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How can I manage stress without letting my team down?

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I am under a lot of stress at work, as are others. I do not want to take sick leave as I am dedicated to work and feel obliged to support my team. What can I do?

It is generally accepted that stress can energise and stimulate us but it can also frustrate and exhaust us.

The reality is that stress levels in nursing are getting higher, partly due to increased workloads in the modern NHS. Employers are becoming more aware of this and often have strategies and facilities in place for helping staff, such as confidential counselling services.

Some of us are more susceptible than others, and different things cause stress in different people.

Here are a few tips to help you handle stress in the workplace.

It is always helpful, although not always easy, to try to identify the cause of your stress. Trying to work out what the problem is can be a useful starting point. It could simply be the workload, the attitude of colleagues, concerns about your personal life or other issues. Give this some thought and write down the issues you have come up with.

Next, think about discussing your stress and possible causes with a family member, close friend or colleague. This can help provide some relief, as well as some possible solutions. On a more formal level, many organisations provide counselling services that are totally confidential. Check this out – it will help you work out a detailed course of action.

Physical exercise is well known for helping to relieve stress. Make use of your gym subscription if you have one. Or you could go for a walk in your break or walk to and from work if that is practical.

Diet can be important. Go for foods that give you energy such as fresh fruit, and avoid using alcohol to relieve stress.

If possible take a short relaxation break. Take a few minutes, close your eyes and take deep breaths if you feel particularly stressed.

Sometimes, staff do not appear to have time for their official breaks. If this is the case, it needs to be discussed in your team.

The main thing is not to suffer this alone. Using the above strategies will go some way to identifying the cause of and relieving your stress.

Chris Pearce, formerly a director of nursing, is a life coach with lifegoalspecialists.co.uk

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