Four Ways Nurses Can Provide Emotional Support to Patients

Posted August 11, 2023 in Business, Medical, Mental Health No Comments »
nurses providing emotional support to a patient

Adjusting to prolonged hospitalization, debilitatingly painful symptoms, and scary surgical procedures gives rise to overwhelming anxiety, fear, and stress. Patients diagnosed with acute and chronic illnesses and physical disabilities struggle with innumerable negative emotions and thoughts. Nurses can use a happy and positive bedside manner to help provide emotional support to patients.

Multiple factors trigger emotional distress, including pain, physical symptoms, fear of death, isolation, dysfunctional relationships, and becoming a burden on others. While nurses cannot address or eliminate these factors, they can uplift patients by offering compassionate emotional support. Building connections and understanding each patient’s life experiences and feelings is a heartfelt labor of love. 

Let’s explore how nurses help patients overcome emotional distress and ensure a speedy recovery. 

What Are Nursing Duties?

Nurses empathetically perform their everyday patient care duties to make them feel heard and validated. These unsung healthcare superheroes go above and beyond to provide patients with calming, peaceful, and safe healing environments. Aside from alleviating physical discomfort, nurses allow patients to unload their emotional burdens by listening intently and offering comforting advice. 

  1. Offering Specialized Support with Advanced Clinical Expertise 

Nurses with advanced clinical skills and exposure make the most significant contributions when treating life-threatening physical illnesses. MSN professionals specializing in primary care and advanced practices help patients manage many complications. They possess the academic insight and specialized skills to design treatments to alleviate emotional, mental, and physical discomfort. 

Cases involving adverse symptoms and severe post-surgery reactions demand the specialized skills and clinical exposure of MSN professionals. Nursing leaders have advanced training in helping patients overcome confusion, delirium, and emotional distress with research-backed, timely interventions. By pursuing advanced certifications like post masters NP certification online, MSN specialists can make meaningful contributions. 

Balancing a full-time MSN career with a certification program can seem overwhelmingly challenging. However with an online program, you can manage your daily duties and prioritize academic advancements. Building core clinical competencies and advanced skills is the most effective strategy to make impactful contributions and innovate patient care. 

For instance, pediatric nurses can pursue primary care certifications to help children adjust to painful treatments and prolonged hospitalization. Likewise, adult gerontology nurses can pursue gerontology acute care certifications to help seniors manage emotional and physical problems with specialized techniques. Prioritizing advanced nursing education is undoubtedly the best way to support patients with multifaceted and multidisciplinary responses. 

  1. Care, Compassion & Empathy 

Patients from diverse backgrounds have unique needs, and nurses must build connections to learn about each patient. Some patients are surrounded by compassionate caregivers who keep them engaged and engrossed in discussions and games. Others are alone and isolated, waiting for estranged family members to visit them and offer comforting support. 

Nurses must tailor their emotional support responses to address the patient’s underlying concerns and unique background. Care, compassion, and empathy are the foundational forces that help nurses extend emotional support. Empathetic care demands a healthy patient-provider relationship where nurses must take multiple roles – cheerleaders, fear counselors, active listeners, non-judgmental friends, and ever-present support pillars. 

Some patients want someone to listen to their fears and worries, allowing them to empty their minds of all negative thoughts. Others wish for clarity and closure about their treatment procedures and potential outcomes. Nurses can lend emotional support by listening intently and validating the patient’s feelings. When patients feel heard and validated, they feel relaxed, safe, and more likely to feel confident about recovery. 

  1. Combatting Fear with Knowledge 

Imagine undergoing painful rounds of chemotherapy without the possibility of a guaranteed recovery and return to normalcy. Imagine performing agonizing physical therapy after a limb-crushing injury. Imagine the fear of losing your life or your ability to run and feel the wind. 

Patients are hospitalized for various ailments, illnesses, and injuries. Every disease and condition gives rise to crippling fears associated with the symptoms and chances of recovery. Will I ever heal? Will I ever be able to walk again? When will life return to its happy, healthy, and normal state? 

nurses comforting female patient

Nurses help patients combat the fear of uncertainty by facilitating medical awareness and empowering them with knowledge. Specialized nurses encourage optimism by guiding patients about medications, their effects, and healthy coping mechanisms. They engage in lengthy conversations about symptoms and treatments, instilling hope and positivity. 

Raising awareness and dispelling myths is the most effective strategy to combat fear and help patients achieve emotional resilience. Nurses cannot fix emotional issues. But they can offer safe spaces where patients can open up about their fears and discuss difficult emotions. Nurses can help patients abandon fearful beliefs by dismantling myths with knowledge and offering research-driven insight. 

  1. Initiating Mental Health Interventions 

It is pertinent to note that nurses have limited clinical autonomy and must operate within their area of expertise. For instance, a pediatric care nurse cannot provide psychiatric support, while a gerontology nurse cannot engage in family care practices. However, designing and launching mental health interventions for emotionally distressed patients is crucial in nursing. 

Nurses are healthcare practitioners who spend the most time with patients, fussing over their needs and offering companionship. Extending emotional support constitutes a mental health intervention when a patient is extremely stressed and worried. Stress can derail the recovery and worsen physical symptoms by producing a deadly hormone – cortisol

Nurses can launch various mental health interventions to help patients relax, unwind their emotional burdens, and feel lighter. Sometimes, simply sitting next to an isolated patient, holding their hand, and letting them talk is a powerful gesture. Nurses can help patients by counseling them as they work through anxiety, fear, and grief. 

Some mental health interventions revolve around encouraging patients to enjoy their hobbies, like art, board games, and reading. Each patient requires a unique response, depending on their underlying emotional distress and life experiences. Nurses must dig deep into patients’ emotional cues and challenges and design interventions accordingly. 

Final Thoughts 

Making patients feel safe and supported has a transformative impact on their emotional health and healing ability. Patients are likely to heal faster when they have faith in their recovery and are eager to return to normal life. Nurses serve as unwavering pillars of compassion and support, ever present to hold hands and give bear hugs. 

It is common for patients to cry during challenging procedures or while experiencing emotional distress. Handling such a situation can prove overwhelming, especially if you’re eager to say the right thing to make them feel better. Remember, being there for them is much more powerful than anything else.

Read more: Self-Care for Nurses: How to Stay Fit With a Busy Job | Project Swole

Share the Swole!

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply