How to Manage Emotions as CNAs

3 minute read

Nursing is a job that requires emotional intelligence and the ability to regulate your emotions. Nurses, CNAs, and other medical staff spend each day interacting with patients. Doing the job well means connecting on a human level with every person that walks through the door. This can be emotionally draining and mentally exhausting. 

Some days, you will see patients getting better, reaching milestones, and doing well. On other days, it’s the exact opposite. Navigating the extreme highs and lows requires the ability to manage your emotions without stuffing them down. Let’s take a closer look at how to better cope as you interact with emotional situations as a CNA. 

Identifying and Coping with Emotions For CNAs

One skill of emotionally intelligent CNAs is learning to identify and accept the emotions you are feeling. Paying attention to how you are feeling in the moment will help you better handle difficult situations. This is a vital skill as a certified nurse assistant. It’s essential to know where your emotional strengths and weaknesses are as you deal with patients and their families. Know when you need to take a step back or ask for help from another nurse. 

Being able to assess how other people are feeling, and separate your own experience, will help you handle challenging situations, too. This helps you both professionally and personally. It will also help you avoid taking high-stress situations and emotional patients personally. 

One thing to remember is that anger is a secondary emotion. It often stems from fear, hurt, grief, and frustration. Taking a moment to investigate where a person’s anger is coming from will help you resolve situations more smoothly. Be a listening ear when a patient needs to vent. An empathetic listener is far more likely to discover the actual cause of intense emotions. It’s tempting to be defensive when someone else is angry, but it’s rarely ever about you. 

Tips for Staying Emotionally Healthy as a Certified Nursing Assistant

Staying emotionally healthy isn’t just knowing what to do in a moment of high stress. It is also about taking care of your mental health so you are calmer and more centered. Here are a few tips to help you stay emotionally grounded as you navigate life as a certified nursing assistant. 

Talk to a Colleague or Other CNAs

It’s essential to have friends on the job that you can trust. This friend is someone that you can turn to when things become stressful. It’s okay to vent to a friend in private. Venting helps you process what you are feeling and gives you a chance to deal with your emotions. Keeping it in will just make all the stress build up and come out in unhealthy ways. 

Find a Quiet Spot

Identify safe, quiet places at work that give you a moment alone to get your emotions in check. High-stress environments come with extreme highs and lows. This can be extremely draining. Take some time to find a place where you feel comfortable sitting and relaxing. This will help you be more productive throughout the day, since you aren’t carrying pent-up emotions with you. 


Outside of work, take some time to take care of yourself. Try exercising, listening to music, yoga, or whatever helps you unwind and let go of the stress of work. If you need to, write it in a calendar or put a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget. Self-care is an important part of staying emotionally healthy. 

The Premier Healthcare Staffing Solution

CynaMed is a healthcare staffing solution in the greater Pittsburgh area matching professionals with medical facilities. Whether you are looking for a full or part-time position, a temporary or permanent job, we are here to help you find what you need. Contact us to learn more and check out our Ultimate Guide to Nurse Self Care

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