Nursing can be a stressful career, even for those who have been in the business for more than 20 years. Nursing is hard, no matter which way you slice it (extra thanks to COVID!). But being a new nurse? Sometimes it feels like there isn’t anything more stressful than just being new. I’ve been a Labor and Delivery nurse for over two years, and I started my career as a new nurse in one of the busiest hospitals in the country. Here are three tips to help you deal with the stress that comes with being the new nurse on the block!
1. Pursue a hobby that isn’t nursing related
Sounds easy, right? A lot of times, we are just “too busy” or “too tired” after working three night shifts in a row on orientation. But it’s crucial to find something to do that you really enjoy to take your mind off the stress, even when all you want to do is sleep or lay on the couch all day. When you do something you enjoy, your body releases certain hormones, such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Each of these can help deal with and reduce stress, while making you feel happier! Whether it’s taking a walk with your dogs, reading a good book, cooking a fun meal, or whatever else you enjoy, try to carve out some time each week.
2. Talk to a buddy (or buddies!)
Oftentimes, it’s helpful to have someone at work that you can talk to because they know EXACTLY what you’re going through. They’re living in the trenches with you, and they get it! Try to find a good resource person in your unit who you can vent to and that will help give you some good feedback or advice to deal with the stressors you’re facing. On the other hand, it can be beneficial to have someone not in the medical field who you can vent to with a different perspective (all venting being HIPAA compliant, of course!). Maybe it’s a parent, spouse, friend, or even a counselor. Carrying around increased stress can wear you down quickly and contributes to burnout. Find people who can support and mentor you to offer an outlet. Studies have shown that talking through problems can work wonders!
This seems like annoying advice after recently graduating from nursing school. Who wants to study after finally graduating? Many clinical rotations are only a few days in each specialty with additional education in class. Actually working as a nurse in one of those units is something else. Your specialty and unit will have policies and procedures outlining the way to care for certain patients. Spend time thoroughly reviewing procedures you will be expected to perform and ask questions if there is anything you’re unsure about.
You will definitely find yourself in one of the situations you read about and will know how to deal with it properly thanks to some of your extra reading. Also, ask some of your coworkers if you can shadow them when they perform a certain procedure or task. Learning firsthand how nurses use different techniques can help you find out which techniques you like best and which suits you more.
Keep your head up and remember why you chose nursing. You’ll feel downtrodden at times, but don’t let those times weigh you down. You won’t always be the new nurse who feels stressed and insecure. Try these tips and carry on with confidence. YOU GOT THIS!
Madeline Miller, RN graduated from nursing school in 2019 and began her career as a Labor & Delivery RN in Texas. After working in L&D for 2.5 years, she moved to outpatient surgery, where she is currently working.