Holistic Stress Management for Nurses

by | Sep 10, 2014 | 4 comments

I shared earlier in the week how coming back from a 10 day break can be perceived as overwhelmingly stressful. Top that with being a full-time nurse, wife, friend and community member- boy… the stress can be debilitating. So much so that we can stuck in procrastination paralysis- not knowing where to start or what to do first.

I have even heard of nurses taking work with them while they go on vacation, just so that they do not have to come back to the laundry list of to-do tasks that they missed while away.

This is nuts. We all need to unplug once in awhile and take a break from it all. So how can we come back from an extended vacation without incurring too much stress?

[Tweet “Here are 3 holistic stress management tips for nurses. “]

  1. Do one thing at a time. If you find yourself coming back from an extended break, the information overload can be exhausting. “How will I get through all of this email?” you may wonder. It’s OK. We all have too much information coming at us on a daily basis. Take a deep breath. Let it out. And as you get back into your task list, do one thing at a time.
  2. Drink plenty of water. When the stakes are high and the concentration level is needed at its all-time best- we can do our part to stay focused. The brain needs water, especially to stay on task. If you are a busy nurse with lots to get done, make sure you drink water consistently and constantly throughout your day.
  3. Go with the flow of life. As nurses, we may find ourselves wanting to force the outcome or control the situations we find ourselves in. We like to ‘fix’ things. It’s just our nature. Yet sometimes pushing against the current of life does more harm than good. Take a step back and observe things from the bigger picture. What changes, challenges or circumstances have you found yourself in that are stressing you out? Can you observe them from another angle? What can you learn and how can you grow by going with the flow of life?

Stress management in nursing is key to a successful nursing career. What other tips would you add to this stress reduction list for nurses? Leave a comment below and enjoy your health today.



  1. Mary Elaine Kiener

    Elizabeth – great article……[especially good for me to remember and practice in about 10 days when I return from my own time away–especially since my personal experience of extended travel is how transformative it is for me……so it’s more than simply “coming home to the ‘same ol’ same ol’ thing”……]

    #3–how true (sadly) that we nurses (and other caregivers) often try to regain a personal “sense of control” by going into “fix-it overdrive”……which then backfires by adding even more stress into the system…..

    Your #3 also reminds me of a recent post in the Harvard Business Review by Peter Bregman => http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/09/how-to-spend-your-first-day-after-a-vacation/

    • Elizabeth Scala

      Hi Mary Elaine,

      Thank you for the feedback. I appreciate hearing from your perspective that I am not alone in the challenges that happen when coming back from extended break. And I totally understand and agree that many times coming back is coming back to growth, which also requires change and gentle kindness.

      I will check out the article you shared; thanks for posting it here. Enjoy your time away.


  2. Marti Hansen

    Thank you for the thought provoking article. I am in the middle of a five day “vacation” from work. I have been working extra shifts and extra hours to help the unit out during a difficult time. As I walked out of the hospital after working my last night, I was totally exhausted and could only think of putting one foot in front of the other to get to my car. I had told my co-workers NOT to call me during these five days as I had some fun things planned and needed the rest. Wouldn’t you know….they called the following day asking me to come in! I was sleeping but my husband told them no. He was aware of my wishes and exhaustion. I am getting some much needed R and R and wonder what I will face when I go back from this short “vacation.” I already practice #1 having learned that is the only way to make it through a difficult or busy situation. I am an avid water drinker so that’s already a given for me. It is #3 that is going to be the one I will need to concentrate on and make an effort to step back, prioritize and organize my dutiies and time. The challenge as already mentioned is going to be keeping the stress levels down and manageable. As for today, I am not going to worry about it until the time comes! After all, it’s my day off 🙂

    • Elizabeth Scala

      So glad that you are saying ‘no’ to others and ‘yes’ to yourself, Marti. It is challenging to do, but with practice becomes easier over time. Enjoy the time off and thank you for taking the time to comment from your perspectives and insights on the blog. I always love reading what you are up to! Elizabeth



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