Nurses: Calm Up Top, Paddling Like Heck Underneath

Nurses Calm Up Top Paddling Like Heck UnderneathYep, you read it right, nurses are calm up top and are paddling like heck underneath.  Occasionally, you may see their stress as it presents itself in odd ways.  However, most people may never fully appreciate the stress levels nurses endure on a regular basis. 

Not only nurses, but all other healthcare providers, assistants, therapists, medics, first responders, the list goes on. 

We can also include law enforcement, firefighters, and any volunteer (Let’s not forget Red Cross volunteers) that is exposed to managing both physical and mental healthcare emergencies.  Forgive me if I left anyone out, please comment and let me know your experiences.

As a nurse, I have managed, or been a part of managing, some horrific patient experiences.  I have seen agonizing suffering, both to patients and their families.  But I have also seen wonderful outcomes, happy and joyous.  Sometimes, the good outcomes can come with its own stress. 

Some facilities have policies in place for caregivers involved in the most stressful of occurrences, to meet afterward and talk, or debriefing, and problem solve.  Most do not.  If structured well, it includes stress management skills.

Most nurses and healthcare providers are left with their own stress management skills to manage as best they can.  Sometimes, those stress management skills are not the healthiest, like smoking or overeating. 

What are we doing right?

However, there are those that do practice healthy stress management techniques.  They practice self-care, healthy eating, exercise in some form (daily walking is great), healthy venting to a trusted source, laughter, crying, meditation, the list goes on.  I would love for you to comment on your healthy stress management style.  What do you do for you?

To take it a step forward, those same nurses and therapists (all types of therapists, including respiratory therapists especially) attempt to teach those healthy, stress management skills to their patients. 

I have seen nurses teach breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery to their patients.  Some patients and families are ready, some are not.  The main goal is for the nurse to be ready to teach when the patient is ready to learn. 

We are teachers forever, it’s one of the hats nurses wear.  And yes, nurses are calm up top, while paddling like heck underneath.

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