5 Tips to Manage the Pressures of Nursing
If you are a healthcare professional, it will come as no surprise to hear that the pressures of an NHS career are at an unprecedented height. Hospitals, GP surgeries and outreach organisations alike are facing financial cuts, staff shortages and time pressures, and whilst the impact of this on patients is widely discussed, there are another group who are being affected by the current climate: nurses.
Research by The Conversation reveals that NHS pressures are hindering ethical practice and caring among UK nurses. Factors such as staffing shortages, time pressures, bed management and administrative tasks were cited as limiting nurses in spending the quality time they would like to with each patient. The concern, as the study notes, is that “the job becomes something of a tick-box exercise that is inherently unprofessional and demotivating.”
There is no denying that the pressure is on for nurses in 2018, so how can nursing professionals successfully manage the stresses of the job?
Managing the pressures of nursing
Nursing is all about helping others and being there to support individuals and their families in their time of need. However, it is important that nursing professionals also look after themselves, not only for their personal wellbeing, but also to provide the highest quality of care on the job.
So, what can you do to manage the pressures of nursing and ensure you get the most out of this incredibly rewarding career?
The first step to managing the pressures of nursing is to get organised. A guide to coping with nursing stress by the Royal College of Nursing suggests:
“take time to regularly review and plan. Practice effective time management especially by avoiding overload.” Whilst you will naturally want to be as helpful as possible, the RCN advises nurses to prioritise tasks in order to execute the most important needs in a timely, effective and non-stressful manner.”
Practice positive thinking
It may seem like an obvious suggestion, but actively trying to think positively is essential in managing the pressures of nursing. When you become stressed, it can be easy to think negatively or be overly self-critical, which is neither healthy nor productive.
Instead, the RCN suggests practicing pragmatic thought processes. They advise,
“Find ways of thinking more realistically, for example,‘I am doing the best that I can in difficult circumstances’. Challenge the inner pressures by turning the musts, oughts and shoulds into likes and preferences, from ‘I must complete this task today’ to ‘I’d like to complete today and I will do what I can, but it is not the end of the world if I don’t’.”
As American Mobile’s Nurse Zone points out,
“Keeping a personal notebook is a safe way to express your feelings. It can also help you organise your thoughts, and come up with solutions to especially stressful situations.”
The moment you arrive home after a shift, set aside just a few minutes to write about your day and vent the pressures of the job productively. This will not only create an outlet for frustrations, making you less likely to take negative energy back into the workplace, it will also help you to reflect on how you can problem-solve more effectively in the future.
Find a lifestyle balance
One of the best ways of alleviating the pressures of nursing is to ensure you have a balanced lifestyle outside of the workplace. Give yourself enough leisure time to recharge and refresh between shifts. Try to plan regular holidays, and do things you enjoy in your down time.
It is also important to stay healthy, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep and maintaining a balanced diet. This will significantly reduce stress, making you more efficient and relaxed at work.
Ask for support
Finally, create a solid network of peers you trust within the workplace to ask for advice and support when you need it, and chat to loved ones about your struggles whenever you need to.
Lucy Speakman, a respiratory nurse at Oxford Health Foundation Trust, wrote for Nursing Times that,
“To gain new understandings and learn lessons from their difficulties, nurses need opportunities for reflection and peer support, ideally through clinical supervision, which ensures support mechanisms are in place.”
Try to find a mentor who has more experience than you in your field, and use them as a resource for professional and emotional support when the pressures of nursing mount up.
Remember, there are always options to help you reduce pressure whilst thriving as a healthcare professional, such as trying out-of-hours work for a less intensive healthcare career. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you to get the most out of your nursing career, contact us today on 03000 243 333.