Nurses in the clinical area have always been on the frontline of the healthcare workforce. They are by far the largest occupation in hospitals, with 30 percent of total hospital employment and workforce, and it’s with no doubt that Nurses often put the needs of patients before their own, sometimes even before the needs of their families. This concern for others can cause conflicts that manifest as stress, anxiety, depression, and apprehension.
Hospitals are known to be both rewarding and stressful places to work. Like most workers, nurses face the challenge of balancing the demands and achievements of work with those in their private lives. It can’t be overemphasized as with the present Covid 19 pandemic, Nurses at the Critical Care areas work tirelessly all round the clock to provide for the ever-growing needs of patients. From dealing with serious medical emergencies to the long exhausting hours of work and to the grieving from the death of patients, the demands in nursing can place a lot of strain on nurses.
When nurses are under extreme pressure, burnout can occur. Thus, it is imperative that nurses learn to balance their work and personal life and to improve their mental, emotional and social wellbeing altogether.
In this article, we will understand the various strategies nurses can adapt so as to take care of themselves mentally and physically during Covid!
1. Adequate time management
In many ways, time management is stress management. When you’re already overwhelmed, it’s often too late to start looking for time-saving tricks, so time management is an important skill any Nurse should try to perfect every day. Nurses in the clinical area face difficulties in managing their time either through lack of the skills required or poor application of time management.
With the high demand of patients with Covid, it will be beneficial for nurses to master the skills needed to delegate tasks effectively, good nursing assistants can make life so much better on the floor, but there’s an art to how you use this resource efficiently as well. A great interpersonal relationship matters so the nurse can delegate tasks when pressing patient demands are needing to be met.
Effective prioritization of tasks is another way to manage time effectively. Nurses need to be comfortable prioritizing their tasks. This can be achieved by knowing what is most important to the patient and the worst thing that can happen if some demands are not met. This can save ample time for the Nurse to rest, eat or meditate which are core essentials of psychological care.
Arriving early at work is also an important factor to consider, giving yourself an extra five to 10 minutes will create you a chance to settle and take stock of the vibes on the ward for the shift. And if you have more time, you may even be able to read through any messages, look at where you’ve been allocated and organize any tasks beforehand to prepare for your plan of care. You may also have time to meditate, make your to-do list, and get well organized.
2. Adequate sleep and rest
Work-related burnout is a common risk among health care workers. A recent publication found that more than 15% of nurses interviewed reported feelings of burnout and 56% of nurses interviewed said their health care facility was either slightly or highly ineffective at dealing with burnout. Burnout can also result in adverse consequences, such as:
Reduced quality of patient care, reduced quality of mental health among health care workers, Increase in depression, anxiety, and substance abuse among health care workers especially nurses.
Time management in nursing is not solely concerned with increasing productivity. It involves taking time to rest and recharge. Nurses must take regular breaks and prioritize time off to prevent work-related burnout.
Sleeping is simply a way of enabling the brain to subdue previous tensions and be prepared to overcome the ones to come. With adequate rest and sleep of 8 hours a day; during your off time, it’s obvious the brain will be ready and alert for upcoming duties.
3. Interpersonal relationship and collaboration
Your coworkers are your biggest resource when it comes to time management. It’s essential that you rely on your team for encouragement and help throughout your shift. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a co-worker whose patient load is lighter than yours. And whenever possible, return the favor.
Effective communication is also necessary to boost your interpersonal relationship and in turn win favor from your colleagues. Some Nurses may even go further to consider choosing a “nurse buddy” at the start of their shift. Having a designated co-worker to assist you with covering breaks, quick tasks, and overall support can not only boost morale but help save you time as things get busy and stressful. Seek help if you need it and master collaborative skills because they will be helpful when you need it most.
The importance of finding a mentor cannot be overstated. In one case study, researchers found that a healthy mentor-mentee nursing partnership resulted in great benefits. Some nurses may decide to seek psychological support for their work-life balance.
Sometimes taking a few minutes out to reassess where you’re at and to prioritize what needs to be done next is the best thing you can do. You can’t think clearly in the midst of a muddle. Step into the treatment room, recollect your thoughts and focus on what needs to be done next and for the rest of the shift.
No matter how busy the shift is, take restroom breaks and take your meal breaks. You need fuel to recharge and complete your shift effectively.
5. Maximizing your strength
Know how to find answers by knowing your resources. For example; If you’ve been searching for information about a new drug or interactions and are struggling to find the answer, call the pharmacist. If you know your patient is going for a scan or examination in 30 minutes, call transport to get them on their transport list. Be sure to utilize all the resources at your disposal in order to save you time and avert stress. You don’t want to do things unprepared and under pressure, these are the major sources of stress.
Anticipating the needs of your patients can also save you time during your shift and keeps you focused on what’s important and in turn reduce stress. Patients don’t always think about what they need unless you bring it up.” Getting these little tasks out of the way while the shift is less busy can keep the patient from needing you during an emergency in another room. For example, asking patients if they would like to use the restroom or have some water or juice when you have time, be proactive! This is also known as rounding and can be done routinely by a nursing assistant or a nurse.
6. Managing stress more effectively
Stress management in nursing work requires dynamic change management. Nurses in the clinic area can engage in “cognitive stacking” by determining what level of care is necessary, what care is possible, and how they can best deliver necessary care with their available resources and time. Nurses are required to constantly reorganize tasks as higher priority items arise.
A nurse should make a list of routine tasks and sequence each task based on the duration and prioritization of each item. Implementing a step-by-step process for habitual duties can save time daily.
If you find yourself in a lull, you can for example maximize your time by taking a minute of snack while you update patients’ charts. You never know whether you’ll have time for an actual break later.
Overworked nurses are at risk for fatigue that can lead to burnout. They can jeopardize the health of patients, as well as possibly damage their own mental and physical well-being. By practicing and implementing these strategies, nurses can secure some space in their schedules for rejuvenation and relaxation thereby maximizing their productivity and improving their overall well-being.
John C O. Is a critical care nurse, with over 3 years of experience, rendering compassionate and holistic care to a wide variety of patients.
He is a writer, and deeply committed to Knowledge, expertise, and achievement in areas including; health informatics, Data Science, and Artificial intelligence.