Every nurse is familiar with the word “stress,” which is most of the time equivalent to the colloquial medical term of “toxic”, which for us nurses means too many patients to handle. This scenario is one of the causes of work-related stress, which according to WHO, can damage employees’ health and performance. It could also be caused by little support from supervisors and colleagues and little control over work processes.

On the other hand, patients can have several reasons to feel stressed, like present illness, personal problems, and even financial issues. It really ranges from family, health, and work to either physiological or psychological stressors.

Stress versus Anxiety

Most of the time, they are used simultaneously, but there is a difference between the two. This is due to the reaction of the body, which is the same for both. Let us enumerate their dissimilarities.


  • the feeling of “worry”,, nervousness and uneasiness
  • short-term
  • future threat
  • nurses: job interview or first day in your workplace, patient with nobody inside his room
  • patient: pending surgery, undiagnosed signs, and symptoms


  • caused by “pressure.”
  • long term (could last for weeks, months or even years)
  • real danger or existing threat
  • causes fight or flight response
  • nurse: boss gives you several tasks with limited time, its traffic and you’re late
  • patient: caregiver is ill-tempered, expensive bill due to hospitalization

Stress and Depression

There are numerous stress management that you can perform, but these are the most common ones.


It could be a demanding boss, lazy co-workers, low salary, or too much workload that causes a nurse to be stressed out. But whatever job you could have, these things are inevitable, so all you could do is to deal with them.

  1. Be organized. Have a pocket notebook where you can write your schedules and the things you need to do. This helps you maximize your time and manage your effort. Plan ahead of time and make sure you have backups. Also, write the things you accomplished to your client to avoid chart errors or for your personal agendas. You will feel calm if everything is in its place.
  1. Stay away from the stressor or deal with it. If your stressor is your co-worker, avoid dealing with them if possible or talk to them about a work-related topic to avoid too much interaction. But if you cannot avoid the stressor, deal with them like confronting the person involved but always make sure that you talk calmly and away from the public. You can also report it to your supervisor if you cannot handle them, either a patient or other employee. If it is your boss, prove to him that you are a worthy employee with quality work.
  1. Bond with your workmates. Sometimes, it takes a talk and plays to get to know each other. This is the purpose of team buildings. Aside from strong collaborations between employees, this is also a way to be comfortable with people you really don’t get along very well with. You could also eat or go out together outside your workplace and have a professional bond which sometimes could lead to friendship, giving you a harmonious workplace.
  1. Pamper Yourself. Too much workload gives a lot of pressure, and you cannot control everything that is happening. So after a long day, go to a spa and have some massage or travel if you have a long vacation or leave. These refresh your mind and body, thus feeling regained energy and ready to enter the battlefield again.
  1. Aside from stress-eating, which most of the time has a bad effect, shopping is better than it. The feeling of searching for something you really like and having a new stuff makes you happy. With it, you forget the feeling of “I’m in a bad mood”. Even just window shopping online is something that makes you feel excited.


As much as we need to de-stress and so do our patients. Having an organized and relaxed mind makes us efficient nurses; thus, we can give our clients the best quality of service. But for patients, we need to be extra careful how to manage their stresses because they are vulnerable, especially with serious medical conditions.

  1. Breathing exercise. This is essential management you can do to your patient. Teach them to relax through deep or focus breathing. Other “breathing patterns” (link below) that your patient can learn can lower stress, relax muscles, and help them calm down.
  1. Give a pen. Some patients are introvert that they choose to deal with things quietly by writing or drawing. Let them write their thoughts or anything they wanted to put into words via pen and paper. Nowadays, art therapy became trending even to millennials since it tickles your creative mind and makes you divert any negative feelings.
  1. Talk to them. Treat them like a friend that has a problem let them elaborate on what they feel and what causes them to feel that way. But make sure to use therapeutic techniques and know your patient’s background very well because one technique could not be effective to others since there are different kinds of people. Ensure that every problem has a solution; guide him towards his choices and let your patient find that out.
  1. Relax the mind. It could be a quiet and well-ventilated room or going out and breathe some fresh air. Ask your patients whichever they prefer and provide the best and appropriate management for each of them.
  1. Watch or Listen. Watching funny videos or comedy movies releases “happy” hormones. They could also listen to instrumental songs like Beethoven’s or Yiruma’s, which soothes the mind and body, therefore, rests the patient’s tensed muscles.

Most of all, always smile and laugh as often as you can!

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