How to Handle Stress in a Nursing Job

From nursing assistants to RN’s, nurses handle a lot on the job

Nurses are heroes of the healthcare system. Whether you are a home health aide, nursing assistant, practical nurse, or an RN, you work hard to provide care and comfort to your patients. Your job is not easy. You can face heavy workloads, long hours, patient emergencies, and physically demanding tasks, all of which can contribute to stress on the job. Stress and burn-out are two major factors that affect nurses’ careers. To all the nurses out there, take some time to read these stress-relieving tips.

Stress Relief Tips for Nurses

1. Try to get organized

Getting yourself organized is one way to combat stress. Try coming into work 10-15 minutes early in order to review what patients you will be caring for and what their needs are. Take this time to organize your supplies and equipment. Carry a small notebook with you to jot down things you need to remember throughout your shift. Think of what you can do to save trips to the supply closet. During your breaks, take stock of what you need to do next. Think about how to best group your patient visits in a smart way and attend to the highest priorities first. Taking a few minutes to figure out how to be efficient and organized can help to save time in the long run.

2. Ask for advice

If you are new to the job, there are many people on your team who might have great advice on how to accomplish your work successfully. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You may even find that you develop friendships or mentors by asking for advice and respecting the opinions of others. People are usually flattered when you ask for advice and may be happy to share some tips with you.

3. Work on better communications

Many times, stressful situations arise because of poor communication. The previous nursing assistant may not have informed the next nursing assistant about what needed to be done. Or a head nurse may not have communicated to the practical nurse that a patient needed a certain service before he or she left for break. While you can’t control what other people do, you can do your best to communicate well with others. Ask questions at the start of your shift. Document everything you do. Keep the others on your team informed of what you have done and what needs to be done. If you cannot keep up with the workload, tell your head nurse rather than simply leaving things unfinished. Good communications can truly improve your work days.

4. Stay positive

Staying positive is easy to say, but it can be harder to do. But it is still good advice to remember. Try to stay positive by focusing on the good parts of your day, and trying to let the negative parts roll off you. You might get positive vibes by working with a friendly patient, sharing something humorous with a co-worker, or simply smiling at people as you walk through the hall. Try to associate with co-workers who have a positive and supportive attitude, and avoid those who do not. Don’t let yourself get dragged down by gossiping. Don’t engage in any negative talk, competition, or down-putting behavior toward your fellow nurses.

5. Learn deep breathing for times of stress

One of the best stress reducers is to give your body the oxygen it needs to feel calmer. Practice slow deep breaths when you are not stressed, and then in times of stress, stop for a minute to use this technique. It is best to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.

6. Take care of yourself during and after work

Stress can take a psychological and physical toll. Even if you are a brand new nursing assistant full of energy and enthusiasm, it’s a good idea to start of pattern of taking care of yourself. During work, be sure to take your breaks. Don’t work through them in an effort to catch up. Your breaks are meant to give you time to relax and rejuvenate for the rest of your shift. Use them to relax, stretch your muscles, maybe step outside for some fresh air. Also, make sure you eat and drink properly during your shift so you don’t get dehydrated. At home, make sure you take care of yourself by getting adequate rest, exercise, and nutrition. Make sure to save some time for dedicated “you” time.

7. Talk it out

Try to find a friend, co-worker, or family member whom you trust. If you are having a problem at work, sometimes it helps to talk about it with someone who can offer a different perspective and help you see the problem in a better light. If stress, anxiety, or depression are taking over your life, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Taking care of yourself is a top priority!

We hope these tips are helpful as you pursue your nursing career. Remember, nurses may be heroes, but they do not have to be superheroes! Take care of yourself and use these tips to help you reduce your stress on the job. You deserve to be good to yourself.


These tips are a service of the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health. The Salter School of Nursing is so proud of our students, and wishes them the best as they begin their new careers. If you are interested in enrolling in nursing school, contact us online.