Nursing is a fast-paced, high-stress career that often takes a toll on a nurse’s mental health. In fact, studies show that 18% of hospital-employed nurses experience depression. While this career can be rewarding, it is also mentally and physically draining. What can you do to get through the day and maintain a positive outlook? Check out these depression management tips for nurses, courtesy of Urban Balance counseling centers.
Join a Nurse Support Group (Or Create Your Own!)
Nurse support groups bring nurses together so they can discuss their feelings, frustrations, joys and hardships with people who truly understand their experiences. There may be a support group at your place of work, or there may be a larger one in your community. Talk to your human resources department to start your search, or ask other nurses in your department.
As an alternative to this, you could start your own nurse support group. Talk to your colleagues about having weekly/monthly support meetings where you hang out, vent and have fun. Your support group could be something as simple as a group chat with other nurses. If you can’t meet in person, you at least have a place to share your feelings. You will benefit from the support of others, and you can give them support in return.
Know When You’re Overworked and Respond to That
Nurses are notoriously overworked. Those 8-16 hour shifts are hard to manage, especially when you’re short staffed or working overtime. You know your own limits. If you feel overworked, talk to your supervisor about taking time off. You may need to take a personal day to regroup, or you may need to reduce your hours altogether. The best way to care for others is to first care for yourself.
Don’t Fill Your Days off with Tasks to Complete
Does your to-do list seem never-ending? Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate that. Your days off should be a break from stress. If they’re crammed with tasks to complete, you’re going to carry that stress into your work. The stress continues to compile, and you feel the weight of every new task.
Instead of scheduling every minute of your days off, focus on the most vital tasks. If you have time for the others, great. If not, don’t stress about it. Accomplish one item at a time, and focus on relaxing as much as possible. Your mind and body need to recharge.
Maintain a Consistent Sleep Routine
We know, we know. You’re laughing in your head right now. Nurses inherently have inconsistent sleep schedules because of their work. You may not be able to go to bed at the same time every night, but you should strive to create a sleep routine. For instance, you may take a shower an hour before bed, then watch 30 minutes of TV and fall asleep. You might talk to your spouse for 30 minutes, read for 30 minutes, and then go to bed with all the lights off.
Find a routine that works, and use that as a template regardless of your schedule. Your body will fall asleep faster if it knows what to expect, and more sleep means less depression.
Find Someone You Can Vent to
Sometimes you just need to let it all out. Find one person you can talk to about the stress from work. Of course, you cannot divulge private patient information, but you can talk about the general stress and pressure you’re feeling. If you had a difficult experience, like a patient turning for the worse, talk about the emotions you’re going through. The listener may not fully understand your experience, but you will feel better getting those thoughts off your chest.
This confidant may be your significant other, a parent, a close friend, a religious leader, or anyone you feel comfortable with. Of course, you could also discuss your stress with a therapist. At Urban Balance, we have specialists in all of our offices who offer depression counseling, anxiety counseling, and other solutions. We promote healthy work/life balances, and we offer personalized therapy based on evidence. You may contact us at (888) 726-7170 to learn more.
Continue to Part 2 to learn more depression management tips for nurses.