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How To Prevent Nurse Burnout
Nursing is a stressful profession. It's demanding, non-stop, and can leave you exhausted. Nurse burnout is common, and after the events of the last couple of years, it's becoming even more prevalent.
There are a few things you can do to prevent nurse burnout and the chaos that it wreaks upon your life.
What is Nurse Burnout?
Burnout is a term used to describe a type of physical and emotional exhaustion that nurses experience when they work too much and too hard.
According to a report by the National Academy of Medicine, more than half of all caregivers experience burnout. It's common, but that doesn't mean it's not a major problem.
Nurse burnout can lead to a host of problems, including a low sense of accomplishment, professional cynicism, increased job stress, and poor job performance.
Nurses who experience burnout may be more likely to make mistakes and suffer from depression. There is also a greater risk of these nurses quitting their jobs and nurse burnout could be one of the reasons nurses are significantly more likely to commit suicide.
What Are the Signs of Nurse Burnout?
Nurse burnout can present in several ways. The symptoms of burnout typically occur when a nurse is overworked and overstressed, often as a result of working long hours and dealing with high-stress situations.
Every week, nurses are tasked with managing highly stressful situations. They provide emotional support to the families of sick and dying patients. They help patients in extreme pain and discomfort. They deal with disease, infections, trauma, and death, and they often do all of this while working long hours in a brightly-lit, high-pressure environment.
Some of the symptoms of burnout include:
- Feeling unable or unwilling to attend work
- Suffering from fatigue and stress
- Feeling under-appreciated at work
- Feeling tired and emotionally exhausted
- Neglecting self-care
How to Prevent Nursing Burnout
All healthcare workers feel stressed and pressured at times. They may also struggle to deal with distressing moments, and those difficulties aren't resigned to the home, either.
Nurses have families. They lose grandparents and parents. They deal with sick children, dying pets, wayward teenagers, and the stresses of moving home, getting divorced, arranging family funerals, and falling out with loved ones.
It's a lot of stress and pressure, and it can lead to nurse burnout and mental health problems.
To prevent such issues and avoid nursing burnout, be sure to follow these simple steps.
Good self-care starts with a proper sleep schedule.
If you don't get enough sleep, you'll have higher stress levels and will feel more fatigued and emotional. Eventually, all of that sleep deprivation will catch up with you.
Maintain a Good Work-Life Balance
Most Americans take their jobs home with them. They moan about their bosses, complain about customers/clients, and worry about the work they have to do when they return. It's only natural, but in the nursing profession, this attitude can leave you weary, stressed, and exhausted.
As soon as your shift ends, draw a line through it and focus on your home life. Don't take your work home with you. Don't let those stresses and pressures affect you when you're spending time with your family or relaxing in front of the television.
It can be easier said than done, but if you make an effort to separate your personal life from your work life, it will eventually become second nature.
Talk to Someone
Having someone to talk to can make a massive difference to your mental health. That person can be a friend, family member, partner, or it can be a professional relationship.
Many institutions offer therapeutic or counseling services and you can also find these services away from work.
There is a certain stigma attached to hiring a therapist (although thankfully, it's not as much of a problem as it once was). But there's nothing wrong with it. Those people are there to help you and if a short chat can make a massive difference to your mental health and your professional accomplishments, why not?
Counselors are experienced in helping healthcare workers to deal with personal and professional pressures. They know what you're going through and can help you with your issues.
Remember That You're Also Important
You have an important job, one that revolves around patient care and is essential for keeping people comfortable, happy, and alive. But that doesn't mean you can neglect yourself.
It's important to maintain proper self-care practices as a nurse. Take some time for yourself every now and then. Exercise, go for long walks, take a vacation—do the things that make you happy!
Develop Strong Interpersonal Relationships
The more friends you have at work, the easier it will be to get through the day. Stress management is easier if you're surrounded by people you know, like, and respect, and so strong interpersonal relationships make a massive difference.
Monitor Your Stress Levels
Chronic stress is a major cause of nurse burnout. It can also increase your risk of everything from heart disease to depression and suicide.
Managing stress as a nurse is difficult, but not impossible. Some of the ways you can reduce stress levels include:
- Exercise regularly
- Perform deep breathing exercises
- Reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption
- Take about your problems with other nursing professionals
- Get a hobby
- Limit your exposure to work-related topics
- Spend less time on social media
Eat a Balanced Diet
Your diet may not seem very important, but if you're not getting your fill of calories, macronutrients, and micronutrients, you'll be more prone to fatigue, sleep problems, energy crashes, and a host of other issues.
These problems might not initiate nursing burnout, but they will certainly make it worse.
Stop eating for speed and convenience and take more care to eat properly.
That doesn't mean you have to cook a wholesome breakfast every morning before work and then make a big meal when you return. It's about making better choices at mealtimes, such as snacking on fruit instead of candy, ordering healthy takeout instead of pizza, and eating as many slow-releasing carbs, vegetables, and fruits as you can.
Fiber is also important. The vast majority of Americans don't get enough fiber, and so they suffer from regular bouts of constipation, indigestion, and intestinal discomfort.
Eating your fill of fiber will add some regularity to your morning rituals and ensure you feel lighter, fresher, and more energized throughout the day.
It could also reduce your risk of heart disease and colon cancer, among other things.
Where is Nurse Burnout More Common?
All nursing professionals deal with burnout, from nurse managers to nursing students and more. However, research suggests that it disproportionally affects those in the emergency care and oncology sectors. These are some of the highest-pressure environments in the medical sector, so that's not surprising.
Summary: Managing Mental Health Problems and Emotional Exhaustion
Burnout is common among all healthcare workers including nurses.
As someone who works in a healthcare setting, it's important to be aware of the signs of nurse burnout and to provide assistance where you can. Most healthcare organizations have systems in place to help nurses and doctors deal with burnout, and they can also get support from their co-workers.
Remember that burnout is something most healthcare professionals deal with and it's nothing to be ashamed of, nor is it something that you should just ignore and try to "power through". Deal with the issue early to prevent more serious symptoms and issues down the line.
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