4 Ways to Reduce Your Stress, Stat!

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Stress management for nursesWhen you’re a nurse, moments of extreme stress come up all the time. You’re making quick decisions, and caring for patients in some of the most vulnerable moments in their lives.

You may already know and practice stress-relieving activities outside of work, like working out, or spending time on a hobby. But what about some in-the-moment ways to make sure you keep your cool? Here are some effective stress remedies.


  • Take deep, slow breaths



      “Take a breather” isn’t just a catchphrase or a cliché. It’s tried-and-true advice. The goal is to breathe deeply from your abdomen, rather than your upper chest, where you’re likely to be taking quick, sharp breaths when you’re in a moment of high stress. Breathing low and slow helps to reset the rate of your breathing to an even pace, lessening tension and anxiety in the process.

To help yourself learn to do it right, put one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen while you breath in and out. See if you can make only the lower hand move. The more you practice deep breathing when you’re stressed, the more effective it will be. And it’s something you can do while at work, in the moment.


  • Send yourself positive messages

When you repeat negative or critical comments to yourself, you’re more likely to spiral downward in a moment of high stress. It may feel cheesy at first, but repeating positive affirmations can really help get you out of a pattern of negative thinking, and make a big difference when you’re tense.


Pick a few key, affirming phrases or sentences to remember and repeat to yourself, like I am doing my best or I can stay calm under pressure. The more you tell yourself these things, the more you believe them, act accordingly, and will feel like things are under control.


  • Find a confidante

Talking it out can help too, even when you’re short on time and just have a few moments to vent. Chances are good that you have at least one fellow nurse you vibe well with. After a particularly stressful situation or interaction, see if you can have just a few minutes of his or her time, and let off some steam.


As long as you trust that your coworker will keep your complaints confidential, let it out. Sometimes just sharing your frustrations can go a long way in getting you through the rest of the shift.


  • Prioritize and delegate

Finally, a lot of on-the-job stress can come from feeling completely overwhelmed. As a nurse, you’re being hit with the needs of many patients (and sometimes their family members) at once. So it’s key to think to yourself, what’s the most important — and time-sensitive thing — I should do first? This will help you make solid decisions on what to do first, then second, and so on.


When you’re in the habit of thinking through the priority level of all the demands, they’ll be much easier to deal with, and the stressful moment will pass.

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