations? Are you taking advantage of continuing education benefits offered by your employer? I am not suggesting that you have to do all of these things, just things that you could look at to see if you have the work/life balance you want or need.

    Do you take the time to eat healthy things at work? Some times nurses skip meals, and rest breaks and even bathroom breaks! Think about what advice you would give another nurse about what is happening to you and then take that advice yourself. Even on the busiest days, take 5 or 10 minutes to recharge yourself, or else you could endanger patients as Jason explained.

    Learn some stress reduction techniques that you can practice at work, like deep breathing, visualizing, meditation, prayer. How about soothing music in the break room, lower level lights, calming art work? Have a unit potluck or after hours party, do things that help develop friendships/relationships at work, which will help you work better as a team and as a byproduct lessen everyone’s stresses.
    If there are things that could be done on your unit to decrease stresses for everyone, then volunteer on the unit committees to implement changes.

    Reflect back on your shift when you are finished, express appreciation to coworkers who helped you, pat yourself on the back for the good things you did for the patients, remember the positive feedback you got from patients and families for your care that day.

    Profile photo of LisaRN

    I agree with both the posts above. ASK FOR HELP! and offer help when you have a little down time! I don’t like asking either and don’t unless I really need it, but I justify everything (one of my many faults) so I justify asking for help by saying to myself, well I help when I can so it won’t hurt to get help when I need it. This makes me feel better about asking. And I can promise you that your co-workers will not have empathy for you if you are obviously drowning and will not ask or take offers of help. They would rather you ask, and offer your assistance when you can as well. Leaving work at work helps and spending time outside, or relaxing while off does as well. Also, I have found that participating in forums such as this helps because I know better than anyone that we do not have many who understand our pain as well a fellow nurses! My family has no clue what it feels like to lose a patient, get yelled out for a mistake made on a horrendous shift, or have a patient hit or make you feel like crap for a simple thing they have blown out of proportion. They listen, and try to understand, but only those who have been in our shoes truly know and understand our pain. Try and analyze exactly what causes you stress, and come up with an action plan to fix it, or at least make it better. I hum under my breath when I am on the verge of crying or yelling at a patient or co-worker. I tell myself I can do anything for 12 hours, and this too will pass. More than anything we can’t let stress get so bad it causes burn out and causes us to become cold and cynical in our job. This is dangerous to our patients foremost, but to us as well. We have worked hard to get where we are in our professions, and we have to find a way to control our stress levels before it causes health issues or God forbid issues for a patient. Laughter is a good de-stressor as well. I laugh to keep from crying at times. Also, if you leave the shift and everyone is alive and you feel you have done your very best, know this has been a good shift. Also, think of just one patient compliment, or one good patient outcome you have help provide and focus on that instead of the bad. Good luck, and keep the faith!

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