Mangaing Stress to Prevent Burnout

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Managing Stress: The Prevention of Burnout
Heather A. Ingalls
Chamberlain College of Nursing
NR 351: Transitions in the Professions
Summer A 2010

Managing Stress: The Prevention of Burnout
Farrington (1997) stated “Stress has been identified as possibly the greatest reason why so many qualified nurses give up nursing” (p. 44). Stress leads to burnout which leads to nurses no longer being nurses either by personal choice or by some incident that happened that has caused this nurse to no longer practice. This paper will discuss and define stressors for the professional nurse and explain burnout as well as strategies to manage the stress and prevent burnout. Lastly it will go over a case study and discuss some examples the nurse used to decrease stress and prevent his or her burnout. Definition of Stressors and Burnout

Stressors can be thought of as physical, psychological, or social force that puts real or perceived demands on the body, emotions, mind, or spirit of an individual. Nurses can have personal stressors and stressors brought on by the company they work for. Examples of personal stressors would include marital problems, financial concerns, and possibly problems with children just to name a few. Company stressors are “professional latitude and role problems such as inconsistencies in patient care, conflict, clinical demands and workload” (Farrington, 1997, p. 44). This could include the nurse to patient ratio, mandatory overtime, and working within strict budget, limiting the care a nurse is able to provide, and dealing with the emotions that come when a patient is unable to be saved. Taormina and Law (2000) describe “burnout as a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion found in people who work intensively with other people in emotionally demanding situations” (p. 89). Van Den Tooren and De Jonge (2008), conducted a study in a Dutch Nursing Home and found the top three reasons for burnout were emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a decreased feeling of personal accomplishment. The study showed that correlation that high physical and mental demands when associated with low physical and mental resources put the nurse at the greatest risk for emotional exhaustion and burnout. Management of Stressors

With the appropriate management of stressors, negative stressors can turn positive, burnout can be prevented, and the entire circumstance can become a learning experience. A nurse who can learn to manage personal stressors can be more equipped to manage stressors at work. The same holds true for a nurse who learns to manage stressors at work is more prepared to manage stressors at home. Training is the most important way to teach a nurse to manage stress. Personal stress management programs include the development of interpersonal skills, self management skills, and psychological preparedness. Stress management programs are designed to aid in gaining interpersonal skills (Taormina and Law, 2000). These skills are so important to nursing. Through learning the skill of intereacting with others, a nurses overall stress level is decreased. “Such skills involve creating relaxed interactions with others while maintaining one’s ability to refuse a request that is too burdensome” (Taormina and Law, 2000, p.90). The more developed interpersonal skills a person has, the less depersonalization and emotional exhaustion occur.

Self management skills are used by people to learn to manage their stressors through a positive release of negative energy. Some examples of this include relaxation techniques, breathing techniques, reading a book, exercising, and even just sitting by oneself and meditating. These skills help reduce the negative effects on stress and teach the person to more effectively manage their lives personally and professionally. Just as with the interpersonal skills, developed self management skills decrease depersonalization and emotional exhaustion (Taormina and Law, 2000)....
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