Personal context: Recognising and managing stress at work

From your previous reading, you will understand that, while some stress enhances performance through its association with challenges, when stress becomes excessive or prolonged it may become harmful.

In order to manage our stress, through modification of the stressor, or our response to it, it is important to recognise its effects.

Physical manifestations are many and range from a raised pulse and blood pressure, chest pain or nausea to tiredness, forgetfulness or susceptibility to minor illness.

Behavioural responses include under or overeating, becoming withdrawn, becoming accident prone, aggressive, compulsive, impatient or increasing your alcohol, nicotine or drug intake.

In order to respond appropriately to stress, we have to recognise that the pressure is mounting beyond that which may be managed through strategies such as time management, delegation and lifestyle factors like exercise, holidays and a healthy diet. These are known as Level 1 responses.

Level 2 responses relate to situations when stress is increasing and affecting your performance. Be conscious of unrealistic expectations of yourself and use supportive friends and family as sources of communication and discussion.

Level 3 responses include seeking support from a healthcare professional and are relevant when stress is prolonged and you believe its effect on your performance is serious.

The facilities and systems for supporting nurses who feel their stress is unmanageable will vary; it is important for you to know what is available to you locally.

Your task

What strategies are you aware of for supporting stress in healthcare workers in your context? Do you know what is available to you locally? Share your comments with your group.

Adapted from:

Royal College of Nursing (2005) ‘Managing Your Stress: A Guide for Nurses’. [online] available from [November 2017]

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This article is from the free online course:

Nursing in Crisis? Exploring Current Challenges

Coventry University