Nurses are usually equipped with a high stress threshold, we work in high pressure environment, having the responsibility of someone else's life on your hands and their family members demanding answers, piled up with physicians orders and administration requirements, low staffing ratios and HCAHPS. All this on top of our individual lives' stressors, that we can't simply "check it" at the door before starting our shift.
We all have the amount of stressors we can deal with before bursting through our stress threshold. Just for fun and games, stretch one arm out in front of you, that is your stress threshold. Now name some of the daily stressors you deal with, as well as personal stressors that are affecting you. With each stressors named, imagine it being piled up on top of the other like bricks, after only a few you will notice that the pile is quickly reaching up to your threshold, right?
When stressors pile up too high, pushing close to our limits, we often raise a guilt within us, adding even another brick to the pile. When we feel guilty of reaching our stress threshold, we often tend to down play our stressors, claiming it was "nothing much" or "stupid," by doing this, you condition yourself to think that that you "should've" been stronger or “should” be managing better, and you compare yourself to others how they are able to deal with these things with “ease”. Their brick pile may just be lower than yours.
Rule to remember is, dont beat yourself up for feeling stressed. We work under stressful conditions regardless of day 1 or day 4, and we all have individual external stressors. The feeling of being stressed and reaching a threshold can come with engulfing feelings of self doubt, and those feelings itself is frustrating.
As nurses, even under stress we continue to perform at our best and we depend on our team members to assist in managing our pile of bricks. Working under pressure and toxic work environment has pushed many nurses to become burnt out. Take a mental health day, focus on your individual wellbeing. Unplug to recharge.
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The Dude Nurse
Klaus Campos, BSN-RN