“I resigned my staff nurse position today,” my young colleague confessed, “after only 7 months. I loved taking care of patients and families, but just couldn’t take it anymore – the other nurses complaining, but never speaking out, the rude behavior and put downs, and the nurse manager who made bad decisions and supported the wrong people – will it be like this in my next job? I feel like such a failure.” I have heard this story at least three times over the past year and I am only an N of 1. Recent studies have documented the alarming percentage of nurses who are leaving their jobs or leaving the profession climbing to 17.2 % in 2016 and costing hospitals an average of $5.2M – $8.1M annually. 1 Reasons cited by nurses for leaving include poor management, and stressful work conditions, including inadequate staffing, verbal abuse, and work-life balance issues. 2, 3 While employing organizations are deciding how to tackle this problem, you need stress relief now to get you through the day. First, let’s revisit the concept stress, then consider a few simple and creative strategies that you can use to get the elephant out of your workday ---- STRESS!
Hans Selye, a Canadian physician, conceptualized the “stress response” and conducted research on how it worked after observing patients’ responses to the stress of hospitalization. 4 “Stressors” are those factors experienced or perceived by individuals as causing harm or distress. “Experienced” or “perceived” is an important distinction since the stressor can be real and direct like a contracting a virus or being robbed at gunpoint or the stressor could be the result of how we view a situation; a putdown for one nurse can be devastating and for another a minor blip in the course of a day’s work. The apathy of her colleagues, rude behavior, put downs, and the passivity of the nurse manager were my colleague’s perceived “stressors.” Stress, on the other hand, is the individual’s reaction or the body’s response to real and perceived threats whether that reaction is manifested physically or mentally. In this case, my young colleague’s reaction was to let the stressors overwhelm her to the point of leaving – remember fight or flight? She could have tried to “change her perceptions,” “change her reactions,” “change her behavior or get help,” instead the stress led to resignation. Depending on the severity of the stress, individuals and organizations always have a measure of control in managing “stressors.” Instead of merely reacting, striving to develop a deep awareness of how you can plan, craft, and control your responses to difficult situations can be the first step to stress inoculation.
You get to choose how to “vaccinate” your stress. Choose “ingredients” based on your preferences, style, and time – some take no time, others take a commitment of 20 minutes to half an hour per day. Try one strategy per week to find what is right for you. Continue with those you believe are helping you to respond effectively instead of reacting haphazardly and then move on to more structured and serious stress management modalities. Below is a simple formula to begin stress reduction. It’s your choice!
So there is it, a simple formula that will get your started to managing every day stress:
If your health is at risk or your situation is dire, consult a health professional. Take care of yourself!
Gloria F. Donnelly, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, FCPP
Professor and Dean Emerita
Editor in Chief, Holistic Nursing Practice
This post was republished from the Lippincott Nursing Center blog with permission. For more details on everything Wolters Kluwer is doing to celebrate National Nurses Week 2017, please click the box below.Nurses Week 2017