Nursing is one of the most noble careers. Nurses are consistently regarded as one of the most trustworthy professions. They are the backbone of the nation. They are quite genuinely what keeps our healthcare up and running. The pandemic has proven this again and again, in both big and small ways, because it isn’t the doctors that are at the forefront of the virus, it is nurses who are there with patients’ day in and day out, caring for them and helping them manage their symptoms.
Nursing can be an excellent and even lucrative career, but only if a nurse invests in their education and pushes for the next level of qualification. There is no time or room to take time out from your career, which is why the preferred option today are online nurse practitioner programs.
Entirely online, flexible, and designed specifically for working nurses, these online nurse practitioner programs have been helping nurses around the country make gains in their own career, but they do have their limits. They cannot help you manage the stress or fatigue associated with your job, especially during the pandemic. They cannot help you juggle your responsibilities.
That is where this guide comes in. The stress management, wellness, and lifestyle tips outlined in this guide are designed to help every nurse – taking online nurse practitioner programs or not – improve their quality of life and manage their stress.
Everyday Tips to Manage Stress and Improve Wellness
These tips are designed to help everyone, even those who don’t feel like their work is all that stressful. It can help you as a nurse working full time. It can also help if you are working while completing online nurse practitioner programs for your future.
Rather than being tips to stop stress like it’s some beast you need to beat back and into submission, these tips are going to help you improve your health and wellbeing. The goal being that, when your physical and mental health are cared for, stress can be managed naturally and on a much healthier scale.
1. Eat Foods that Offer Slower Energy Release
Nurses either work regular hours, or they work in shifts. Regardless of what work environment you find yourself in, you must do yourself a favor and exchange unhealthy snacks for options that provide a slower energy release through the day. This isn’t difficult to do, either. The simplest way to consider it is to either cut down or eliminate excess salt, fat, and sugars from your diet – especially if they are refined or processed.
Eating healthy can be difficult for a busy nurse. No one is saying that it will be an easy switch, but it is also one that will provide you the biggest ongoing benefit. To start, try investing in healthy snacks instead of relying on what is in the vending machine. Nuts, dried fruits, protein bars – these are snacks that you can have throughout the day that will actually work to energize you without a crash. You can even save by buying them from bulk stores instead of your grocery store.
As for your meals, homemade is best. Homemade, however, is definitely a hassle – especially if you add in online nurse practitioner programs and education into the mix of your busy day.
In this instance, you may want to try prep meals. This can either be ordered to your door so that you can enjoy variety and healthy meals with minimal effort, or they can be done yourself to save big. If done yourself, invite some friends or family over to help and prepare your week in advance on one of your day’s off.
2. Try to Be Consistent with Your Sleep Routine
Sleep is another big one when it comes to improving your health so that you can manage and handle stressors throughout your day. Shift workers do have this harder than others. If you work 12 hour shifts at work at a hospital, then you are going to need to adjust your sleep space to include things like black-out curtains and other solutions to cancel out noise.
If you work in a clinic or otherwise have a nursing position that provides you with regular hours, then do yourself a favor and try to be consistent with your sleep routine. Try to keep up with this even on weekends or your days off. By being consistent, you can make your circadian rhythm work with you, not against you. Sure, you will be going to sleep early even on a weekend, but you’ll be more energized to enjoy the days of your weekend that much more.
You will also be better rested and capable at work, which will help patients, and help you.
3. Build a Support System
Your support system is going to be crucial, especially if you work in a role that frequently causes compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is unique amongst the types of stress that you can experience as a nurse or any other type of worker that deals directly with others when they are in tough situations. Empathy and compassion are two of your biggest assets as a nurse, for example, but at the same time those two assets mean that you feel it when you fail them, and that takes on its own trauma in your mind.
You deserve to have a support system that helps support you during these times, and no, that support system won’t just be your friends or family. It is also your co-workers, your fellow course mates if you are currently enrolled in any online nurse practitioner programs, and of course, those who can offer you professional help and care.
For those suffering from compassion fatigue know that there are even support groups (local and online) for you to join. Try to join a professionally managed one, however, as otherwise you may find yourself in a worse situation. Echo chambers can be very detrimental to your mental health and wellbeing, so you need positive environments and positive people to be there for you as your support system.
