As we push through a time of unique challenges in the healthcare industry, it is more important than ever for nurses to take care of themselves, not just their patients. Have you ever heard of career burnout? Everyone feels burnout differently, whether it is just job dissatisfaction or general fatigue. Burnout can leave professionals feeling unmotivated and unwilling to continue on their career path. Nurse burnout especially impacts not only the nurses themselves, but the patients as well. It is important for both your patients’ sakes and your own sanity that you learn how to prevent nurse burnout.Browse travel nursing jobs here!
What Causes Nurse Burnout?
1. Long Shifts
Traditionally, work shifts of twelve hours or longer are common among hospital staff nurses. With twelve-hour shifts, hospitals aim to have an increase in productivity due to fewer shift changes, and employees may enjoy the extra full day off as a result. Indeed, most nurses have the ability to work long and hard hours, for years even, without realizing the mental and physical strain they have put themselves through. However, several recent studies are showing how the negative effects of these long shifts have an enormous impact on motivation and increase burnout. It is also common that nurses may not receive a full-break or sometimes any break at all. Nurses are often paged during their breaks, giving them very little mental or physical downtime. While it might be bearable during the shift or assignment, nurses will often feel the fatigue once the assignment is over.
2. Emotional challenges
In addition to long shifts, extremely emotional situations are often packed into that time. Much like physical exhaustion, emotional exhaustion is a form of fatigue commonly experienced by those working in interpersonal careers. It stems from the empathy for sick patients, conflict between coworkers, the need to stay positive in front of patient family members, and the challenge in leaving home stressors at home and work stressors at work. Emotional exhaustion can lead to a lack of motivation to do even the most menial of chores. Nurses are especially susceptible to this feeling of emotional exhaustion.While it might seem like there isn’t much that can be done, there are small steps that you can take to help prevent emotional exhaustion during your assignment.
3. Pandemic Anxiety
Lastly, as COVID-19 swept across the country, there was a new anxiety for nurses to cope with day to day. It’s one thing to figure out how to prevent nurse burnout during predictable times, but it’s another challenge entirely to manage physical and emotional exhaustion during a pandemic. First, hospital and nursing home regulations changed and nurses were suddenly facing a whole new world of safety measures. Some were laid off because their specialty was not considered life essential. However, nurses on the front lines were swamped with patients that they really had no clear direction on how to treat. On top of all the major stress at work, outside of the hospital the country was and in some cases still is in disarray.
How to Prevent Nurse Burnout
Regardless of where or how you’e experiencing nurse burnout, it is really important to be aware of it. Here are some tips for how to prevent nurse burnout, whether it’s physical, emotional, or situational.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember to just stop what you’re doing and breathe. There are deep-breathing techniques that can really help to slow your heart rate and put you in a more grounded place.
Next, try to identify what the issue is that has you so stressed out, and think about ways you can problem solve with it. Perhaps it’s asking for help, or maybe it’s making a major change like a career change. I could be as simple as making a few lifestyle changes like prioritizing your time better or just not making time for things or people who wear you out. Take inventory of your stressors often to keep a pulse on the level of burnout you are experiencing.
Eat a more balanced diet
Experts are always telling us to eat healthier and consume a more balanced diet, but why? Not only can a better diet help our physical health, but it can boost your mental health as well! Giving your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to function at an optimal level will make you physically feel better. This, in turn, will make you mentally feel better as well. Eating right will also improve the quality of your sleep, as well as boosting your energy levels. This might solve your lack of motivation by itself!
Similarly to eating right, they say to exercise more. Obviously, there are a ton of physical benefits to exercising, but the mental benefits are great too! Exercise boosts serotonin levels and endorphins which in turn will boost your mood. Whether it be running on a treadmill or doing some yoga after a long shift, exercise will really play a big part in minimizing emotional exhaustion. Exercise is one of the easiest things to implement into your routine. It is a very beneficial addition to your list of how to prevent nurse burnout.
What are some solutions you’ve found for how to prevent nurse burnout? Let us know in the comments below!