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Handling Anger Before It Handles You

Everyone has moments of anger, but it is how those feelings are dealt with that dictates the immediate future. If, for example, the first patient of the day yells at his nurse, it may send her day into a downward spiral--not only affecting the nurse, but her coworkers, her other patients, and just about anyone else she comes in contact with at the workplace.

Stress and Anger in the Workplace

Most people experience anger at one point or another in the workplace--a demanding boss, sloppy co-workers, or cranky customers can take their toll in any career. Unfortunately for many nurses, these factors are a regular part of their job.

Patients who are hurt, scared, or frustrated can easily become angry, often taking it out on their nurses. Budget cutbacks and nursing shortages mean many nurses feel overworked. Overtime, missed breaks, and bureaucratic administrative structures all can contribute to feelings of anger among nurses.

Additionally, research demonstrates that nurses commonly feel angry when they think that their supervisors aren't supporting their decisions or aren't being responsive to their concerns. Not surprisingly, nurses who feel like they are part of cohesive unit at work experience less burnout and stress.

Tips for Managing Anger

Coworkers and bosses cannot be controlled, but individuals can learn how to address and manage their own emotions. If frustrated feeling start building up, the best response a nurse can have is to stop for a few moments to refocus. No matter how busy a nurse may be, if a minute isn't taken to regain control, frustration and anger will only build. A few ways to address stress are:

  • Deep breathing: Deep, diaphragmatic breathing can help relieve tension and stress. Try slowly breathing in and out repeatedly.
  • Repeat a calming phrase: Repeating a mantra that is a reminder to relax, calm down, or take it easy can help move attention away from the stressful situation and on to positive thoughts.
  • Body movements: Simple movements such as rolling the head around, scrunching up the shoulders and relaxing them, stretching legs, and more will help relieve physical tension.

These tips don't resolve the issues that cause frustration or anger, but they might help avoid angry reactions. Another option to consider is taking continuing education classes in anger management. These classes cover strategies that can help nurses deal with anger in the workplace.

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