Dealing with stress entails recognizing that most people that a nurse comes into contact with, including him or herself, is experiencing some level of stress. Stress can come from home, from work, from illness, or any number of other important arenas in an individual’s life. Recognizing the signs of stress includes knowing what social, mental, physiological, and communicative signs represent stress; beyond the recognition of stress comes the need to understand why an individual is stressed and what is causing that stress. Nurses have the double taks of managing their own stress as well as that of their coworkers, patients, and families of patients. Coping with self stress can include relaxation techniques, removing the stressors, or delegating tasks to lighten a workload. Assisting others who are dealing with stress can be a challenge. Suggesting a family member take a break from a patient’s bedside or helping a coworker with medication distribution can reduce the stress of others.

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Nurses can assist with community-wide stress reduction techniques by being a voice for implementing stress-reduction techniques. Also, being a good example of how to live life with appropriate levels of stress or dealing with an overburden of stress in a productive way sets a good example for community members.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is “a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event – either experiencing it or witnessing it” (Definition, 2015, n.p.). It carries with it symptoms of anxiety and elevates stress. One example is that of war veterans who saw violent deaths. They have nightmares and deal with flashbacks. Another example is a child who witnesses domestic violence against a parent. The child may become very anxious and stressed.

Relieving stress can include removing the stressor, meditation, relaxation, exercise, anti-anxiety medications, therapy, and support of family and friends. Many of these techniques work because they help the individual that he or she is not alone in their stress. Others work to change the physiology of the body.

  • Definition. (2015). Diseases and conditions: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from