Tips on handling workplace stress from an emergency room nurse

Open this photo in gallery:

The workplace can be stressful for nurses in the ER since they never know what kinds of patients will be walking through the door.vm/Getty Images

Content from The Globe’s weekly Women and Work newsletter, part of The Globe’s Women’s Collective. To subscribe, click here.

Ask Women and Work

Question: I’ve recently taken on a new job in a high-pressure environment where I have overlapping responsibilities. I love my job, but I’m having trouble staying organized and keeping my emotions under control when things get really hectic. Any tips on how to stay calm in high-stress situations?

We asked Alexandrea Bearzot, registered nurse (RN) and wellness lead for nurses in the emergency department (ER) at Toronto’s Michael Garron Hospital, to tackle this one:

I think managing stress in the workplace comes down to two factors that are equally important: the things you do in the workplace and things you do outside of the workplace.

One of the most important things that helps me in the workplace is the support of my colleagues. I know if I’m overwhelmed or stressed or unsure about something, I can always talk to a colleague and know that it’s okay. Even the most experienced doctors, the most experienced nurses, they’ll ask for help. They’ll rely on a colleague for something that they don’t know. So it’s important to know you don’t have to know everything or deal with everything on your own; you can rely on the support of your colleagues.

When it comes to keeping the emotions under control, I find that taking a moment to centre myself has always helped with this. That can mean going to the washroom or another space to take a few seconds to breathe. If I have the time, I will call my mom or a friend or a colleague and take that moment to centre myself before I go back to the situation. This is obviously situation-dependent, because if I’m in the middle of a code [cardiopulmonary arrest], I can’t say, ‘I need a second to myself.’ But you can always do it afterwards, which is a great time to reflect on how you took care of the situation. What did you do right? What do you want to improve on? Maybe you need to ask a colleague for a refresher on how to deal with this, and next time you’ll know how to do it better.

The second part of dealing with stress is what you do outside of work. I like that analogy about filling up your cup. For me, this is about finding an outlet to release my stress. I like exercising and running, and it can also be helpful to talk to a therapist, hang out with friends, catch up on sleep. Find what works for you so you can release that stress and come back to work feeling more energized.

It’s also important to have boundaries. For example, on my days off I’ll often be called to work overtime. Sometimes I’m just too tired, and that’s okay. Or, if your friends want to hang out but you just need a night to yourself, you can make that boundary for yourself.

I think an overarching theme here is having self-compassion. You know that you’re working in a stressful environment and you’re going to be dealing with these feelings that come along with stress, like sadness and anger. You’re not alone in feeling that way. Maybe people don’t say it, but they’re definitely feeling it, too. Put your ego aside. Nobody’s perfect, and you’re allowed to make mistakes. Look back on a time that you did succeed and know that you can do it again.

Take care of yourself. Ask for help. You’ll get through it.

Submit your own questions to Ask Women and Work by e-mailing us at [email protected].

This week’s must-read stories on women and work

Unmanaged menopause symptoms cost the economy billions. Why aren’t we talking about it more?

Shirley Weir started to notice the symptoms of menopause in her early 40s.

“I was waking up every morning at 3 a.m. [and] I had brain fog that was debilitating,” she said during a webcast on World Menopause Day (October 18) hosted by The Globe Women’s Collective. “It was impacting my ability to run a business, look after young children and look after my aging mother.”

But when she approached her doctor and tried to do research online, she found the information she was getting was confusing and conflicting. “There was no community, no place where I could go and say, ‘This is trustworthy, this is verified,’” said Ms. Weir, who reached menopause by age 49.

So, she decided to create that space herself – an online and in-person educational community called Menopause Chicks. Her story is emblematic of how many Canadian women (and people of other genders who menstruate) are having to take their menopause journeys into their own hands because of stigma, lack of information and lack of critical supports around menopause.

Read how women can take control of their menopause journey.

Career accelerator program aims to boost women in animation industry

As a child, Sunita Balsara dreamed of becoming an aerospace engineer. When she got to Grade 9, however, she realized mathematics was not her friend.

“I was lucky enough to have an animation class in high school, though. I was kind of obsessed with it,” she says in a Zoom interview. She was that kid who always doodled on the page in class and went “way overboard” for the short film she needed to submit for her final assignment. “My teacher was like, ‘You know you can do this for a job.’ It didn’t sound real. I thought she was making that up.”

Her Mississauga high school teacher helped Balsara to convince her parents to let her enroll in Sheridan College’s bachelor of arts program, which led to a position with Nelvana Studios, working on shows such as Bubble Guppies, Thomas & Friends and Corn & Peg. She also published twice in indie comic anthologies.

Read how the immersive Animation Career Excel-erator (ACE) initiative helps women like Ms. Balsara rise in the ranks of the animation industry.

Barbra Streisand, the ‘most lied-about woman in the world,’ is setting the record straight

Pierre Trudeau gasped when she came down the stairs of 24 Sussex Dr. in a fur-trimmed white Scaasi gown. Bob Dylan wrote Lay Lady Lay about his lust for her. The Aerosmith classic I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing was inspired by something her husband cooed in her ear. Stephen Sondheim revised his songs to suit her. The lyricist Don Black (To Sir with Love) called her voice “liquid diamonds.” An Emmy/Grammy/Oscar/Tony winner, she’s a medalist of Arts and Freedom, Star of many a Year and Decade, an honorary doctor and Living Legend. She’s won awards Crystal, Golden and Silver, and honours named for Gracie Allen, Charlie Chaplin, George Eastman, Cecil B. DeMille and the Pied Piper. She’s the only artist with number-one albums (10 of them) in six different decades, and she’ll likely stay that way because, well, albums. She has a nose like an Egyptian goddess, a reputation for perfectionism, and a last name, Streisand, that she doesn’t need. She’s Barbra.

Read Ms. Streisand’s thoughts on stage fright, feeling “unloved and unlovely” and fulfilling her potential.

In case you missed it

Indigenous content creators leverage big followings on TikTok to boost their businesses

If you’ve ever bought something after an influencer shared it on Instagram or eaten in a restaurant because you saw someone rave about it on TikTok, you understand how social media has transformed the way the world does business.

These platforms have created untold opportunity for creators and business owners, particularly those who might be under-represented in more traditional spheres.

Case in point? The four Indigenous creators you’ll meet below, who have harnessed the power of social media – in particular TikTok, the fastest-growing social app – to grow their ventures while also celebrating their cultures and heritage.

Read the full article.

From the archives

Women in the sandwich generation are overworked, exhausted and missing out on career opportunities

Lori Wilson recently took a leave from work to deal with the stress of caregiving for her mother and two teenage daughters.

Her mother was diagnosed with hepatic encephalopathy caused by liver disease that, without treatment, could result in her mother either becoming aggressive or slipping into a coma. Her mother moved in with her family two years ago – just before the pandemic hit.

In addition, Ms. Wilson’s adopted teenaged daughters both struggle with mental health issues, creating a perfect storm of pressure from all sides.

“What broke me was that there were too many things happening all at once,” says Ms. Wilson, a planning manager at a Toronto hospital.

Given the rise in mental health issues among children over the course of the pandemic, alongside a rapidly aging population, caregivers in the sandwich generation have been socially isolated and facing huge pressures these last few years.

Read the full article.

Open this photo in gallery:

Interested in more perspectives about women in the workplace? Find all stories on The Globe Women’s Collective hub here, and subscribe to the new Women and Work newsletter here. Have feedback? E-mail us at [email protected].


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *