Ever since the pandemic, many industries have adopted newer models of work. Some companies offer hybrid working options while others allow their employees to work from home completely. However, the same can’t be said in the medical field.
As a nurse, you’re expected to always be ready to respond. You’re given many responsibilities to juggle as you push through long hours of work in high-pressure environments. From taking care of patients to handling other concerns, every second of your day counts. In the long run, this can lead to fatigue and other negative effects on your well-being.
So what can you do to take care of yourself while also taking care of others? In celebration of World Mental Health Day, it’s important to learn strategies you can use to prevent nurse burnout.
Nurse Burnout Syndrome
Anyone in the medical field understands that their job means more than just a nine-to-five. Being a nurse, specifically, requires more heart and motivation than just paying the bills. It’s a vocation that requires a lot of dedication and compassion for people.
Despite how noble the profession is, the role of nurses comes with unique challenges. For example, it requires you to have long work hours with some shifts covering irregular days like weekends and holidays. Sometimes, it also puts you in emotionally and mentally intense situations where you need to finish time-sensitive tasks even when you’re exposed to the suffering of your patients.
Prolonged exposure to these types of work environments can cause fatigue and exhaustion in all aspects. Whether mentally, physically, or emotionally, you have an increased risk of experiencing Nurse Burnout Syndrome.
But what exactly is it? Nurse Burnout Syndrome is a serious condition that is characterized by stress and exhaustion felt by a practicing professional in the field of nursing. It can result from a variety of situations like poor working conditions or a lack of effective coping mechanisms. Basically, it is the result of having unmanaged stress caused by your job as a nurse.
According to data gathered in 2020, 62 percent of nurses in the US experience burnout.¹ This means almost two-thirds of nursing professionals are in danger of experiencing issues that stem from it like compassion fatigue and a weakened immune system.
Based on these numbers, there’s a high chance that burnout is an inevitable experience you’ll have to go through at least once during your career in patient care. So, instead of ignoring it or being too worried about it, it’s wise to simply start preparing.
Nursing Burnout Symptoms
One of the best ways to prepare for burnout is to understand when it’s happening. You can’t prevent or solve an issue if you don’t even know it’s there in the first place. To help you become more aware, the following are signs and symptoms that suggest you may already be experiencing burnout.
- You’re constantly tired – both physically and emotionally.
- It’s easy for you to feel overwhelmed at work.
- You’re no longer excited about your job.
- Simple daily activities like eating and sleeping are hard for you to do.
- You’re often feeling underappreciated by the people around you.
- The quality of your work decreases while the number of errors you make increases.
- You easily become irritated and cynical towards your colleagues and patients.
- You neglect hobbies and other forms of self-care.
- There is a decrease in your productivity and motivation.
- You often feel sad, depressed, or unfulfilled.
7 Coping Strategies to Deal with Nurse Burnout
If you’ve experienced a few of the symptoms listed above or you feel like you’re close to experiencing them, don’t worry! Burnout is a serious condition, but it doesn’t always have serious effects if it’s handled properly.
Below, we’ve listed 7 strategies you can use to cope with the effects of nurse burnout in your everyday working life. In following them, you’re helping yourself maintain your overall well-being.
1. Maintain Self-Care Practices
As a nurse, you’re surely no stranger to taking care of others but for the sake of your wellbeing, you need to also make it a habit to take care of yourself. Ensure that you’re healthy by maintaining self-care practices in your everyday life.
Dedicate time to simple exercise to boost your physical health. Put in the effort of eating a balanced meal to keep you fully functional throughout your day. Whether it’s a warm bath or a short nap, give yourself a bit of time to take care of yourself before you take care of others.
2. Pick Up Fun Activities and Hobbies
Remember that your life shouldn’t revolve only around work. You need to learn to step away from work from time to time and focus on something fun to help you feel less jaded and unmotivated. You may consider indulging in hobbies and activities that bring you both joy and relaxation. In doing this, you are giving yourself a mental escape from the demands of your nursing career.
3. Establish a Strong Support System
Who would better understand what you’re going through than your fellow nurses? Instead of always stepping away from everything related to work, consider approaching the people you work with. Considering many of you have similar experiences, you can establish a strong support system where each of you can lean on the other.
From venting your frustrations to talking through your concerns, having someone to talk to who understands can greatly help you manage your negative feelings.
4. Set Reasonable Boundaries
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the workload you have now, consider reassessing the boundaries you’ve set at work. Remember that you’re only human. You can’t provide excellent care if you are feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and burned out. Learn to say ‘no’ when necessary and be open to asking for help from others.
By setting realistic boundaries, you are helping yourself avoid the negative impacts of burnout in the long run.
5. Practice Mindfulness and Reflection
A career in nursing can be chaotic at times. You’re often dealing with different patients with varying diagnostics and medicine prescriptions. For nurses, it’s important to always remain mentally present. You can make sure of this by practicing mindfulness techniques like meditation and breathing exercises whenever you can.
At the end of your day, you can also dedicate some time and effort to reflect on your experiences for the day. Are there any actions or responses you would change if you could? What should you have done instead? Doing self-reflection may help you destress especially after a long shift.
6. Take Advantage of Different Wellness Programs
The great thing about being a nurse is that you are never alone with the challenges you face. Many healthcare organizations offer assistance to their employees regarding their mental and physical wellness.
Make an effort to do your research and explore different resources available to you. Take advantage of different seminars and programs made to help nurses like you manage their stress and burnout.
7. Seek Professional Help
If you’ve tried all of the strategies above and you still feel excessive burnout from your career in nursing, think about seeking professional help to find effective ways of handling your symptoms of burnout. Reach out to professionals who specialize in stress management and burnout prevention.
Aside from helping erase the stigma surrounding therapy sessions, you would also receive advice and guidance on how to best cope with your negative feelings.
BECOME THE BEST NURSE YOU CAN BE WITH PRS GLOBAL
Nursing can be demanding, and nurse burnout is a real challenge. At PRS Global, we care about your work environment and well-being as a candidate and as an employee. We’re dedicated to helping you create a successful nursing career here in America.
More than just connecting you to different healthcare facilities, we also do our best to acclimatize you to the life you’ll be building here. From direct placements to premium processing, we are here to help you every step of the way! Reach out now to start your global journey.
1 Schmidt, Anne. “We Need to Talk about Burnout the Same Way We Talk about Benefits.” American Hospital Association, 20 Oct. 2020, www.aha.org/news/blog/2020-10-20-we-need-talk-about-burnout-same-way-we-talk-about-benefits.