Stress is part of life, especially for all nurses. Here are 11 practical tips to master wellbeing and manage your stress. Keep this list handy and work on making course corrections as you navigate through your life!

  1. Get a grip on your time. Plan. Stress sets up the notion that there is NO TIME and yet, planning actually saves time.
  2. Identify where your stressors are coming from. If you feel like you are trying to outrun your stress and can’t speed up anymore to catch up, then slow down and take a moment and reflect. Once you figure out where the stress is coming from, either busy nursing shifts, family issues or nursing school, you can set up a plan to tackle it.
  3. Keep your toolbox handy. You need a variety of stress strategies. Heart focused breathing may work sometimes and others you may need to tap instead. Using something every day actually builds your stress capacity and makes you more resilient.
  4. Identify what you actually control and work on that. Your spouse, friends, co-workers, boss, the economy, politics are some things you cannot control. You can control your time, how you react, what you accomplish, what you eat and how you feel. Focus on this and you will feel much better.
  5. Do the basics.  Eat healthy, sleep, drink water, pray, exercise, have fun. When you compromise these basics you leave yourself vulnerable to stress.
  6. Increase meaning and purpose in your life. What are you passionate about? What do you love doing? What is meaningful to you? Do these things. It will reduce your stress!
  7. Manage your priorities. One of the biggest stressors is not feeling like you have enough time. We all only have 24 hours in a day. It is not really time that you need to manage – it is what is important. Stress forces you to focus on urgent rather than what is important and your priorities then become mismanaged. Step back and look at the big picture and keep your eye on what is most important to you.
  8. Align your “to-do’s” with your core values. Do your activities support your ultimate goals? Whether it is your children’s after school activities or meetings with your nursing staff at work – are these activities in line with your goals? Do your children really want to attend these activities or are they pleasing you? Are you volunteering because of a passion for the cuase or a compulsive need to be busy?
  9. Learn to say NO so you can say YES to your life. If you’re a people-pleaser, saying no may feel really uncomfortable. As soon as you can say "no", you allow yourself the opportunity to say "yes" to your life. What you do for others cannot define you. Step out of your comfort zone and take a stand. No simply means you are choosing your activities based on your value system. Happy people protect their time and allow themselves this privacy.
  10. Learn the difference between worrying, caring and overcaring. In the throes of a stress reaction, worry is often the outcome. Worry helps to reduce anxiety and gives you the false impression of doing something. Worry is like a rocking chair – you may be in motion but you are not going anywhere or making any progress. The stress reaction also tends to exaggerate how you feel so something small can become a pile of problems. Worry is not action. Caring is when you have empathy and compassion for someone who may be going through a difficult time. It is a loving act and can be expressed in doing, praying, being with someone. Overcaring is caring with worry. When you take on the suffering of someone and worry about that person, you are no longer empathetic instead you are attempting to live their difficult in the hopes you can lessen their burden. In reality, you may be increasing that burden as you are not more obviously upset and may be a source of worry for the very person you are “caring” about.
  11. Exercise compassion.  Stress is made worse for nurses with a perfectionist attitude. Being a perfectionist is not about being the best you can be or personal growth. It is one way ticket to depression, anxiety, addictions, procrastination and shame. Perfectionism says that making mistakes means you are a mistake and the fear of being imperfect short circuits efforts to put yourself out there.


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