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Overcoming Anxiety: Tips for New Nurses

If you’re a new grad RN, you’re in the job market or you’ve just started your first assignment, you know that job hunting, getting licensed and the challenges of your first nursing position can be stressful. You celebrated surviving nursing school, only to find that you have brand-new obstacles to overcome. Despite the nursing shortage, new RNs with little or no experience often find it difficult to find their first job and those who do find a job may find it much harder than they expected. As a result, many young RNs can start to experience anxiety.

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Anxiety is on the rise in young people. Today’s hyper-connected digital society means life is moving faster and there are higher expectations than ever before of young people. It’s not surprising that more young adults are experiencing anxiety as they try to navigate today’s modern world.

New RNs are under more pressure than ever before and may start to experience anxiety

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Dealing with Stress and Anxiety
Approximately forty million U.S. adults suffer from some type of anxiety disorder and 75 percent of them experience their first anxiety attack by age 22. A 2013 USA Today article said that adults between 18-30 report that their stress is continually increasing and keeps them awake at night. Anxiety can feel like a dark cloud over their lives, and, unless they deal with the problem in a healthy way, can lead to mental and physical problems. Considering the fact that nursing is an inherently stressful profession, people entering the field need to make sure they nip anxiety symptoms in the bud.

The Mayo Clinic lists symptoms of anxiety to look out for:

• Feeling nervous, restless or tense
• Having a sense of panic or doom
• Rapid breathing
• Sweating
• Trembling
• Feeling tired or weak
• Trouble sleeping
• Trouble concentrating
• Gastrointestinal issues
• Having difficulty controlling worry

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you should consider speaking with a trained professional. At the same time, you can help manage anxiety through diet, exercise, relaxation, deep breathing, positive self-talk and keeping your mind in the present. It’s essential to have coping skills in place, so you’re prepared when stressful situations hit at work.

More than ever, employers (including hospitals) are implementing programs to support staff with stress, depression and emotional issues including:

  •    Nurse mentor programs: Training for first-time travel nurses and emotional support when a new nurse makes a mistake, deals with an angry patient or workplace bullying. 
  •    Stress reduction classes: These focus on deep breathing, mindful meditation and biofeedback. 
  •    Perks and programs to promote good mental health: From low-cost neck massages to ice cream socials to serenity rooms and welcoming floor décor, these simple tools and tricks can improve an employee’s well-being.

Create a Personal Stress Strategy
After a harrowing day, the worst thing you can do is drown your stress in alcohol, junk food or medications. Experienced travel nurses suggest finding a workout pal, taking a Tai-Chi or yoga class, getting a massage, meeting up with new work friends to explore a museum or local attraction, taking in a play or walking in the park. If you can, take a mental health day or plan a fun weekend excursion.

Here are a few simple changes you can make to help reduce anxiety:

  •    Set reasonable expectations for your performance. You can’t always be a superhero.  Set priorities and goals for each day, stay focused, calm and organized. When in doubt, ask for help. And be ready to offer help to your fellow nurses.
  •    In addition to talking about your anxiety with friends and family, think creatively about how you can reduce stress stimuli and ask your nurse supervisor how they might handle the situation. 
  •    Practice good communication skills and keep a journal. Write down what makes you anxious and three things you can do to change your response to stress or what clear, positive statement you might say to the source of your stress.

Knowledge is Power
When you’re an AMH Healthcare travel nurse, you’re never alone thanks to our team support.

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