Many factors can contribute to stress for nurses. Here are some ways to reduce the impact.

A group of student nurses sit around tables with laoptops in front of them.

The role of a nurse is to provide care and comfort to patients. Yet several factors associated with providing this care can have negative effects on nurses. When you look at the multifaceted roles in nursing, it’s clear the degree of stress can be high. Most nursing students have their first experiences with occupational stress during their nursing school clinical practices. Some of the primary contributors include:*

  • The rigors of providing patient care.
  • Intensive physical labor.
  • Witnessing human suffering.
  • Making difficult decisions.
  • Addressing staffing issues.
  • Long work hours.
  • A constantly changing environment.
  • Navigating interpersonal relationships.

Today, online BSN and other nursing degree programs teach strategies to help nurses cope with the daily stresses of the job. The following are 10 common approaches:*

  1. Take advantage of nursing mentors or buddy programs to engage in joint problem-solving.

  2. Maintain a regular exercise program and good nutrition.

  3. Participate in outside hobbies for recreation.

  4. Attend stress reduction classes for easy-to-implement techniques. Many are available as online learning courses, webinars, or even YouTube videos.

  5. Nursing recognition and reward programs can provide a much-needed morale boost, whether you’re the one to receive or provide positive feedback.

  6. Enroll in an online nursing degree or certificate program in a specialty area that interests you. Continuing education builds job confidence and reduces anxiety.

  7. Engage in spiritual or faith-based practices, which can help maintain focus and equilibrium.

  8. Find or create a joint space for relaxation. Social support and interaction with peers can reduce the degree of stress while building the nursing community.

  9. Strive to engage as a leader—regardless of actual rank—in order to foster stronger team communications.

  10. Attend employee assistance programs designed to prevent nursing burnout.

President Barack Obama once said that “America’s nurses are the beating heart of our medical system.”ǂ It’s a great reminder of the importance of taking care of nurses, so that they, in turn, will be at their best to care for everyone else.

If you’re an RN interested in earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN), online learning may be a great option. The School of Nursing at Walden University offers CCNE-accredited programs to help you prepare to play a vital role in healthcare and in the lives of others.


*The National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses, Chapter 26, Work Stress and Burnout Among Nurses: Role of the Work Environment and Working Conditions, on the Internet at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2668.

†Health Leaders Media, Seven Strategies to Reduce Nursing Burnout, 2010, on the Internet at www.healthleadersmedia.com/content/NRS-252471/Seven-Strategies-to-Reduce-Nurse-Burnout##.

ǂAdvance Healthcare Network, Nurses “Beating Heart of Healthcare” Obama Tells ANA Delegates, 2010, on the Internet at www.nursing.advanceweb.com/News/National-News/Nurses-Beating-Heart-of-Healthcare-Obama-Tells-ANA-Delegates.aspx.

Walden University’s DNP, MSN, and BSN programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington, D.C. 20036, 1-202-887-6791. CCNE is a national accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate and graduate education programs in preparing effective nurses. For students, accreditation signifies program innovation and continuous self-assessment.