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How Nurses Can Regain Some Calm

How Nurses Can Regain Some Calm

Todd Wheeler

July 02, 2008

One third of Americans are stressed out. They live with extreme stress as a part of their daily lives, and according to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), New York, nearly half of all Americans believe their stress has increased during the past five years.

As a nurse, you certainly feel the pinch — and probably deal with quite a bit of stress day in and day out. Indeed, with the ongoing nursing shortage, you are likely to be overworked and stretched to the limit. In addition, your job presents inherent hazards and challenges; it is physically challenging, emotionally challenging and intellectually challenging.

You routinely deal with your own pains, as your body hurts from lifting and maneuvering equipment and patients who are often twice your size. You have to keep up on the latest drugs and dosages, in addition to the latest medical methodologies, and, perhaps the hardest of all, your heart aches from bearing witness to the grief of many families.

To top it off, life goes on outside of the hospital or clinic. Like many others, you juggle work and home responsibilities and often find the 24-hour day woefully short. You work an 8-hour day at home with kids, family, household responsibilities and THEN you come in for your 12-hour shift! So you find yourself commiserating with the one-third of employed adults who have difficulty managing work and family responsibilities and with the 35 percent who suffer because their jobs interfere with their family or personal time.

Don’t Deny It

Although stress has become a common ailment in our go-go culture, you can no longer simply ignore it. Consider the following – stress is often linked to health problems such as hypertension, anxiety, depression, insomnia and obesity. In addition, stress contributes to poor relationships, broken families and severed friendships.

“Stress in America continues to escalate and is affecting every aspect of peoples’ lives — from work to personal relationships to sleep patterns and eating habits, as well as their health,” says psychologist Russ Newman, PhD, APA executive director for professional practice. "We know that stress is a fact of life and some stress can have a positive impact, however, the high stress levels that many Americans report experiencing can have long-term health consequences, ranging from fatigue to obesity and heart disease.”

And, finally, stress can lead to decreased productivity and even job loss, according to the APA. More specifically, studies have illustrated a link between employee stress and decreased quality of care delivered by health care providers.

As a matter of fact, according to a report published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, the frequency of medication errors declined by 50% after employee stress prevention activities were implemented in a 700-bed hospital. In a second study, there was a 70% reduction in malpractice claims in 22 hospitals that implemented stress prevention activities.

Next: Coping With Stress >>

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