Secrets to Stress Reduction: 3 Strategies for Nurses

by | Jul 20, 2015 | 4 comments

Prevent Nurse Burnout: 3 Secrets to Stress Reduction #nursingfromwithinIt’s fascinating to me that what we focus on, expands. I’m doing this summer training on list building (email list) and I have found that when I focus on building my list, it grows more quickly!

What does this have to do with stress reduction and busy nurses? Well, nothing really- LOL. But the concept of what we focus on and give energy to is where I’d like to start out today. I am going to share with you three tips for reducing stress as a busy nurse, but before I do, I want to speak to this topic of burnout in nursing.

I’ve shared this here before, but what we focus on grows. (Duh, I just shared it above, right?) My point is, when we talk about preventing nurse burnout and holistic self-care, often the focus of our attention is on the problem. Things like:

  • I don’t have time for me.
  • I have no energy when I get home from work.
  • There’s no room in my schedule for fun.
  • All I do is work.

When we look at the above statements, they are full of negative energy. And so, if what we give attention to gets stronger, than we are placing our attention… in the wrong space!

We need to shift our focus and pay attention to the things that are going well. The good we do have in our lives. The way we feel energized and uplifted by our activities, hobbies, and routines.

So let’s make a commitment today to start looking at the bright side of self-care and nurse burnout prevention. And let’s do it with these three action steps.

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  1. Stress Reduction: 3 Tips to Prevent Nurse Burnout #nursingfromwithinUtilize Your Work Day to Reduce Stress. So why does stress reduction have to start outside of the job? Especially if when you find yourself coming home from a long shift, the last thing you want to do is engage in some type of class, training, or routine. I know, for me, when I am home I like to be tucked in and settled. Going back out to reduce my stress would just make me do the opposite! But who’s to say stress reduction has to always be done outside of work?! How come we can’t find micro-moments of time during our day to relieve tension? Guess what, we can! Every time you enter a patient’s room, you can ground your feet into the floor and stop. You can take five seconds to feel your physical body and take a deep, slow breath in and out of your nose. There- you did it! Instant stress reduction.
  2. Gather Like-Minded Colleagues. We’re always aware of the ‘negative Nancy nurse’ at work. You know the one… she gets us down before we’ve even started our shift with her constant complaining and offhand gossip. Instead of focusing on these types of colleagues (remember, what you think about you bring about), look for like-minded professionals who want to enjoy their jobs as much as you do. Gravitate towards these folks. Ask them to lunch. Go for a walk. Talk about non-nursing things. Sometimes socialization (that is upbeat and positive) can cure the heavy feelings of nurse burnout and compassion fatigue.
  3. Figure Out What You Enjoy Most. I know, for me, I really enjoy mindful activities. Things like practicing Yoga, offering Reiki, and sitting in meditation are fun for me. Maybe because I practice holistic nursing and find mind-body-spirit works best. Maybe because I love to flow in balance. Who knows. And that doesn’t even really matter. For you, you’ve got to find out what you enjoy the most. Because what you enjoy you’re more likely to do. If you hate to sweat, then telling yourself you’re going to go jogging in the middle of a humid summer day just won’t happen. And then you’ll feel guilty and even more stressed out… for not doing it! So figure out what you love and engage in that self-care practice as a way to reduce your stress and prevent burnout.

I’d love to hear from the group! What stress reduction secrets can you share? Add to this list so we can all learn from each other. Thanks for reading and enjoy the day.

Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RNAbout the Author: As a speaker, workshop facilitator, and Reiki Master, Elizabeth partners with hospitals, organizations, associations, and nursing groups to help transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the host of the Your Next Shift Workshop, Elizabeth guidesĀ nurses and nursing studentsĀ to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver.


  1. maureenpowers

    Enjoyed reviewing info on Stress reduction. Stress management is one of my important tools to maintain health. I share stress reduction techniques including the ones you suggest in this article. Just the other day I was in a clinic meeting about expected behaviors of staff towards patients and other staff. I share the importance of staff having stress management skills in relationship to caring skills. Many staff thanked me for my input

    • Elizabeth

      Lovely addition, Maureen. Thank you for sharing your technique with myself and the readers. I appreciate it!

  2. Patricia Bulkley

    I work on a Brain Injury Unit in a rehabilitation hospital and the stress level there can get pretty high. One morning while I was walking through the Patient Dining Room, I encountered a few coworkers who were dreading the beginning of the day and I said something funny which caused them to laugh. I then in turn remembered a stress reliever is belly laughing. I started doing an exaggerated deep belly laugh and it got us all really whooping it up for a few minutes. These few moments made us all walk out onto the unit with smiles and got the day started off on a light note. I really enjoyed your stress relieving tips. Thank you.

    • Elizabeth

      WOW! Great job, Patricia. Thanks for sharing your experience and how you handled the stress on your unit. I love it. Thank you for the comment. Enjoy the day.



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