Stress Management Tips for Nurse Managers

stress-managementBy Elizabeth Marcant, Contributor

Stress can be a real problem for nurses. According to Becker's Hospital Review, more than 90 percent of nurses say they experience moderate or very high stress levels on a regular basis. And for nurses in a leadership role, the normal stress that comes with caring for patients can be compounded by management concerns.

As a nurse, you probably already know that regular exercise can help you control your stress levels. But check out some of the other tips on how to manage nursing stress below.

Top 3 Nursing Tips for Stress Management

Stay in the moment and act

Susan Petang is the author of The Quiet Zone - Mindful Stress Management for Everyday People. She says mindfulness plays a big role in stress management, especially for people in occupations such as nursing or nurse management.

"Stay in the moment, and focus on what you're doing right now," says Petang.

But that doesn't mean to focus in on the negatives. Petang says to "focus on solving problems rather than being consumed by them." Nurse managers who are able to approach aspects of their day — from patient needs to staff issues — in a solution-oriented manner can find way way to deal with a situation and then move on to their next task. And taking action rather that putting it off can mean reduced worry about the moment in the future.

Protect your magnesium level

Carolyne Dean, MD, ND, is the author of Hormone Balance, The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Women's Health and The Magnesium Miracle. She reminds nurses that one result of a higher stress level is the release of cortisol by the adrenal gland. While this hormonal release is one of the body's ways of managing stress and related instincts, such as fight-or-flight, Dean says that "chronically elevated cortisol can cause negative health effects, including:

Suppressed immunity


High blood sugar

Insulin resistance

Carbohydrate cravings

Metabolic syndrome

Type 2 diabetes

Fat deposits on the face, neck and belly

Reduced libido"

But the body's response to stress isn't just limited to driving up hormones. The body uses magnesium to regulate cortisol levels, and continued stress means the body is constantly dumping magnesium into the mix to keep your nervous system in the right zone. The goal of the body is to ramp you up to the ability to cope with stressful situations without creating more stress and anxiety.

"When the body is stressed – and it can be for a dozen different reasons," says Dean, "our magnesium reserves dump this crucial mineral into our blood stream and we immediately become one of those people blessed with the ability to cope. We are both calm and alert. Our co-workers and friends think it’s just who we are but it’s really how much magnesium we have in reserve."

Dean says that the constant release of magnesium, however, depletes the body's reserves of this critical stress management mineral. She notes, "Physical and emotional stress as well as junk food, caffeine and alcohol all deplete the body of magnesium."

She recommends that nurses keep tabs on their magnesium levels and supplement as necessary.

"Not all forms of magnesium are easily absorbed by the body," says Dean. "That's why I recommend a picometer-ionic form of magnesium, smaller in diameter than the body's cell mineral ion channels. It will completely absorb into cells when mixed with hot or cold water and sipped at work or at home throughout the day will relieve a nursing managers stress levels and will not cause a laxative effect like most other forms of magnesium."

Find the balance

Balance isn't just important when it comes to mineral levels. Petang says it's important for nurses managers to think positively whenever possible. "Find wonder, amazement, and gratitude for every moment. There is always something, even if only that you have the strength to survive it."

She also says that "stuff happens" and all nurses — and especially supervisors — must learn when to let things go. "Forget about what should or ought to happen — focus on what is happening," says Petang.

Obviously, nurse managers must take a balanced approach to this philosophy. You can't be lackadaisical with patient care, but if staff is going above and beyond quality care expectations, then you may need to avoid battles about minor preferences in other areas of the work place to best manage stress levels.

Ultimately, a nurse management job is never going to be without stress. But following some of these nursing tips can help you manage yours for a longer and more successful career. You can also discover more nurse stress management tips that work.


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