A Few Reminders to Minimize Your Stress and Support Your Patients

Close up of a nurse touching hand of a patient in hospital ward

Nursing can be one of the most rewarding professions because you’re able to help others each and every day.

However, we have all seen and felt the common emotions of stress, anxiety and fear in a hospital setting. These feelings are not just experienced by patients and their loved ones, but healthcare workers as well. As nurses, it’s often crucial that you support others emotionally while healing them physically, but what do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Here are our best tips for managing stress in patients, families, and yourself.

1. Know Yourself and Recognize When You Are Feeling Stressed

In order to help others, it’s important to understand yourself first, and to acknowledge how you are feeling. Practice recognizing the feelings you get when a negative emotional response like stress or anxiety is activated in your body. Being able to recognize your own worry can help you manage it better. Being calm in a stressful situation will not only help you do your job better, but could also mean the world to a frightened patient. Whether your tell tale sign is feeling a knot in your stomach or an increased heart rate, take a few deep breaths before you speak or act. Whatever it is, know you can do it and do it well.

2. Listen Actively, Whether To A Patient or Your Loved Ones

Sometimes all your patient needs is to be heard, which is why listening is an important skill for nurses to have, and one you likely practice without even realizing it. It can be as simple as taking a few minutes to sit down, talk to your patient, and ask how they are feeling. Remember to listen actively, especially as you walk out those hospital doors. Most people just want to be listened to or asked how they are feeling, that includes your loved ones, your co-workers and new friends! So take the time to really engage in the conversations you are having outside of work, and reap the benefits of your finely tuned listening skills.

3. Help Patients Get Comfortable in “Your House” 

A common reason for patients to be anxious in a hospital setting is because theymay be unsure of what to expect or why it is happening. By guiding your patient through what you are doing and why you are doing it, you’re building trust and helping them comprehend their healing process. Throughout your career, you will have patients that are familiar with the hospital setting and its routines, but more often than not, you will meet countless patients who are experiencing their first hospital visit and are nervous about it. They’re in your house now, so show them a good time.

4. Promote Relaxation Through Your Actions

Has anyone ever told you to relax? Often in times of stress that word only serves to increase tension. The best way to help your patient relax is to simply ask them what you can do to make them more comfortable. While some patients may be able to communicate what they need, others may not be able to. In cases like these, guide your patient through a few breathing techniques, check their vitals so they feel comforted, dim the lights, or offer the services of the chaplain. Sometimes it can be as simple as using humor to lighten the mood, providing them with a warm cup of tea, or even asking them about their life outside of the hospital!

5. Practice Empathy

This is perhaps one of the most important tips we can offer. Being empathetic will not only show in how you care for them, but can be the true key in helping your patient and their family members relax. Knowing that the nurse caring for them genuinely wants to help can be all the difference. Empathy is also a critical skill for your every day life to build more meaningful relationships. Nurses have some of the biggest hearts out there! So it’s time to show it off: In every situation, do your best to show those in your life you truly care about their well being.

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