February 20, 2011

Tips for Reducing Stress in the Workplace

Posted in Nursing Tips tagged , at 5:04 am by Nursing Tales Team

Stress is defined as a feeling experienced when a person receives demands that exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize. Every work environment has its own share of stress, but hospitals are especially stressful because patients’ health is an urgent matter and nurses handle situations daily that may result in death if not handled correctly. With higher populations and a rise in chronic conditions such as obesity, budget cuts, and a shortage of adequately trained health care professionals available to fill the need, more work is expected from nurses with fewer resources to fill that need. These tips may help you reduce the stress in your workplace.

1. Standardize. Your training and the hospital’s policies probably regulate most of the processes in your department, but look for areas of inconsistency. Where do you find gaps in information, communication, or follow up? Can you work with your fellow employees to determine the smoothest work flow and define best practices to be used by everyone in your department? Develop checklists for as many routine procedures as possible to make sure customer care is consistent, regardless of who is on shift. You might put the most basic items on badge cards and pass them out on beaded lanyards for the nurses to wear.

2. Do not rely on your memory. Your brain has so much to process; do not tax it more than necessary. Write everything down! Create a To Do list every morning as you come into work or at the end of the day in preparation for the following morning. Keep a notebook handy for any personal errands you need to run after your shift. Organize your workspace and implement useful techniques like wearing your ID badge on a lanyard around your neck at so you have it with you at all times. A lanyard can also carry Post-It note reminders of your To Do list.

3. Manage up. Get to know how your boss operates. Does she need to see things written down or does she prefer hearing the information spoken? Is he an internal or external processor? Assume that your boss is genuinely interested in become a better manager and extend empathy when you offer suggestions for improvement. Look for proactive ways to make her life easier and help her be more efficient. You might also remember her with a gift like beaded lanyards on Boss’ Day (October 16th).

4. Make the most of break time. Do not eat your lunch at your desk. Get away from your station for at least ten minutes. Go to the cafeteria or walk around the building. If there is a nearby park, find a bench to sit on. Do not let other people interrupt your rest. Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths while you envision your favorite location – the beach, or your best friend’s sofa, or your husband’s embrace. Let your mind release its responsibilities for a short period of time and it will be more useful when you return to work.

5. Learn to establish and maintain boundaries. Know yourself and how you handle stress; often a person has external indicators of stress levels, like nail biting. Be aware of these clues and take steps to reorganize your workload so that it is more manageable. If you need more time, explain why the original deadline was un-doable and be precise when asking for a new one. If you need additional funding, get quotes and have a proposed budget ready to hand in. In the end, you need to determine what you can handle and set boundaries around your personal time that others know they cannot cross. Learn to politely say no when appropriate and do not allow yourself to be coerced or cajoled into changing your mind.