Tips to Help Stop Stress
For those who already feel like they are under the throes of stress, don’t worry. On top of the above tips, you can also use a few stress-busting tips to help you finally feel like you are free to start again.
It’s important to remember that stress has very physical symptoms. It isn’t just something you feel emotionally. In fact, like every intense emotion, there is always a physiological reaction. For stress it can be tension, it can be headaches, it can be stomach or heart issues.
These physiological issues can last a lot longer than whatever it was that was stressing you.
If you have tension in your muscles and feel constantly achy, for example, you are going to be more perceptible to stress. By getting a massage to ease that tension, you can physically remove stress from your body.
The tips here is to address the physical sensations of your stress, so that you can walk away from stressful situations without them leaving their marks on your body. You cannot stop yourself from getting stressed – it is a natural reaction. In small doses stress can even help you, but if you are stressed so often that you have physical symptoms, deal with those symptoms to help ease the pressure of stress in your life.
Long-Haul Tips to Help Reduce Your Stress and Improve Your Quality of Life
Using daily stress busters is a great way to handle stressful periods at work and to generally help improve your quality of life, but that fact is that if the type of work that you are doing isn’t right for you, then there is no amount of meditation or healthy eating you can do that will change that.
You know you want to be a nurse. This isn’t to say that you need to stop being a nurse, but instead that you need to find a career move that will allow you to continue to help people, in a way that helps you feel fulfilled.
The Case for Continuing Education
There are several reasons to push to continue your education and training as a nurse. Nursing is a very stressful job, yes, and doing the grunt work expected of CRAs, LNP, and even RNs can cause a lot of fatigue and strain on the mind and body. If you are absolutely content and happy doing the work you do, and don’t want more responsibility, then you are in a good place!
If you feel like you are outgrowing your position know that there is no amount of waiting that will stop that feeling. We all need change, even if it can be scary. Thankfully in nursing that change doesn’t have to be unknown. Online nurse practitioner programs make it easy to progress your career and become an APRN.
APRNs make around 6 figure salaries, and also have many great career options ahead of them. You can even work in unconventional places, allowing you to match your passion and your interest for an even better work/life balance.
Knowing Your Options as a Nurse
It is okay if you aren’t cut out for hospital work. Hospital work is very demanding, especially in recent times, and not everyone is going to be cut out for it. Forcing yourself is only going to over-extend yourself and push you into burnout before you know it.
Thankfully, there are many great options as a nurse, especially if you push through online nurse practitioner programs to become an APRN.
Hospitals are one of the biggest employer types for nurses. Even still, hospitals are facing a massive nursing shortage. You will likely work in shifts, and if you work in a big city hospital you are going to be challenged and kept busy throughout your day.
Not all hospitals are going to feel like they are in a constant state of chaos. Not every department is going to, either. You owe it to yourself to be honest with the type of work and the quality of life you want to lead, and then make arrangements to adjust your workday from there. This may mean progressing your career with online nurse practitioner programs to become an FNP, or it may mean transferring to a different unit or even hospital.
Clinics are a great place for nurses to work because it allows you to help people, without quite as much stress. Those who have gone and applied to online nurse practitioner programs can even open up their own clinic in certain cases, or can even write prescriptions without a medical doctor to sign off on it.
You can work in an emergency clinic, in a family clinic, or in a specialty clinic. You will often find a more balanced work experience, allowing you to continue to do great work while reducing the amount of strain on your body and health.
Nurses are needed in research. You can work either directly with medication development or help patients who are going through trials. You won’t be working with a high volume of patients, and can instead work to help bring in new, innovative treatments that help future generations.
Those with online nurse practitioner programs under their belt are perfectly suited to work as the school nurse. You will be there to help students with all aspects of their health and be critical to guiding them when they have health-related concerns.
If you want to make a big impact, become a nurse educator. These nurses take their experience and gain extra qualifications so that they can teach and train the next generation.
You can also work in policy, where research and lobbying can work to improving the quality-of-care nurses provide, as well as the support and care that nurses receive from their employers.
7. And More
You can work at events; in case any attendee gets hurt and needs care. You can work on movie sets as a nurse, supervising stunts and being there to provide essential first aid. You can work on research trips that have a team sent off anywhere in the world and who would benefit from having a doctor or nurse on board. There is nowhere that you cannot work. That is why for the sake of your health, wellbeing, and stress levels, it is imperative that you find the perfect place for you.