Four Ways Nurse Leaders Can Address Workplace Stress

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Many studies and research claim workplace stress as a major perpetrator in causing significant health problems. There is crucial evidence suggesting that workplace stress may result from every individual’s interpretation and cognitive appraisal of certain situations. However, among nurses, stress is well documented and has reached an all-time high during Covid-19. Nurses are among those healthcare professionals who suffered the most in terms of workplace hazards, stress, and burnout amidst the pandemic. In such circumstances, the staff looks towards a leader who can improve the working environment and pave the way for nurses to cope with workplace stress. Let’s take a look at how nurses in leadership roles can fight against stress in the workplace.

  1. Create a Healthy Working Environment

There is no doubt that nurses had to work in some of the harshest conditions during the pandemic. The feeling of being isolated and even suffocated is understandable with strict rules for wearing protective gear and practicing social distancing. A survey of 900 nurses in 2018 determined that over 50% of nurses said that their workload negatively impacted their performance and health. While 47% said that they wished they had better access to mental health care in hospitals. In such a situation, a nurse leader needs to promote the importance of a healthy working environment, help create policies, and implement them.

Moreover, leaders can also educate young nurses about the expectations and high skills required for the profession. Individuals willing to become nurse leaders can opt for DNP programs online to help them cope with the challenges. Fortunately, online education allows them to continue their studies along with their regular duties. Nurse leaders can also support work-life balance among the staff, clarify responsibilities, and enforce policies for regular breaks.

  1. Help Address and Identify Stressors

The effects of stress in the workplace can manifest in many ways if left undiagnosed, and identifying stressors and factors which trigger stress is crucial. Nurse leaders can help identify, track, and address everyday stressors in the workplace and encourage nurses to determine their individual problems to manage them. For instance, some common symptoms of stress that nurses can experience during work include:

  • loss of appetite
  • tiredness, anxiety, and irritation
  • lack of sleep
  • burnout and lack of energy
  • difficulty concentrating
  • depression, cynicism, and fear

A nurse leader should take charge and counsel other nurses to develop strategies for identifying personal stressors. For this purpose, nurses can keep a journal or diary and make notes whenever they feel anxious or get overwhelmed by certain situations. Nurse leaders can also transform such strategies into group activities. They can talk about common situations and workplace factors that cause them stress. Another way for nurse leaders to spread awareness about workplace stress is to encourage the staff to take time off for self-care. They can help set aside time for nurses to recharge themselves by taking a nap, having a long lunch break, stepping out for a walk, talking with other colleagues, or meditating.

  1. Promote Stress Management Therapies and Techniques

Taking care of those who can’t look after themselves is the core purpose of the nursing profession. However, the same goes for the nurses themselves when they face difficulties in performing their duties. To provide quality care to patients, nurses need to be mentally and physically in better health. Work stress is one such factor that can negatively impact the health and emotional state of nurses. The best way to tackle workplace stress for nurses is to find ways to manage that stress and its effects. Nurse leaders play an essential role in helping other nurses understand the importance of self-care and managing their stress.

Nurse leaders can arrange stress management therapies at the workplace to help nurses improve their performance. For instance, they can organize small compulsory meditation or breathing sessions for everyone since it is hard for nurses to take out time after their long shifts. Therefore, nurse leaders should promote workplace stress management techniques and guide staff members if they require individual therapies. They can also educate the staff about different stress busters.

  1. Have an Open Line of Communication

Leaders need to be good communicators because, without it, no work environment can remain healthy. In healthcare settings, strong communication is crucial because people’s lives depend on it. Just as nurses practice communication to improve patient care, nurse leaders should utilize their strong communication skills to reduce workplace stress. They should make other staff members feel that they can always come to a nurse leader to discuss issues related to the workplace. For instance, if the staff thinks that the management should avoid contacting them after work, they should communicate this problem to a nurse leader if they can’t do it themselves.

This reduces the staff’s frustration and lack of motivation when they know that someone can fight for their case. Clear and concise communication is an effective tool in managing workplace stress. It is not only important for communicating workplace issues but also for sharing patient information. To reduce miscommunication and stress related to sharing complex and critical information among other professionals, nurse leaders should voice the concern of providing the right tools for effective communication. It is also vital for nurse leaders to take feedback from other colleagues and express them on an official platform.

Conclusion

Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare industry and a vital part of patient care. However, the harsh working environments and endless shifts can leave even nurses exhausted. Lack of motivation, tiredness, and depression can all be the work of stress. When nurses face the workplace stress, it affects their performance, ultimately risking the care provided to patients. Nurse leaders can play an essential role in creating a healthy work environment by encouraging stress management in such situations. They should help identify everyday stressors and find ways for the staff to tackle the problem. They should promote mental health, stress management techniques, and awareness about identifying factors that cause stress in the workplace.

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