In the face of unprecedented challenges, even those equipped with skills and knowledge often fail. The same can be said for the healthcare industry, where every day is unlike yesterday.
Ensuring patient care while keeping up with the staff’s duty is nothing less than a hurdle for nurses.
Regardless of challenges, nurses are expected to step up to their role to achieve outcomes that meet patients’ and care facility needs.
While we talk about the nurse’s demanding role, let’s discuss the hurdles nurses face daily.
The global health crisis deemed nurses, heroes, as they risked their lives to ensure every sick individual’s well-being.
It was the tip of the iceberg, a glimpse of what it takes to meet the care standards besides ensuring that the patient’s health remains uncompromised.
Four Ways Nurses Cope with Everyday Challenges at the Hospital
A nurse never really clocks out even after their shift ends. That is so because nurses are required to spend hours filing paperwork and accurately documenting information to ensure the next shift of healthcare providers seamlessly resume care.
The added duties lead to emotional strain, making it difficult for nurses to separate professional from everyday life.
In the long run, the psychological burden results in mental disorders that gradually impact overall well-being if not addressed timely.
Patients’ needs vary; for instance, a patient with stage 4 bedsores might sometimes awaken in an agitated state that needs immediate attention.
The unpredictability of a patient’s condition keeps nurses on their feet mostly, eventually leading to physical stress.
Since every move is under rigid scrutiny by administrators, colleagues, and patients, it becomes overwhelming for nurses to strike a balance between ensuring their own and, side by side, the patient’s health.
As mentioned earlier, the failure to do so leads to stress or burnout in nurses, which also reflects professionally in the form of medical errors, lack of patient care, and poor health outcomes.
With proper coping mechanisms, nurses can overcome challenges. What are those ways? A few are mentioned as such
Sleep is the antidote to relieving stress which is crucial for the nurse’s safety, health, and patient’s health.
Irregular shift timings and a heavy workload are the common factors tied to sleep disturbances that decline mental functioning and physical ability during work.
The key to efficiently working for long hours is concentration and productivity, which depletes with the lack of sleep from time to time.
To prevent this, it is recommended that nurses get at least seven hours of sleep to help improve memory and focus.
Sleep deprivation has emotional implications, with anger and irritability being the most common signs. A good relationship with the patient distinguishes an exceptional nurse from the rest.
So, when nurses experience a lack of sleep with negative emotions running the course of their mood, it impacts their relationship with patients.
Another way to prevent that is by taking frequent rest breaks, especially during demanding work, and reducing the shift lengths to eight or ten hours.
Additionally, reducing caffeine intake and avoiding heavy food before bedtime help gets adequate sleep.
Dealing with chronic illnesses and patient death regularly eventually catches up with the nurse’s psychological well-being.
The only way to detach is to ask for help or seek support. That is so because support from employers and colleagues helps nurses recognize that they are not the only ones struggling.
Having someone to care for you goes a long way in ensuring stable mental health. Besides work support, reconnecting with family and friends is also effective in relaxing and destressing.
As a nurse, you can ask family members to take over responsibilities during the hectic routine.
In circumstances where nurses are emotionally incapable of coping with the high-stress environment, taking time to talk with a mental health professional is the lifeline to improve well-being.
It is also the responsibility of organizations to take appropriate measures that reduce the risk of nurses developing occupational burnout and other disorders.
Nurses have a demanding role that requires physical vigor and mental clarity to provide high-quality patient care and make critical decisions when the time comes.
Amidst all the responsibilities, nurses have to ensure they don’t fall short of their role; that is why participating in physical activity is essential because it improves cognitive function.
While nurses support patients to make lifestyle behavior changes, results are only achieved when nurses themselves lead by example.
Exercise helps maintain physical stamina and prevents conditions like heart disease, anxiety, and depression.
Additionally, nurses who participate in physical activity also have fewer sick absences, which adds to better recruitment retention.
Nurses might inquire about which specific exercise helps achieve the said health benefits, but there is no definitive answer.
However, aerobic exercise is recommended throughout the week, with muscle strengthening exercises on alternate days.
A few examples of aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming, whereas strengthening exercises include sit-ups, lifting weights, and push-ups.
A nurse’s duty primarily involves staying on their feet, mostly helping peers or filing paperwork. All these responsibilities eventually take a toll on their health, primarily if a healthy diet is not maintained.
Lack of rest, poor nutrition, and insufficient water contribute to adverse health effects.
Nurses must focus on nurturing good eating habits to increase energy, promote physical well-being and reduce stress.
One way nurses can gradually incorporate healthy eating is by choosing a nutritional snack that keeps them away from junk food and helps them stay healthy.
Although a sweet treat is tempting, a healthy snack keeps a nurse on their feet throughout the day.
Aside from healthy snacks, nurses can also prepare meals rich in nutrients like carbohydrates and protein. Since a nurse must stay active to perform their duties well, adding whole grains or fruits to the diet increases energy.
Protein is also a great source of increasing concentration which is critical for a nurse’s success. Try incorporating fish, eggs, and spinach since they have a fair amount of protein.
There is no denying that while nursing is a rewarding profession, it has various challenges that eventually take a physical and psychological toll on nurses. Hospitals and long-term care facilities can’t function without nurses.
That being said, nurses must be provided support to ensure they don’t fall short of their role.
One way of doing that is by teaching stress management techniques that improve patient outcomes and prevents medical errors. Nurses with lower stress levels professionally perform well and maintain emotional composure. With the help of the mentioned tips, nurses can overcome challenges and become exceptional care providers.