Nurses Need the Same Stress Management Skills as CEOs

As is evident in recent blog posts, I have been focusing on stress.

Over the past two decades, there has been a steady stream of new knowledge on ways to prevent and reduce the impact of stress based on mind-body research. The best practices consistently land on the need for development of personal knowledge and skills.

It is in our inner world where stress is wrestled with and overcome. 


The question that looms big in my mind is,

How can this knowledge about stress prevention and reduction

be integrated into nurses’ practice and lives?

Some of the most interesting literature on stress reduction happens to come from research on emotional intelligence among leaders. Maybe it’s because it’s understood that leadership roles are stressful, and that these roles are highly impactful on others.


The message is loud and clear that to be a good leader one must overcome the impact of stress through development of personal knowledge and skills. The process is not easy or quick, and is obviously a personal journey.

The more I think about the inner world of nurses and what is at stake for nurses, patients and healthcare, I am struck by the similarities between the world of leaders and that of nurses. Both are highly relational, both involve crises and threat, both require thinking and communicating ‘on their feet’ or ‘on stage’, both require multi-layered decision making, etc


Interestingly, guess what 3 things have been proven to create renewal for leaders?

  1. Hope
  2. Experiencing compassion
  3. Mindfulness

And yes, these arise through development of personal knowledge and skills.    Boyatzis & McKee

The similarities of these 3 items with caring science research and compassion fatigue research should not be surprising.images-copyWhat interests and energizes me is bringing to the forefront the following realities and solutions:

  1. A major contributor to nurses’ stress is related to nurses not focusing on their personal knowing and their personal development skills
  2. The nurses’ role and practice is uniquely personal and interpersonal
  3. Nurse leaders in healthcare organizations have not focused on, nor honored the importance of nurses’ personal knowledge and skills on patient outcomes, the patient experience, or nurses’ wellbeing
  4. Development of nurses’ personal knowledge and skills would enable authentic caring to occur more consistently, which would enrich their lives and those of patients
  5. We need more information about how to help nurses cultivate their personal development skills. Learn what is required of each nurse, our leaders and our organizations
  6. Nurse leaders need to lead this charge of  discovery and action throughout the healthcare system at large

My Call to Action –images-copy-10

Start by bringing information about stress reduction practices, used by other disciplines, to nurses that can be applied at the bedside.

Self-Help at the Bedside?

Boyatzis R, McKee A. Resonant Leadership- Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion. Boston: Harvard Business School Press; 2005.
Goleman D. Emotional Intelligence. 10th anniversary edition. New York: Bantam Books; 2005.
Goleman D. Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. New York: Harper; 2013.
Goleman D. Force For Good. New York: Bantam Books; 2016.


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