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Effective Strategies in Reducing Stress in the Workplace

Occupational stress is a major concern in the workplace due to its impact on the workers and the organization. Studies have been conducted on the effects of occupational stress and results indicate that there is a relationship between stress, employee health, and overall work performance.

In the workplace, nurses may be subjected to negative stressors like excessive overtime, increased workload, poor work supervision, uncomfortable work environment, and poor relationship with co-workers. For example, a clinical supervisor may be asked to handle an extra class for a colleague on indefinite leave. Consequently, this necessitates a transition period as she adjusts to her new students. The extra workload also means that she will have extended work hours because her scope of responsibility increased.

Whether the source of stress is physical or social, it has a high impact on nurses' health and work performance. And on the personal level, nurses need to take care of themselves by instituting measures to reduce work-related stress. Here's how:

  • Identify the source of stress. Is it the excessive overtime? Do you have a poor relationship with the other nurses in the unit? Is it the high demands of your new job as a clinical instructor? First, you need to identify what stresses you in the workplace before you can effectively deal with it.
  • Improve your diet. Eat small meals of healthy amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats evenly spaced out during the day so that you will be able to maintain your energy levels at work. Also, remember to consume lots of fluids to keep you fresh and nourished through the grueling hours spent at work.
  • Exercise. Exercise is one of the most effective mood-lifting strategies out there. Stretch each limb for 15 seconds to improve circulation and relax yourself when you feel stressed out. Getting up from the nursing station or taking a short power walk during breaks will also help you recharge and disconnect yourself briefly from a stressful work environment.
  • Be assertive. If you have a hard time dealing with your workload because you can't cope with the excessive overtime, it is time to communicate with your supervisor regarding your concerns. In doing so, be assertive but stay positive and focus on the specifics. If your problem is the excessive overtime, perhaps you can suggest one or two ways on how to reduce overtime use.
  • Build working relationships. If you have a poor relationship with your fellow nurses, try making that extra effort to socialize with them. You can make use of a lunch hour or breaks to give and receive feedbacks on different matters and possibly enhance working relationships. Remember, communicating with others effectively is a surefire way to vent out your feelings and reduce occupational stress.
  • Develop coping strategies. When your job as a nurse makes you feel like the world is closing in on you, learn to develop personal coping strategies. Coping strategies may include calling a friend during breaks, organizing your tasks, maintaining a work journal, or even praising yourself for a job well done. Simple as they are, these effective coping strategies are extremely useful in reducing stress and anxiety at work.

High levels of occupational stress greatly affects nurses' overall health and productivity at work. In order to reduce work-related stress, sustained commitment is required not only from the organization but from the individual workers as well.

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