Although in occupational stress considerable attention has been given to identifying causes and consequences, relatively few attempts have been made to examine and identify the strategies nurses use to cope with stress. In a nationwide survey nurses were asked to complete a check list of coping behaviours developed from strategies nurses themselves said they used. The analysis identified six strategies. These included problem-oriented behaviour, trying to unwind and put things into perspective, expressing feelings or frustrations, keeping the problem to yourself and accepting the job as it is and trying not to let it get to you. The importance of these findings is discussed in terms of how coping has been defined, the role of palliative techniques and strategies for intervention.