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Study

How Nurses Can Avoid Taking Patients’ Anxiety on Themselves

August 3, 2021

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The simple ability to address and take care of patient concerns is one of the most important characteristics of healthcare professionals including nurses. There are many times when the patient’s concerns can be emotional due to the anxiety related to diseases, other personal problems, or even simple things such as doctor visits.   In these cases, nurses must know the methods to cope with these anxieties while offering and ensuring better patient care delivery and self-care as well. With the prevalence of anxiety in many patients and potentially adverse effects on seeking medical care, nurses are trained to avoid taking patients’ anxiety on themselves. This is taught to nurses who are completing their nursing courses in Canada and the professionals who are newly hired.  Since nurses are the healthcare professionals responsible for offering first-hand care, it is only imperative that they are knowledgeable in handling these situations. 

Common Causes of Patient Anxiety: 

Many patients feel uncomfortable before going in for their treatments. This discomfort is also seen during small medical tests and procedures. Although this is considered normal, sometimes these feelings can trigger stress responses that affect the patient’s overall outlook, the healing process, and healing capabilities.  The cause of patient anxiety varies from one person to another. For example, surgical patients may feel anxious about the reason for surgery while some others may fear the unknown while going for a diagnostic test. Some other common concerns include feeling a loss of control and the helplessness of relying on others. For some patients, just being in an unknown place can also become the cause of stress.  In all of these situations, a nurse plays the role of the main point of contact for patients. The simple need to promote calmness and offer to understand becomes their part of the job. Although practicing nursing in abroad offers nurses a much better perspective on what works best in some situations. Some ways that can be kept in mind to avoid taking on the patients’ anxiety are:  1. Breathing Exercises: One of the simplest ways for nurses to manage their anxiety is to practice controlled breathing. With deep conscious breathing, nurses can slow down their minds, hearts, and body while countering the side effects of stress.  Anytime when a situation seems to become overwhelming in managing the patients, nurses can remind themselves to breathe consciously. With controlled breaths, nurses can remind themselves that they have to protect their energy while dealing with anxious patients.  It is important for nurses to remember in the process of helping the patient overcome anxiousness; they cannot afford to catch it. This is something that will be possible only when nurses know a way to calm themselves down at the moment. Deep breathing is one of the proven ways to protect one’s energy and gain conscious control of the surroundings.  2. Guided Imagination: This is another technique that has similar effects just as in breathing exercises. It is based on the notion of a mind-body connection in which, the mental focus eases the symptoms of anxiety, heart rate, respiration, and also lowers blood pressure.  If the nurses feel that they are getting affected while dealing with an anxious patient, they can take some time out and slow down. Nurses can take a break and spend some time picturing something in incredible detail so that they feel peaceful.   This is a quick technique that helps in letting a person be at peace while making a person feel comfortable almost instantly. For example, imagining calm environments such as a beach or a garden can produce instant calming effects for stressed nurses. This technique can also be used by nurses to calm their patients.  3. Physical Wellness: Nurses must understand that maintaining their physical health is important. While performing everyday medical examinations, administering medications, and offering the best patient care all day long, it can become particularly difficult to keep one’s body healthy.  If the body is not healthy, one can feel demotivated to carry on working, which might result in anxiousness of not being up to the mark. Nurses are prone to health problems if they do not take out the time to take care of their physical health. They are vulnerable to gaining weight as well.  The physicality of the job that they do is stretched to a point that they can eat more and exercise less. Their body clock tends to be disrupted and leads to a less healthy lifestyle. By becoming a little more active and consuming a healthy diet, nurses can put their health first.  Although this is not an easy thing to accomplish but once a person decides to stay on guard and manage to do this successfully, the body will move towards wellness. Besides the body, healthy eating habits also help in maintaining a good state of mind and ultimately being successful at the nursing job.  4. Maintaining Sharp Mental Focus: A tenet to become successful at nursing abroad is to take care of one’s mind. An attitude to keep learning, particularly for nurses is a great way to challenge the brain with mental exercise.  Prioritizing the brain which is the largest and the most complex organ of the body is one of the important parts of the self-care attitude. As frontline healthcare professionals, nurses must ensure to share knowledge with their colleagues and share suggestions for improving the work environment.  5. Care and Compassion for the Self: Compassion and kindness are the most important elements for providing good nursing care. From the time nurses start their nursing education to when they graduate, get hired, and are promoted, they get reminded to treat their patients with compassion.  However, if a nurse is experiencing serious fatigue because of dealing with anxious patients then the capacity to provide compassion reduces greatly. Often, nurses keep showering their compassion and empathy to anxiety-ridden patients without taking any time to replenish themselves.   To avoid taking patients’ anxiety, nurses should practice empathy, kindness, and compassion for themselves as well. This is because when they do not have anything left to give, they will be prone to problems like burnout, depression, and anxiety. They may also see some stress inflicted on their nursing units and a lack of investment in work which places both the patients and nurses at risk.   Hence, whenever there is a need, nurses should remind themselves to treat themselves with compassion and empathy so that ultimately they can do the same for others. 

Conclusion: 

Nurses are often more inclined to put self-care on the back foot as they go about caring for their patients. As a nurse, providing care comes as a natural instinct and so, these healthcare providers just keep going and in the process, they risk inflicting the patient’s anxiety on themselves.  To ensure that this does not take a toll on their health and productivity, nurses must be encouraged to adjust their mind-sets and focus on self-care. 

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