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How to Manage the Stress of Nursing

How to manage the stress of nursing.

The life of a nurse can be extremely hectic. Your job is stressful and fast-paced, involving long hours helping others. You also may have personal responsibilities outside of your job. Going back to school to earn your MSN degree can add even more stress, and it can be easy to let the stress of nursing get to you. To manage all of this, it is important to find ways to achieve peace and relaxation when you feel overwhelmed.

Take Baby Steps

Juggling multiple responsibilities at a hectic pace is only possible for a short while. When you add MSN coursework, time management becomes even more important. To balance your responsibilities, try taking just one small step at a time. For example, rather than trying to complete an entire assignment in one sitting, block off just 15 or 30 minutes at a time. By breaking a project into its parts, your efforts will quickly accumulate, and you will accomplish more than you might have expected with less stress.

Make a List

It is easy to get stuck when looking at so many tasks at once; you might not know where to begin. At times like this, write down a list of three small tasks to get you started. Once you have knocked a few items off your list, you will feel less stressed and more motivated to keep going. Keep making short lists like this as you go. The key is just to get started, then keep moving forward. You will find this works in all aspects of your life.

Reach Out

As a nurse, you are used to caring for others. It can be difficult for people who are most comfortable as caregivers to receive or ask for help. However, everyone needs a helping hand at some point, especially when dealing with a job and nursing school stress. When you feel overwhelmed by all you need to do, reach out and ask others for help. Each situation requires help from different people. Ask mentors, family members, friends and neighbors.

Maintain Healthy Boundaries

The word “no” is short yet powerful, and although you may not want to, you should use it. Sometimes people get overwhelmed by saying “yes” to too many activities and responsibilities, and that can lead to burnout. As someone who has already said “yes” to two meaningful pursuits — a nursing career and a degree program — you need to find ways to simplify your routine and start saying “no” to nonessential activities. Do this within reason and whenever practical, and you will still be able to say “yes” to essential activities.

Stress is very common, especially for those who are working and completing a master’s degree program, such as an online MSN program. Do not let the stress of nursing get the best of you. Practice the strategies outlined here, and watch the stress fade away.

Learn more about the UT Arlington online RN to MSN program.


Sherman, R. O. (2016, April 21). 5 Things to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed. Emerging RN Leader

How to Cope with Stress on the Job. (2014, June). American Nurse Association

10 Strategies to Cope with Stress in Nursing. (2012, September 14). NurseTogether

Holistic Stress Management for Nurses. (n.d.). American Holistic Nurses Association

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