A Guide for Nurses

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working well
Managing
your stress
A guide for nurses

initiative

This guidance has been developed by the
RCN Counselling Service
Telephone: 0845 769 7064

Lead author
Rachel Murray
RCN Counsellor

Acknowledgements
Dee Borley
Director of RCN Nurseline
Carol Bannister
RCN Occupational Health Adviser
Sheelagh Brewer
Senior Employment Relations Officer
Barry McInnes
Head of RCN Counselling
Cathy Taylor
Nursing Careers Adviser
RCN Legal Services
Howard Richmond
David Gardiner
Tony Grayson
Illustrations by Martin Davies
The idea for this booklet arose from two sources. Firstly, the concerns of RCN counsellors at the increasing numbers of nurses contacting the RCN Counselling Service with stress-related difficulties, and secondly, from the discussions of the RCN Working Well Initiative on stress.

This booklet is one of a number of initiatives aimed at raising awareness of the impact of occupational stress on nurses in today’s society. It is hoped that this easy-to-read guide will help nurses understand how to manage personal stress and the responsibilities of employers in relation to occupational stress.

Published by the Royal College of Nursing, 20 Cavendish Square, London,W1G 0RN ©2005 Royal College of Nursing.All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the Publishers or a licence permitting restricted copying issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency, 90 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 4LP. This publication may not be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise disposed of by ways of trade in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published, without the prior consent of the Publishers. RCN Legal Disclaimer

This publication contains information, advice and guidance to help members of the RCN. It is intended for use within the UK but readers are advised that practices may vary in each country and outside the UK.

The information in this booklet has been compiled from professional sources, but its accuracy is not guaranteed.Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the RCN provides accurate and expert information and guidance, it is impossible to predict all the circumstances in which it may be used.Accordingly, the RCN shall not be liable to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by what is contained in or left out of this guidance.

ROYAL COLLEGE OF N URSI NG

Managing your stress
A guide for nurses

Contents
page

1

Introduction

2

2

Stress and nursing

2

3

Stressed? Who, me?
Signs and symptoms

3

4

Reducing and managing stress

5

5

Occupational stress: what employers should be doing

8

6

Taking legal steps

11

7

Key points to remember

13

Appendices:
1

References and further reading

14

2

Useful contacts and websites

15

1

MANAGING YOUR STRESS – A GUIDE FOR NURSES

1

Introduction

– a chronic reaction, or it may be a series of rapid events over a short time period – an acute response. It may also
be a combination of the two in your personal and/or
professional life.

Stress has become a more recognised term over the past
decade and is a major cause for concern for many
nurses at work. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
defines stress as “the adverse reaction people have to
excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on
them”.

The stress response is also uniquely experienced and
perceived – one person’s stress is another person’s
stimulus! And vice versa. Just as your fingerprint has a lot in common with the fingerprint of another, it is also
unique to you, likewise with your response to stress.
Hence, there is no single solution, but there are a number
of ways to reduce and manage stress, some of...
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