Stress can have drastic consequences for both the physical and mental wellbeing of agency nurses.
Equally, it can impact the attendance and retention of nursing staff, having an adverse affect on the standard of care and overall job satisfaction. Whilst nurses have a duty of care to their patients, it’s important to equally prioritise their own wellbeing.
We’ve spoken before about fatigue in agency nursing, and whilst the two issues are by no means mutually exclusive, they can both manifest in many different circumstances.
Stress is incredibly difficult to define – it affects everyone differently, and its onset can be sudden, or slowly over time. It’s worth nothing that there are many external factors out of our control, but we’ll explore some of the things you can personally do to recognise and combat stress in your agency nursing job.
How to deal with stress?
Working as an agency nurse is a highly rewarding career, but we all know that agency nurses are faced with difficult decisions and demanding environments every single day. All nursing specialisms, from A&E Nurses to ICU Nurses, will experience some kind of stress in their working life.
Understanding how you respond to stressful situations is the first step. You may experience a mixture of physical, mental and emotional responses. Physical responses can include aches and pains, nail biting, teeth grinding, jaw clenching and rapid heart rate. Mental and emotional responses can manifest as low self-esteem, poor concentration and irritability, amongst many other reactions.
Identifying that you’re feeling stressed does not mean that you’re weak or that you aren’t coping. We’ve listed some of areas that you can focus on;
- Assess your work life balance. This can be particularly difficult for nurses, but it’s important to keep an eye on how much down time you’re getting, away from your work environment.
- Recharge and relax. Whether you like to listen to podcasts, watch some telly or treat yourself to a nourishing meal, make sure you use your rest time to recuperate from work.
- Don’t repeat self-destructive behaviours. It’s easy to lean on unhealthy habits to carry on through stressful time, like excessive caffeine consumption, alcohol or eating badly. Identifying these and rectifying them will go a long way to alleviate stress.
- Build a support network. Within the agency nursing community, there are many resources and spaces for agency nurses to seek support. Try talking to a friend, colleague or family member if you’re feeling under pressure.
- Take care of your mind and body through meditation, gentle exercise or whatever works best for you.
Shift your mindset
- Be mindful of unhealthy thinking patterns. Stress can cause poor self-esteem and low moods, which can easily spiral into repeated behaviours that are neither healthy or constructive.
- Be realistic with yourself. If you’re feeling stressed, set yourself small goals towards improving your mindset.
- Learn to know which things you can and cannot control. Examine the things you do have control over, and how you prepare for or react to circumstances outside of your control.
- Invest your energy wisely. You’ve only got limited emotional resources, so try to not sweat the small stuff.
- Maintain a sense of proportion. Stress can be utterly all consuming, especially in the high-pressure environment of an agency nursing assignment. Perhaps think of a time that you’ve successfully overcome a stressful situation to remind yourself that you can do it.
Whether you’re an RGN, HCA or a District Nurse, the expert Mayday Healthcare recruitment team are available to advise you on the next step in your career. If you’re looking for a for a new agency nurse job, get in touch with Mayday Healthcare today.