The Nursing Paradox

Aloha Colleagues!

Have you ever read a headline so obvious that you wondered why it was even newsworthy? Here’s one:

“Nurses’ stress levels and coping mechanisms influence their health“

Of course they do! Being nurses cannot neutralize the impact of stress on our health & well-being! But sometimes we behave as if it does. Findings from the same study included the following:

1. Nearly all nurses responding (92 percent) had moderate, high or very high levels of work-related stress. Only about 8 percent reported low or very low stress levels.

2. Seventy-eight percent of nurses got less than eight hours of sleep each night.

3. Sixty-nine percent of nurses reported no regular exercise.

4. Sixty-three percent of nurses said they don’t have at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

5. Twenty-two percent of respondents were considered binge drinkers.

6. Nurses said talking with friends and loved ones (79 percent); listening to music (46 percent); watching TV (43 percent); praying/meditating (43 percent); and eating more of their favorite foods (42 percent) are the most common ways they deal with work-related stress, according to the study. Thirteen percent cited drinking alcohol as a coping mechanism, while 38 percent cited exercise.

7. Seventy percent of respondents said they “sometimes” to “every time” eat more junk food than usual to deal with workplace stress. A similar number of respondents (63 percent) said they “sometimes” to “every time” eat more food than usual as a coping mechanism.

8. The study also found (no surprise!) that respondents who who reported high stress and poor coping had the worst health outcomes and highest health risk behaviors.

The authors concluded,

“The combined variables of perceived stress and perceived coping adequacy influenced the health of nurses”.

As nurses, we know that if stress cannot be eliminated it must be managed. We know that over-stress results in burnout, painfully forced disengagement. We each can identify dozens of adaptive coping strategies. But, how often do consider our own level of stress? How often do we actively use those identified strategies to cope?

This is the paradox of nursing: We take care of literally everybody (patients, their families, staff, our families, friends, our communities – even strangers) except ourselves.

Why?

Can the answer to this question and the key to nurses becoming healthier can be found in the history of our young profession?

Female dominated, does nursing suffer from institutional sexism?

What causes us to put our own needs last?

These questions and others need to be discussed and answers found. Be well, colleagues, and thank you for all you do!
For more information, visit Beckers Hospital Review and, join us in Waikiki on October 23,2019 for the most important conference you will attend: Healing the Healer: Extreme Self Care for Nurses.

Mahalo for All You Do!
Leslie