Nursing has long been considered one of the most stressful professions. Factors that have increased the levels of stress since the 1980s include the use of more complicated technology, budget constraints, increased workload and constant organizational changes in certain healthcare environments.

At grassroots, a very hectic day for a nurse pretty much redefines the word “stress.” That’s why it can be so hard to assess the level of tension you’ve reached at any given moment of your workday.

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To help you evaluate your state of mind, and see your way to a less stressful time, here is a ‘stress-o-meter’ by which you can rate yourself from 1 to 10—”1″ being fairly chilled and a “9” or “10” being something close to a nuclear bomb about to explode.

You’re at a 0:

Also known as “the unicorn state.” For obvious reasons. Unicorns don’t exist, and neither does registering a zero on this ‘stress-o-meter’.

Classifying yourself as a “0” on the ‘stress-o-meter’ indicates a full night’s rest, several days’ worth of lavishly prepared meals and real, exercise-induced energy. Possibly post-vacation.

Anyway, this is the most accurate depiction of “0” we could find. But it’s not human: not nursing human anyway.

You’re at a “1”

If you’re at a “1” on the ‘stress-o-meter’, the day is but a puppy. Or you’re a lottery winner…on a sunny day.

At “1,” not only is the day young, but you also have fresh coffee, a parking spot near the entrance and your favorite people are shifted with you today. So, things almost perfect, even though you forgot your lunch at home…

You’re at a “2”

You see that the waiting room is full, but nobody is actively bleeding, and one mother (with unusually well-behaved children) even smiles at you. You aren’t too intimidated by an otherwise daunting sea of faces.

One might even say you’re ready to face the challenges of the day.

You’re at a “3”

So, all those fun and efficient people you thought you were working with? Several of those folks are out of action for whatever reason today and you’re now officially short-staffed.

You’ve seen worse times, but the seemingly blissful workday of a moment ago has definitely suffered a setback. Determined to finish the last of your coffee before things get messy, you see that you have been sipping at decaf…

You’re at a “4”

Your first patient, complaining of persistent nausea, is one of those unusually well-behaved children you spotted earlier. You’re grateful for a calm, perhaps even pleasant start. No tantrum as you examine the angelic child…Mom is chatty but mostly unperturbed.

Adorable patient spews projectile vomit on you. Mom is no longer unperturbed.

Could the shift be going south?

You’re at a “5”

You’re moving as fast as those slip-resistant sneakers will carry you, but you’re failing to keep up with the ever-increasing list of patients. It’s like being stuck in a really bad dream—only you need to sleep to dream, and you can’t expect to do that for the next 17 hours (at least).

You’re at a “6”

Ok, this is a state of mild panic. Also known as the “stress-eating” phase, should you manage to find four minutes in the break room with anything edible.

Good thing it was somebody’s birthday…a week ago. The frosting on the cake tastes a little rancid but hey, it’s sugar.

You’re at a “7”

The beeping does not stop.

You’re trying to keep your wits about you, but you feel like you are having an out-of-body experience and the hospital (and possibly your world) is crumbling around you. Can it just stop for a bit!

You’re at an “8”

An hour ago, you thought the hospital was crumbling around you.

Now, it is. You are battling to prioritize, focus and keep your s%&# together. Deep breaths are helping but just until that moment where someone pushes you over the edge. And it is usually a little thing…and the eye starts to twitch.

You’re at a “9”

A patient who was comfortably sleeping just minutes ago has fallen out of bed, a patient’s current and former wives have turned the waiting room into a cage fight and, worst of all, your shoe has broken, and the strap is flailing around your foot as you limp to keep it on your foot.   

You’re at a “10”

A “10” might be the highest mark of agitation on the stress-o-meter, but at a “10,” your state of mind is surprisingly calm. You have moved into a state of catatonia. You have crossed over from all the mania, and you are now dealing with everything as it rolls in. As you do.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we are convinced that nurses really are the ultimate humans. Where is your stress level at?
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