A Physical & Mental Healthcare Guide for Healthcare Workers

Nursing has always been an important part of the healthcare industry and society, but in an ever-changing landscape, there are always going to be challenges facing the industry. Everybody knows somebody who has worked in the industry and no doubt heard the tales of woe that faces nurses every day. With the additional pressure added by the global pandemic from 2020, these trials only increased. The following article will have a more in-depth look at the challenges faced in today’s climate and the best ways to psychically and mentally handle the stress associated with this.

What Are the Challenges?

Ever tried to book a lunch or dinner catch-up with a nurse and been faced with innumerable reschedules or cancellations? This is likely related to long shifts and frequently changing schedules. It’s not uncommon for a nurse to be working 8–12-hour shifts at a time with the likelihood of overtime. Then there is the rotating roster that most nurses work to, meaning that it is common for a nurse’s working hours to change from one week to the next. This is just touching the surface, let’s take a closer look at some of the concerns arising for nurses.

Emotional Involvement

Speaking with a nurse on a rare day off and hearing stories about their patients you are likely to hear about the patients that have really touched them on a personal note. One of the challenges in nursing is drawing a line between work and one’s personal life, as it becomes very easy to become emotionally invested in a patient’s life, well-being, and overall medical outcomes. This can become a huge burden to bear over time especially when the outcome for that patient may not be positive.

Physicality Of The Role

Nurses are regularly expected to support with lifting, repositioning, and transporting patients to different areas of the hospital. This physical load can be quite damaging long term to a nurse’s body. Not to mention being on their feet for most of their shifts and sometimes literally running around, which can lead to strain injuries.

Lack Of Nurses Available

Research through the American Nurses Association (ANA) has found that while there are currently 4.3 million registered nurses this is not enough to cover retiring staff, burnout, and increased demand for health care. Couple this with inadequate workforce support, and many nurses are choosing to leave the industry altogether. Due to these factors, while it means higher job security for people remaining in the industry, it also means an even higher likelihood of burnout.

Patient Aggression

When somebody is in a vulnerable state such as being stuck in a hospital they can lash out and the first point of contact is going to be their nurse. These behaviors can be physical or mental but more likely verbal. These behaviors again start to take a toll on a nurse’s mental well-being and feeling safe at work.

Physical And Mental Wellbeing

For a nurse or someone contemplating becoming a nurse, the challenges described above can look quite daunting, and this has only just scratched the surface of some of the issues faced by nursing staff. All industries face troubling times and staff can always find ways to combat these areas of concern in ways that work for themselves. Let’s have a look at what some of those tips and tricks might be.

Long Shifts Solved

To start with the most obvious; do not compromise your health. This may seem logical and easy enough to follow but becomes quite challenging when you are faced with a long list of patients and staff shortages. However, nobody is going to look after your health therefore you need to be the one doing it. Take regular short breaks throughout the shift and make sure you are stopping for a proper meal break to keep your strength up. Once your shift is over, make sure you are getting a suitable rest, prioritize your sleep, and get your family to support you with household tasks as needed.  

Stress & Risk of Burnout

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from co-workers, you are a team and they have likely experienced similar feelings. Instead of getting to burnout point, take leave and practice healthy habits. Incorporate things into your schedule that are purely for yourself such as regular exercise, meditation, reading a book, or whatever works best for you. Moving forward it’s important to remember that your mental health is key, therefore never hesitate to seek professional guidance in the form of a psychologist or counselor if you feel it’s needed. Also, having friends in the industry with whom you can share stories and thoughts and receive advice is also a good way to release accumulated stress.

 Whilst there are many challenges facing the nursing industry there is always a solution, and you just need to find the one that is best for you as an individual. Challenges in any industry are inevitable, it’s what you do to combat it that is within your power. It is hugely important to speak up for your needs and be your own strongest advocate, but the most vital thing for anybody is to ensure you are taking care of your mental, emotional, and physical health at all times.