During Licensed Practical Nurse, or LPN, training, you are prepared for many aspects of working as an LPN. One topic that doesn't get nearly as much attention as it should is job-related stress. Even though LPNs are constantly warned about the demanding nature of their work, they are often woefully unprepared for the daily stressors that go along with performing this type of work.
Unfortunately, LPNs who don't learn how to cope effectively with on-the-job stress are unlikely to stick with the profession for very long. There is no way to completely eliminate stress from this type of work. The good news, however, is that there are plenty of ways to reduce the impact that stress has on you. As you gain more experience as an LPN, you will naturally become stronger and better capable of managing stress. Until then, though, familiarize yourself with the best techniques for coping with stress as an LPN.
6 Tips for Coping with Stress as an LPN
In a perfect world, an LPN's job would be predictable and easy to manage. In reality, however, no two days are exactly alike. Because the work involves being on your feet for long hours and working directly and closely with patients who are often not feeling well, it is easy to become overwhelmed by everything. LPNs who learn techniques for coping with stress before starting their jobs tend to have a much easier time than those who don't prepare themselves in this way.
Keep these six tips in mind to avoid letting stress get the better of you as an LPN:
- Be Organized - When you can't find what you need when you need it, you are likely to be plunged right into feelings of stress and anxiety. Given the often fast-paced nature of LPN work, it is crucial to know where everything is at any given moment. With this in mind, stay organized by keeping your work station neat and tidy. Every morning, do a quick inventory of your supplies to ensure that you have everything that you need for the day. When you don't spend much of your time searching for what you need, you will feel a lot more relaxed and in control.
- Prioritize - It is easy to feel overwhelmed when you have so many things to take care of. In fact, you may not know where to start. That's where learning how to prioritize really comes in handy. Think of it like triage of sorts. At the start of every shift, sit down and review what needs to be accomplished that day. Do the most important things first to ensure that they get done before your shift is over and save the less important things for later. You will feel less harried when you know you've already taken care of the most crucial things, and you are less likely to fall behind, which can make you feel even more stressed.
- Exercise - Stress reactions cause a release of cortisol, which can exacerbate feelings of stress and create a vicious cycle. It helps to counteract that stress hormone with some feel-good hormones, and you'll get plenty of those by getting a little exercise. Get into the habit of engaging in some sort of exercise before or after work. If possible, go for a walk during your lunch break or do some yoga or other exercises at your work station. Even five short minutes of movement can make a huge difference, so make exercise a top priority while working as an LPN.
- Meditate - Meditation is very helpful for those who work in stressful environments. If you have never done it before, don't worry. Instructions are readily available, and you can always attend a meditation workshop if necessary. This will come in handy during your shifts as an LPN. When things get really chaotic and stressful, you can always step aside for a minute or two to breathe deeply and calmly. Something as simple as breathing deeply to the count of 10 can make a huge difference, as it forces you to slow down and take stock of what needs to be done.
- Eat Well - Oftentimes, we confuse hunger and thirst for stress. If you get too hungry or thirsty during your shift, you will have a harder time coping with the stresses of the job. Don't wait until you feel thirsty or hungry to do something about it. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and sip from it regularly. Eat a healthy meal before your shift and keep healthy snacks handy for times when you need a little pick-me-up. Don't skip meals during your shift just to get work done faster, as it will most likely backfire on you.
- Talk it Out - Finally, one of the best ways to deal with stress in general is by simply talking it out with someone. Ideally, your employer will assign you a mentor to whom you can turn for help when needed. With any luck, you will feel comfortable enough with this person to sit and vent to them when the need arises. You can also always just find a coworker or two who you get along with and unburden yourself to them from time to time as well. Many times, getting even seemingly minor complaints off your chest can wipe away feelings of stress and make you feel more capable of performing your job properly.
Stress is the top enemy of any licensed practical nurse, as it can wreak havoc on their ability to perform their job effectively. All LPNs encounter stress on the job, but there is no need to resign yourself to feeling lousy all the time. By keeping the above tips in mind, you'll be able to cope with stress better and, in turn, be a more effective LPN.