How to Handle Stress as a CNA

Some people are uncertain about becoming a certified nursing assistant when they hear that the job can be very stressful.  Don’t let this discourage you- nursing is a very rewarding and valuable career with far more benefits than stress.  The trick to being successful is knowing how to deal with the stresses that come with the job.

The first step is to understand your stress level- you have to recognize when you are becoming stressed before it becomes unmanageable.  Knowing what the warning signs of stress are can help prevent you from feeling depressed, angry, or burned out.  Warning signs can include fatigue, changes in appetite or sleep, headaches or migraines, sleeplessness, crying, chest pains, and difficulty focusing.  If you start to feel these symptoms, you need to evaluate your stress level.

Once you have determined what is causing you stress, you need to learn how to manage situations so that they do not become exceptionally stressful.  One way to help deal with situations that are very stressful is to separate yourself from the situation long enough for you to take a break, clear your mind, and then reorient to the problem.

Keeping your stress level down before you are involved in a stressful situation can help you remain calm and focused.  Begin by getting enough sleep, and on as regular a schedule as you can manage.  Find ways to relax when you are away from work.  You need to learn how to leave your job at work.  Many people find it relaxing to spend the first half hour after they are home from work meditating, praying, or doing yoga or deep breathing exercises.  The more you can separate yourself from the stress inducing situation, the better your body will be able to recover.

Try to remember that many things are out of your control, so it does you no good to worry about them.  You can control your reactions, so focus on those instead.  When you are overwhelmed, start with the smallest problem you can, and solve that.  It will help you to feel that you will have control over the situation when you have made progress on a single problem.  Start taking good care of your body physically as well.  Eating foods that keep you feeling light and healthy will help you to reduce stress because your body feels good and is functioning well.  Eat regular meals, and try to eat them properly.  Sit down at a table, eat your food slowly, and enjoy the down time.  If possible, eat with friends or family to make the experience more enjoyable.  A good exercise program is another requirement for a healthy lifestyle.  You need to keep your body active so that you can handle the physical demands of your job.  This doesn’t mean that you need to spend hours in the gym, many healthy exercise programs such as yoga classes or even leisurely walks can help you stay in shape and be relaxing.

Another thing that can help you deal with stress is to have someone to talk to about your feelings.  This can be a friend, a mentor, a family member, or a coworker.  Make sure that you do not use this time to complain, but instead to be constructive in your discussions.  Be positive; remember that what you are doing is very important and that stress is only temporary.

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