Long Nights, Early Mornings: Ways to Manage Stress as an ER Nurse

Working as an emergency room nurse comes with many rewards but can also take a tremendous physical and mental toll. It is no secret that ER Nurses are real-life superheroes, but the stresses they face on a day-to-day basis are at times inconceivable. While working long hours, they have to work at a breakneck pace while thinking critically in high-pressure situations, witnessing horrific injuries, illnesses, and even death. When you take a step back and look at how much responsibility falls onto an ER nurse, it makes complete sense that they are the most likely to burn out compared to other healthcare professions.

Nurses spend more time helping others instead of helping themselves. If you are one of the brave ones who choose nursing as a career path, it is crucial to understand how to combat the stresses of the job in a healthy fashion. Not only will limiting stress help you feel better mentally, but it will help improve your performance in the hospital. Keep reading to discover new ways to cope with the craziness of the ER.

Learn to Meditate

One of the best ways to center yourself before a shift and prepare for everything that is about to happen is through meditation. Picking up a meditation practice teaches you to focus on the present moment, reduce negative emotions, and increase patience. Spending just a few minutes each day focusing on the breath can drastically reduce stress and anxiety. Once you develop a strong meditation practice, you can use what you learned during high-pressure situations at work.

Find a Hobby

Working in the ER is always going to be stressful. There is nothing you can do about that. What you don’t want to do is bring that stress home with you. It is best to find a healthy, sustainable hobby that allows you to escape for a little while and unplug. A good hobby can be anything that brings you happiness. The options are endless, from outdoor activities like hiking or fishing to competing in sports or playing an instrument.

Eat A Clean Diet

It is true what they say: you are what you eat. If you are filling your body with junk, odds are you won’t feel so great, and that will carry over into the ER. Consider eating a healthy snack while you are on the job. This could be anything from fresh fruit to veggies or nuts.

According to WebMD, certain foods can help increase serotonin levels and reduce stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. An overall healthy diet can also help alleviate stress by lowering blood pressure and supporting the immune system.

Start a Workout Routine

Working out is an essential aspect of improving your physical health and overall well-being. In addition, physical activity is directly correlated with stress reduction. Exercising increases your brain’s ability to produce feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. Endorphins help your body combat stress and work through the fight or flight response during intense situations in the ER.

Exercises for Beginners

Some of the best exercises to ward off stress include yoga, walking, weight lifting, and pilates. However, any kind of physical activity that brings you joy can significantly relieve the stresses of working as an ER nurse.

Develop a Pre-Shift Ritual

Having a daily ritual you perform before each shift can not only be great for time management but also help center your being and prepare you for the chaos of the ER. Your ritual could be anything from practicing meditation to reciting a prayer or even listening to your favorite song. The idea is to calm your mind and your body in a way that mitigates your stress and narrows down your focus.

Learning to Cope One Day at a Time

While you can’t turn the ER into a stress-free sanctuary, you can take the necessary precautions to reduce the toll it takes on your body. If you feel like you’re about to burn out from the stresses of the ER, consider these tips to improve your overall well-being.