Coping methods

Nursing takes emotional toll

Posted: Sunday, May 07, 2006

John Evanovich, a Boston-area psychiatrist who deals with workplace stress, says today's nurses must address the potential for stress within their working environment.

"A lot of people say, 'Well, that's just part of the job,'" says Evanovich. "That may be true, but what's also true is that nurses need to deal with 'that part of the job.' They need to confront the sadness and difficulties they face at work."

Evanovich suggests four ways to deal with stress on the job:

1. Face the facts: Don't run from the circumstances you see patients dealing with. While it's understandable to want to separate yourself from your patients, if you choose to turn off all emotions, you may be a ticking time bomb.

2. Find an outlet: Take up a hobby or activity to help you wind down from a day - or night - on the job. Evanovich recommends exercise as the first outlet to deal with stress. "If you run on a daily basis, you're not only doing your body a favor, but you're allowing the stresses of the week to escape," Evanovich says.

3. Build a support network: One of the best ways to deal with your feelings is to discuss your thoughts with people who understand what you're going through. Wellington says she relied heavily on co-workers to help her deal with problems. "One of the things I miss most about working is the time I spent with other nurses," Wellington says. "You develop a sense of humor about a lot of things, and you all know so much about what happens at a hospital. It's really one of the better parts of the job."

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