Health & Wellness

How to Minimize Stress as an Executive Nurse Leader

Performing as an executive nurse leader is a little different from when qualifying as an RN and taking on your first nursing role. The burdens of leadership are real. The higher-level planning and decision making, which you were probably not aware of as an RN requires accepting responsibility for making assessments and moving ahead based on what you determine are best for the nurses and the healthcare organization. 

If you’re trying to grow your career and already have a master’s in Nursing, then studying for an online DNP might be something you’re currently considering. In which case, this article explores the stress and how to manage it should be relevant to you. 

Leading from the Top Nurse Leader

Leading from the top is a familiar concept to many people, but it isn’t very easy actually to pull off. The basic concept is that what you do trickles down to the people within your team and their staff too. As such, when you’re disorganized, hectic, forgetful, or have poor attention to detail, you shouldn’t be surprised if people under your management display similar tendencies or traits in their working life. 

By contrast, when you display qualities that work well in your job but also serve as a guide to other nurses as to how to conduct themselves, it’s more likely that they’ll follow suit. Understand that you set the standard. The nursing team will look up to you as their leader. They’ll also see the results of your executive decisions and how it is changing the organization for the better. 

Also, appreciate that “the buck stops with you.” Leaders who make mistakes and won’t own them suffer a loss of trust from the people they lead or manage. You must walk the talk and be responsible. 

Work/Life Balance for Everyone

At the executive level, the traditional nursing role differs from what it is for the typical RN or nurse leader with a master’s degree that is in a management position. When deciding on the strategic direction and what changes should be made to policies to improve patient care, not all the work is necessarily directly tied to fixed working hours. Because of this, it’s possible to take the work home with you.

Don’t Only Think About Your Work/Life Balance

An executive nursing leader will often have a team of people she or he works with. Discussing ideas with them, delegating responsibilities, and reporting back to you is commonplace. However, when taking work home on a laptop and catching up with work emails in the evening or weekend, it can make your team feel like they don’t get to unplug and de-stress from work. 

Use Tools Effectively to Stay Productive When You Want

If you’re wanting to prepare emails but send them during working hours, then there are tools to help with this. One of them is Boomerang for Gmail, where you can compose emails and send them later. Received emails can be removed from your inbox and returned to it in a day or two to avoid interrupting your downtime. 

Staying Organized as a Way to Avoid Stress

While working in an ad-hoc and occasionally haphazard or chaotic manner may have worked in previous jobs, it certainly won’t be appropriate for a senior nursing management position. In fact, the opposite is true. 

Once having completed a Doctor in Nursing Practice with executive nurse leadership at its core, everyone will be looking to you. The pressure can be overwhelming, yet it doesn’t have to be that way. 

By being organized with projects, task lists, and meetings, it’s possible to keep on top of everything. And by being disciplined in this way. It creates a sense of calm when working through any problems that arise too. 

Balancing Other Responsibilities

Avoiding bringing life stress into the workplace is another factor to consider. We all have other responsibilities that demand our time, attention, and deplete our energy reserves. 

Some of the things that can become more consuming outside the healthcare field include:

1. Family time – Love them as we might, some families put extra pressure upon us. This is especially true with elderly parents or those for whom drama and problems seem to land on other family members’ laps frequently.

2. Relationships – A difficult romantic relationship can create an unstable home life even if you don’t intend this to be the case. A divorce is also very stressful to deal with should this occur.

3. Children – Our children are our world. Nevertheless, the time demands and levels of distraction when at home can be a stressor. 

It is either necessary to manage our lives outside of the work environment in such a way to minimize disruption or to remove stressors actively. Unfortunately, this may include relationships that have become more trouble than they’re worth. 

Having a Life Outside of Nursing

When overly focused on your career to the exclusion of creating a life for yourself outside of it, this can be problematic. Caring for others while feeling lonely and separated from society as a whole isn’t a winning solution. 

It’s vital that leaders take time for themselves to pursue activities that they personally enjoy. This could be going trekking in the summer months with a group of friends or taking up tennis or swimming to stay active and healthy. 

Developing hobbies is personally rewarding. Often, the more separated it is from your everyday life. The greater recovery you get from diving into a favorite pastime. Some of the most successful people at work who arrive refreshed on a Monday morning ready for an awesome week have multiple hobbies. They may share them with colleagues or never talk about them. 

Minimizing stress as a nurse leader is not only about what you do on the job; how you lead your life outside of the work environment is just as important. Otherwise, a mismanaged personal life tends to bleed into areas of your working life in unpleasant ways. Fortunately, on the flip side, when you create a stable personal life that is exciting and rewarding, then you can approach your work in a calm, focused manner that usually will deliver better results. 


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