Nurses make up the bulk of the healthcare workforce and are natural problem-solvers and innovators. We therefore stand out as indispensable at any time, but especially during a public health emergency. During the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses are experiencing pressure, fear, exhaustion, isolation and ongoing emotional trauma. This ongoing stress and trauma impacts your mental health, safety, and ability to provide the best possible care. Taking steps to manage your stress is just as important as taking care of your physical health!
Tips for Managing Your Stress
Acknowledge and Understand Your Reactions
Be Aware and Monitor Your Wellbeing
Activate Your Parasympathetic Nervous System to Combat Stress
Take Time for Your Mental Health
Coping with Moral Distress
Many nurses are encountering unprecedented circumstances that may cause moral injury. This moral distress can be difficult to cope with and you may need additional support to address the damage it can cause. Symptoms of moral distress include self-criticism and intense feelings of shame, guilt, or disgust. It can also contribute to depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Early support is key for addressing trauma from moral distress. Strategies include team support to discuss the challenges of providing care for patients, regular contact from supervisors, briefing on moral injuries, and more. For more information about identifying and coping with negative moral effects, please click here.
Important Reminders for Nurses
You will have reactions, such as anxiety, stress, or grief, to the increased and persistent stressors and potential trauma you are encountering.
Exercise self-compassion - almost everyone impacted by an emergency will experience psychological distress.
Nurses may experience excessive stress or other mental health impacts during this time. It is not a sign of weakness.
It is easy to play up the importance of self-care to our patients while downplaying it to ourselves. Resist that urge. Give yourself permission to schedule even a few moments for self-care each day.
Help is available if symptoms you are experiencing impact your ability to provide care to your patients and your family in the same way you did before the pandemic.
Connect with your purpose: Acknowledge the crucial and noble work you are doing.
Create ongoing supportive connections with your colleagues to help validate and normalize your experiences.
Warning Signs of Excessive Stress
Below are symptoms you may experience if you are under excessive stress. If these symptoms last for more than 2-4 weeks and/or interfere with your relationships, work or daily functioning, you may need to seek care.
If you are in an emergency such as thinking of suicide or hurting yourself, or you know someone who is, call 911.
Find a mental health professional:
For more information on finding a mental health provider, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Call or text one of the Hotlines below for immediate response:
Content on this page is informational only and does not serve as a substitute for seeing a licensed professional who can provide a diagnosis.