Stress is an issue that will always be present in the nursing profession. However, stress has gone through the roof due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing number of infected patients. Not to mention the ever-evolving healthcare sector where one treatment method effective one day can be ineffective the following day.
Furthermore, the ever-growing number of ageing patients with chronic illnesses and the nationwide staff shortage puts many nurses at risk of burnout, stress-related issues, moral distress, compassion fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
As a result, developing personal resilience during and after the pandemic is vital for every nurse out there.
That said, resilience is more than just a word in the nursing profession these days. In fact, it refers to a nurse’s ability to adjust and work under adversity. It is an analogy known as an individual’s PPF (personal protective factor), allowing them to navigate stressful situations positively.
In the end, resilience is all about using strategies and building strength to tackle stressful, unforeseen circumstances before they occur. With that in mind, let us look at a few ways nurses can develop resilience and adaptability to navigate the post-pandemic world.
Consider higher education.
Going for further education in the nursing field allows aspiring nursing candidates and practicing nurses to remain up-to-date with the latest treatment and patient care advancements.
Moreover, it also opens up various opportunities for them in other nursing sub-fields like pain management, senior care, nurse management, childcare, and much more.
And, let’s not forget, one of the most significant benefits of higher education is that it teaches healthcare practitioners ways to build resilience.
Earning a terminal degree in nursing like a doctor of nursing (DNP) equips aspiring nursing candidates with the skills necessary to tackle complex situations with excellent efficiency and effectiveness.
Since modern nursing degree programs also focus on improving pandemic preparedness, prevention, and protection procedures, these degrees are helping nurses understand the complexities of dealing with various medical emergencies and patient handling strategies.
Maintain a positive work-life balance.
Nurses who can maintain a positive work-life balance have a higher chance of experiencing greater job satisfaction and are emotionally and physically healthier. However, if nurses experience work-related stress day in and day out, it usually shows in their work.
In fact, they endanger patient lives as they tend to make more medical errors. So, to build resilience, nurses must try to achieve a positive work-life balance.
One way to do this is by maintaining your boundaries. That said, most nurses admit that they sign up for overtime when their unit is short-staffed. But, always remember it is okay to say no sometimes to take care of your personal life.
However, if you don’t know how to switch off from work and balance work with your responsibilities, consider reaching out to a therapist or workplace mentor who will guide you better.
In the end, being overworked and feeling tired will lead to various issues such as compassion fatigue, burnout, and stress, which can sometimes result in poor patient outcomes.
Take regular breaks.
Regular breaks are of the utmost importance if you’re looking to reduce fatigue and build resilience while working as a nurse.
According to research, if you can take breaks in regular intervals, you’ll experience greater life satisfaction and less mental strain.
While taking a vacation from work will be the best way to work on your resilience, even short breaks during your daily shift will allow you to cope with a post-pandemic world, especially while working a demanding nursing job.
Spend some time in nature.
As mentioned above, breaks are necessary while working in the nursing field. However, if you spend some time with nature during your time off, you’ll undoubtedly improve your outlook on life.
In fact, being close to nature has been shown to improve mood while reducing cortisol levels and stress perceptions in nurses with poor mental health.
Moreover, in the old times, eastern cultures utilised ‘forest bathing’ or the practice of ‘Shinrin-Yoku’ to immerse individuals in nature and engage all of their five senses. According to research, forest bathing has various therapeutic benefits on bodily systems such as the respiratory, cardiovascular, and immune systems.
Moreover, these therapeutic benefits also help tackle anxiety and depression while providing mental relaxation and improving selflessness and gratitude – all helpful in building personal resilience.
Reshape your behavioural and cognitive habits.
If you’re working as a nurse, consider engaging in reflective thinking by practicing acts of kindness and keeping a journal containing what you do.
After all, doing so will allow you to foster feelings of positivity in your life and work. In addition, there is a massive connection between health benefits and random acts of kindness. The research concludes that the more act of kindness you do, the greater the health benefits.
Moreover, according to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, if you aren’t able to engage in random acts of kindness, even witnessing someone else doing them has the potential of producing oxytocin inside your body.
Such a thing leads to increased self-esteem and a decrease in blood pressure, building physical resilience in the process.
Mindful meditation, prayer, yoga, or journaling are easy ways to circumvent anxiety and build a connection with the present. That said, when you’re practicing mindfulness, observe your sensations, emotions, and thoughts without any judgment and pay close attention to your internal environment.
What’s more, such practices will help significantly in both work and home environments while improving your performance and focus in the process. So, nurses who seek mindfulness can visit resources available at Minfdul.org, Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Masterclass, or Headspace if they’re looking to improve their resilience.
Nursing is a challenging profession of the healthcare sector where burnout and stress are prevalent. However, nurses can improve their physical and mental health by developing personal and environmental resilience, reducing burnout, and tackling other nursing profession-related issues while experiencing excellent job satisfaction and on-the-job performance.
So, consider the resilience-building methods mentioned in this article and incorporate them into your daily routine to ensure that you perform your job with the utmost efficiency during and after the pandemic.