When the going gets tough

 Tanja Koch 30 Oct 2018

Training to become a nurse is demanding, and so is making the jump to being newly qualified - so it’s important to have some strategies to hand. From eating well and to making the most of your mentor to giving mindfulness a go, RCN Counsellor, Tanja Koch, has some great pieces of advice for you…

When things get tough - you can remind yourself of following strategies: 

Make the most of your mentor  

If need more advice or guidance, talk to your mentor, they can help you reflect on your experiences and identify where you might need some extra support. Remember, you’re not expected to know everything immediately, so don’t be afraid to ask other colleagues questions, too. 

Learn from others  

Professional networking is useful to help newly registered (and established) nurses share and learn from their experiences, and develop insight and new ways of working. The RCN’s professional forums cover all nursing specialties. As a member you can join for free. They offer great capacity for support and learning from more experienced colleagues.   


Take time to think about your practice and your day. What has gone well, what hasn’t and what have you learned from the situation? Think about what you could have done differently – would this have improved the care you have given? Or how you looked after yourself? You may prefer to use Rolfe et al’s (2001)  “What? So what? Now what?” reflective model. 

Recognise areas for improvement  

A more formal process of professional support is clinical improvement supervision. This can help nurses reflect on their practice and identify areas for improvement. It also provides an opportunity to develop expertise, find new ways of learning and to gain professional support

 5 things you can do right now!

Small changes can have a big imapct on your wellbeing. Try a few of these today, or right now...

  1. Eat well. When we feel stressed, its easy to opt for foods high in sugar and fat, or caffinated drinks. Take a look at the RCN’s Rest, Rehydrate and Refuel campaign for ideas of how you can look after you – better.

  2. Laugh out loud. Humour is recoginsed as a great stress buster. It distracts you and forces your brain to work in a different way. Put on that favourite comedy show or podcast, or simply laugh with friends.

  3. Talk a walk. It may sound like a Victorian remedy but fresh air and a change in environment can stimulate your senses and reduce your stress levels.

  4.  Keep calm. Give mindfulness, meditation or yoga a go, or try masasge or reflexology. These can all reduce stress and calm your nervous system.  

  5. Enjoy yourself. Make time to engage in activities that you enjoy and make you feel good. Even it its listening to your favourite music, or spending time with the people you love.


Tanja Koch

Tanja Koch

Counsellor and Service Coordinator

Page last updated - 29/05/2020