Nurse practitioners (NPs) know that concern and a sense of urgency are regularly required in health care, but it’s very common for strong emotions to morph into something more overwhelming — and for the same emotions to follow an NP out of practice settings and into private life. One of the most common and significant of these feelings is stress.

As defined by the World Health Organization, stress is “a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives.” In emergency situations, stress is necessary and even desirable. The problem occurs when stress ceases to be an important reaction to rare challenges and instead becomes constant, distracting and unrelenting. And stress doesn’t just feel bad — it’s bad for us, and the negative effects of stress on Americans in particular are well documented. In his article “Life Event, Stress and Illness” in The Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, Mohd Razali Salleh Mohd finds that “emotional stress is a major contributing factor to the six leading causes of death in the United States: cancer, coronary heart disease, accidental injuries, respiratory disorders, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.” In other words: being too busy can frustrate, but stress can kill.

Managing stress and preventing burnout takes a concerted effort to turn helpful solutions into healthy habits. This National Stress Awareness Month, The American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) has gathered resources to test for, recognize and combat stress in the workplace and at home. In this article, you will learn the difference between stress and busyness, hear advice from Dr. Mimi Secor, DNP, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, about navigating stress and find resources for reducing stress — including continuing education (CE) sessions available in-person at the 2023 AANP National Conference or on-demand from anywhere.

Click here to see the full AANP article