Pediatric nursing is a rewarding career, but it’s also a stressful one. No matter what type of nurse you are, you can expect long hours on your feet, time constraints to get work done and the emotional toll of watching patients endure illness and death.
With so many challenges on the job, stress and burnout affect 10-70 percent of nurses. This is why it’s incredibly important to learn how to deal with stress so that you can be the strong, supportive and successful healthcare worker you plan to be.
Whether you are a new pediatric nurse or are currently going to school to be one, here are ten tips for handling stress on the job.
1. Don’t take things personally.
One of the first tips for managing stress is this: Don’t take things personally. Your patients and their family members are under some of the worst stress of their lives, so it’s not uncommon for them to have angry outbursts.
This is especially true when parents have a sick child. Parents are supposed to protect their children from harm, and when they’re dealing with a chronic illness or disability, they’re often left feeling powerless and helpless. Sometimes, parents just need to vent and let out their frustrations.
Of course, you never want to put yourself in harm’s way. If a parent is intense, remove yourself from the situation, calm your nerves and explain the situation to your supervisor.
2. Practice good self-care.
Pediatric home health is tough work both physically and mentally. To combat this stress, it’s crucial that you take good care of yourself when you’re not at work. Going out drinking with friends and getting a few hours of sleep before your next shift can leave you exhausted and at risk for getting sick.
Here are some tips to ensure you properly care for your mind, body and spirit:
- Eat a balanced diet that consists of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, healthy fats and whole grains. Pack healthy snacks like granola bars and dried fruit to snack on in between shift changes.
- Get a full 8-9 hours of sleep every night. Sleep heals and repairs your body and prepares you for another productive day at work.
- Stay active. It’s recommended to get 30 minutes of exercise every day. You can break this up to make it easier. For instance, park your car in the back of the lot, take the stairs instead of the elevator and walk during your lunch breaks.
3. Enlist help from a trusted mentor.
While talking to friends and family is important, they probably won’t understand all of the challenges you face. This is why it’s helpful to have a mentor who does. You can lean on this individual for support on challenging days and take comfort in knowing they understand your role as a pediatric nurse.
4. Pursue your favorite hobbies and activities.
It’s important to have fun, relaxing activities to unwind to when you return home. If you carry all of your stress home with you, your body will always be in fight-or-flight mode. Make sure you have a few favorite hobbies you can do when you get home such as knitting, reading or playing an online game.
5. Stay organized.
Staying organized is incredibly important in the pediatric nursing field. Your shift can change quickly, your patient might be having a bad day or the family may be requesting something different. By keeping on top of things, you’ll be ready to adapt to whatever changes come your way – which is especially helpful when dealing with kids!
6. Exercise daily.
Exercise elevates your heart rate and produces feel-good chemicals in the brain that can lift your mood. Many pediatric nurses find that a walk, run or visit to the health club after their shift is one of the best medicines for stress and anxiety. Plus, staying active keeps you fit and healthy for long work shifts.
7. Follow stress-management techniques.
Exercise is a great stress-management technique, but there are other ones to try as well. Deep breathing is a constructive way to handle stress because you can use it in the moment. The extra oxygen you give your body relieves tension and provides a boost in feel-good endorphins. Other tools for stress-management are meditation, stretching and journaling.
8. Limit your time on social media.
We recommend limiting your time on social media – and the media in general. While it’s important to stay informed, spending too much time on social media can cause you to fixate on negative events and feel depressed about the things you can’t control. Get the information you need to stay up to date, but avoid unnecessary time on social media.
9. Seek professional help.
If, at any time, you feel that you’re having trouble managing the stress that comes with pediatric nursing, reach out for professional help. This is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of strength.
Just because you are in the medical field does not mean that things won’t get to you. The important thing is that you are honest about your feelings and seek professional help when it becomes too much. Talk therapy can teach you how to control your responses to stressful events.
10. Find a work environment you love.
Lastly, be sure to choose a work environment that you love. Pediatric nurses work in all types of environments, such as hospitals, clinics, or NICUs. If you’re not happy in your current environment, you may be happier going to your patients’ homes and providing them with personalized, in-home pediatric care services.
Join the Continuum Pediatric Nursing Team Today!
A career in pediatric nursing offers endless rewards, particularly because you get to work with children and their appreciative parents. To learn more about the pediatric nurse jobs available through Continuum Pediatric Nursing, contact us today.