Healthy Nurse and Stress: The Big 3

 In Cardiovascular Health
Stress elevates blood chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline, raises blood pressure, affects blood clotting & may contribute to unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, and excess food and alcohol intake.


  1. Work-life balance – the intrusion of work demands conflicts with home and social relationships. Most workplaces are inflexible when it comes to this balance. You will have to control the amount of intrusion into this space, unless you work in an environment where you are encouraged to bring your children and pets along with you. Don’t feel obligated to pick up extra shifts. No business has folded because you did not pick up the extra time. Say “no” once in a while to extra assignments that rob from family and social contacts.
  2. Relationships– women are disproportionately torn between work relationships, caring for elders and children, often sacrificing “me time” for the sake of others.
  3. Technology – our mobile phones leave us vulnerable to attack 24 hours/day. For a lot of us the last task of the day involves checking emails before going to sleep.

Aim for small changes at first

  • Exercise – maybe going to the gym isn’t an option. Get up from the desk at least twice a day and walk. Even 10 minutes daily at a brisk pace with your mind unoccupied is enough to refresh and renew.
  • Sleep – turn the cell phone off 1 hour before bedtime and practice mindful meditation. There are some good Apps for this if you can’t bring yourself to turn the cell phone off. Some focus on breathing for 5 minutes but there are many others to help you get in the zone to relax at bedtime. Plan for 7-8 hours of sleep.
  • Seek out happiness – this one is important because we are not focused on joy and happiness when we are stressed. Take time to enjoy nature, join a group that enjoys the same things as you do.
  • Social support – make an appointment on your calendar to have a play date with your significant other or a best friend. Form a group to socialize with on an ongoing basis- even if it is just for a weekly bike ride, companionable walk or meditation. Volunteer for a good cause together.

Rebecca Smith, MSN, RN, APN and the Healthy Nurse Healthy New Jersey Team

24/7 Crisis Hotline for Impaired Nurses - 1-800-662-0108