10 Stress Management Tips for Nurses

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According to The American Institute of Stress, 83% of workers in the United States experience job-related stress. In a health care environment, the effects of stress on nurses can lead to decreased patient satisfaction, poor patient outcomes and increased mortality rates. To prevent nurse burnout, nurses and health care managers should take steps to ensure a healthy and supportive work environment.

To learn more, check out the infographic below created by University of North Dakota’s Master of Science in Nursing program.

How nurses and leaders can work together to better manage nurse stress.

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The Impact of Stress

While most American businesses focus on increasing profit, few realize that the annual cost of workplace stress is nearly $300 billion.

Stress in the Workplace

Stress causes 1 million workers to miss work each day. What’s more, surveys indicate 64% of U.S. workers are ready to quit their job due to stress, and 54% say work stress negatively affects their home lives. The long-term health effects can include depression and death. The financial impact of depression treatment and health care costs are in the billions.

Both men and women typically handle stress by either consuming more caffeine, smoking or exercising more frequently. Unfortunately, studies show 34% of workers don’t feel comfortable reporting stress because they think it will either be viewed as indifference, weakness or could affect their promotion opportunities.

From an employer perspective, studies indicate companies spend roughly 75% of a worker’s annual salary covering lost productivity or replacing workers. In health care, the annual cost of nurse burnout is $9 billion for hospitals and $14 billion for the health care system overall.

Stress Among Nurses

A 2018 survey of over 900 nurses found that 91% of nurses felt their hospitals were understaffed. 62% polled felt regularly burned out and believed the nursing shortage negatively impacted care quality. 54% said their workload negatively impacted their work, while 49% had considered leaving nursing in the past two years.

Bullying and Harassment

Nearly 40% of nurses have experienced bullying or harassment in the workplace from other nurses, patients, physicians or administrators. Only 29% of nurses feel respected by administrators.

Sources of Nurse Stress

There are several factors that drive stress among nurses. These include overtime work, heavy workload, poor work-life balance and fear of infecting family and loved ones during a pandemic.

10 Tips on Stress Management for Nurses

Nurses and leaders share responsibility in managing workplace stress and ensuring nurses receive the care they need.

How Nurses Can Manage Stress in the Workplace

One way nurses can lower stress is to use aromatherapy with substances like lavender oil. Another key tactic is to eat healthy, which can involve limiting caffeine, nicotine and processed foods to boost the immune system. Staying hydrated can also be important. A good rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces before a 12-hour shift.

Additionally, engaging in recreational activities such as working on puzzles or playing games can help reset the mind. It can also be vital to take 10 minutes out of the day to meditate in order to refocus and adjust perspective. Finally, getting a full night’s sleep or sneaking in a mid-shift nap on the night shift can improve concentration and reduce impulsivity.

How Health Care Managers and Administrators Can Support Nurses

Health care managers and administrators can provide the type of support nurses need by promoting a positive work culture through team outings and team-building activities. They can also keep the nurses’ break room stocked with nutritious food, such as nuts and fruit. Additionally, they can automate repetitive tasks, such as entering medical information or reminder calls to reduce nurses’ workload. Finally, they can take steps to foster resilience in nurses, such as engaging nurses in open dialogue regarding the exchange of ideas or the teaching of new skills.

How Resilience and Technology Can Reduce Nurse Stress and Burnout

Health care leaders should seek to build resilience among their staff members to help reduce stress and prevent burnout. Technology can also play a critical role in improving processes, increasing efficiency, and lightening nurses’ workloads.

The Importance of Building Resilience

According to the Joint Commission, resilience involves fostering resources to combat workplace challenges. Building resilience in health care workers can help increase employee retention, reduce staff turnover and performance problems and increase patient satisfaction.

Nurse leaders should also know the factors that contribute to building resilience. These include feeling valued professionally; team, colleague and organizational support; the use of debriefings; and empowerment.

How Technology Can Relieve Nurse Stress

There are several technological advances in health care that can make nurses’ jobs less stressful. These include the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for administrative and repetitive tasks, utilizing predictive and prescriptive analytics and improved use of electronic health records (EHR)

Bringing Better Health to Nurses

Self-care is not optional in the nursing profession. Nurses can only care for patients if they’ve taken steps to take care for themselves.



American Holistic Nurses Association, Holistic Nursing Self-Care Strategies

The American Institute of Stress, 42 Worrying Workplace Stress Statistics

Everyday Health, The Ultimate Diet Plan for a Happier, Less-Stressed You

HealthcareDive, Burnout Hurts Nurses’ Ability to Meet Profession’s Demands

Healthcare IT News, To Fight Nurse Burnout, EHRs Must Use AI, Reflect RN-Specific Workflows

Healthline, 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation

The Joint Commission, Quick Safety Issue 50; Developing Resilience to Combat Nurse Burnout

Medical Xpress, Aromatherapy May Reduce Nurses’ Stress, Researcher Suggests

Psychology Today, 5 Ways Video Games Can Help With Stress and Mindfulness

RN Network, RNetwork 2018 Portrait of a Modern Nurse Survey

ScienceDirect, Exploring Nurses’ Work-Related Stress In an Acute Care Hospital in KSA

Thrive Global, 5 Ways to Manage Stress at Your Healthcare Workplace

Psychology Today, 9 Interesting Ways Napping Can Make Your Life Better