Burnout remains a widespread issue as healthcare professionals emerge from a three-year pandemic. It is essential to recognize that burnout is a normal response to chronic stress and has long affected healthcare workers. However, for nurses, understanding how to identify and overcome burnout can help alleviate pressure, shape career goals, and ensure the best possible care for patients.
According to HelpGuide.org, burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Factors such as heavy workloads, administrative burdens, and high-pressure environments can worsen feelings of burnout. Most nurses report either heightened anxiety and depression, feelings of giving up or considering leaving their profession.
“52% of all nurses in America are considering leaving their positions, with 51% of all nurses citing that their work was negatively affecting their health and well-being.
66% of nurses under 35 reported feeling anxious.
30% of nurses said they are ‘not emotionally healthy’ or ‘not at all emotionally healthy.’”
Even a lack of sleep or social support can contribute to heightened stress levels when you work long shifts as a nurse. Nevertheless, while burnout is common, it can be alleviated. Developing self-awareness of your mental state is a key first step in preventing and addressing burnout, allowing you to regain a sense of balance and control over your work life.
Six expert tips to take care of yourself when experiencing burnout
Prioritize your Personal Health
Your well-being is essential for providing optimal patient care. While preventing burnout in the first place is ideal, it may not always be feasible due to increased workloads and high-stress environments. Ensure you are staying hydrated, sleeping at least eight hours, maintaining a healthy diet, and engaging in regular exercise.
Conversations with family, friends, and coworkers can help relieve stress. If you are a travel nurse, consider scheduling phone and video calls back home for some much-needed human connection. At work, maintain relationships with your colleagues, and don’t be afraid to open up about work-related challenges and successes. Odds are, your coworkers will relate and take the opportunity to share their own thoughts and feelings! This can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation on-the-job.
Striking a balance between your personal, professional, and social lives is crucial. Treat self-care as you would any other appointment, scheduling regular check-ins with your well-being. Activities such as journaling, meditation, and yoga help manage stress and care for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
It is acceptable to decline additional shifts and social demands when you feel exhausted or overwhelmed. Remember: to care for patients, you have to first care for yourself.
Take Time Off
Paid time off and sick leave exist for a reason. Utilize these benefits to recharge, travel, or take a mental health day at home when needed.
Sleep for Success
In order to prevent and treat burnout, sufficient sleep is vital. Strive for at least eight hours of quality sleep each night. If you work night shifts and need to snooze during the daytime — consider using a sleep mask or blackout curtains to darken your room, a sound machine to drown out neighborhood noise, and reduce screen usage at least two hours before bed to facilitate better rest.
Identifying Burnout: Signs and Symptoms
Burnout manifests through physical, emotional, and behavioral signs, although the experience varies for everyone. As a best practice, check in with yourself and your coworkers regularly for signs of burnout, and don’t ignore symptoms that may lead to decreased physical or mental health. Your well-being is crucial to providing your patients quality care, so consider self-care a professional necessity! Some common indicators of burnout include:
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Frequent illnesses
- Increased incidents of head, neck, abdominal, and back pain
- Changes in appetite
- Decreased life satisfaction
- Feelings of failure
- Overwhelming sense of defeat and helplessness
- Lack of motivation
- Negative outlook
- Isolation from friends and family
- Angry outbursts
- Substance use
- Withdrawing from responsibilities
If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988. For more mental health resources, visit the National Institute of Mental Health.
Travel Nursing: Enhancing Nurse Happiness, Improving Patient Health
Work-related stress is a common experience for healthcare professionals. While preventing burnout is ideal, it may not always be feasible due to increased workloads and high-stress shifts in the industry. At Advantis Medical Staffing, we specialize in promoting the well-being of travel nurses.
We prioritize your work-life balance by connecting professionals like you to shorter contacts, better benefits, and increased compensation. Nurses, themselve, consistently rate Advantis Medical Staffing as their #1 preferred travel nurse agency. Start your journey towards balance and well-being today by exploring our thousands of open opportunities database.
Featured Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Pexels; Thank you!