"It really helped to have friends with shared experiences, without the need to explain why my day was bad," she recalled. "I was able to process those feelings and let it go."
Research backs up the importance of these nurse-to-nurse friendships in reducing stress. Jennifer Ptacek, in her Western Michigan University master's thesis, cites a study suggesting social support helps nurses manage stress, reduce feelings of uncertainty and gain control over stressful situations. Another study found that work friends are often the most helpful source of emotional and informational support.
Researchers have also concluded that nurses (as well as the other health care professionals) with strong connections to others in the same profession experienced lower levels of stress than those without. Those connections were the primary positive factor in controlling job-related stress.
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