Nurses must manage stress as part of their job. There are the visible stressors, the large patient load, and long hours, as well as the invisible, like the unspoken need to always do more. But what happens when the stressor is one that could put your nursing license at risk — when the stressor is one that could mean the end of your career?
This is the stress we find ourselves facing when we are the subject of an investigation by the nursing board. This is the stress we must navigate while likely continuing to provide quality care to our patients.
How do we manage?
The following can help:
#1. Recognize the stressor.
The first step towards managing stress is to acknowledge its presence. Our body will give us nonverbal cues, like increased adrenaline, a spike in cortisol and raised blood pressure. After time, these can all leading to exhaustion and a decreased immune response ultimately triggering increased risk of illness. Recognize these things as possible signs of stress and take action to address the impact this stress is having on your body.
#2. Take steps to reduce the impact of stress.
The tools we use to fight stress in this situation are the same as those we use whenever we face stress. The nursing profession is unique in that it requires a high level of intellectual, physical, and emotional awareness. Having stress under control means we can function at our best, that our awareness in these three areas is more likely to be fully operational.
Tips proven to help nurses manage stress and function at our best include:
- Breathing exercises. Sometimes the simplest forms of management are the best. Breathing works, and for good reason. We know that taking deep breaths for five or more minutes will have a direct impact on our physiological response. Our heart rate will slow, and our blood pressure drop, both leading to a reduction in stress.
- Exercise. We can also manage stress through physical exertion. Go for a run, take up a kickboxing course or join a bike club. Even getting in a walk over a lunch break can help. Whatever physical activity is enjoyable will also translate to measurable stress relief. One note, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that we make the most of these benefits by mixing both high and low intensity forms of exercise.
- Sleep management. Insomnia intensifies our reaction to stress. Try relatively simple changes like adding exercise, eating well, and reducing caffeine intake before bed for a good night’s rest.
If these do not work, therapy may offer an opportunity to explore any underlaying issues like anxiety, or depression.
#3. Delegate the fight, focus on the future
You do not have to go through this fight alone. Legal counsel can advocate for your interests. You can find someone who has experience fighting these battles to stand by your side and help build a defense to allegations of wrongdoing, to help you keep that license you have worked so hard to achieve.
Attorney John Rivas is responsible for this communication