Nursing is a profession that requires a lot of hard work and dedication, and often demands an awful lot of time. With extremely long shifts taking place in a difficult environment, it’s not surprising that approximately 38% of nurses suffer from burnout. This happens when life becomes too heavy and your body just says no, which can be caused by neglecting areas of life outside of work. As well as being a nurse, you are lots of different things to a range of other people including friends, daughters, mothers, or partners. The attention demanded by everyone can catch up with you if you’re not careful. To manage your busy life as a nurse, do everything else you need to, and avoid burnout, follow these helpful tips.
What Is Burnout
When the weight of the world gets too heavy, it makes us feel physically and emotionally exhausted and is typically caused by stress. Burnout is a more powerful form of prolonged stress that leaves us feeling emotionally drained, overwhelmed, and incapable of performing our basic duties. Suffering from burnout can turn the most optimistic person into a tired, miserable, and cynical mess.
Unfortunately, nurses are the poster people for burnout, which is especially dangerous when you consider how many lives are in their capable hands. Knowing how to spot the signs of burnout and implementing strategies to avoid it will do wonders for your mental health.
Spotting the signs of burnout can be difficult at first because it works behind the scenes to slowly drag you down. However, you should look out for the following signs:
- You feel exhausted and drained the majority of the time.
- Your body aches and you’re plagued with headaches.
- Your appetite has gone out the window and your sleep habits have altered.
- You feel an enormous sense of failure and self-doubt.
- Any sense of accomplishment or satisfaction is zapped.
- You skip work whenever you can.
- You’re drinking more than usual to cope.
- You begin to withdraw from people close to you.
These are just some of the common symptoms of burnout. They are similar to those of depression, anxiety, and even regular stress. The main difference between burnout and stress is that when you’re purely stressed out there is an end in sight. People who suffer from burnout are incapable of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and it can take a long time to work their way back.
Why Are Nurses Prone Burnout?
Burnout is common amongst nurses because they have an extremely demanding job, on top of everything else demanding their time. According to one study, nurses who worked the industry-standard 12-hour shifts are 2.5 times more likely to suffer burnout.
Nurses have to deal with the public, be people’s rocks in hard times, suffer abuse, learn new techniques and technology, give people bad news, and sometimes, unfortunately, lose people in their care. All of this can grind a person down.
In the fast-developing industry, nurses never stop learning new things, which can add more stress to their life. Whether they’re studying a postgraduate course to become an APN or learning How to Become an FNP in Oklahoma, as this blog post from the Texas Woman’s University explains, it’s an extra burden that nurses are troubled with.
The Importance of a Workout Balance
One of the best ways to avoid burnout is to maintain a work-life balance. Having a balance between work and life is crucial to productivity and performance. It has been found that a simple improvement in work-life balance can increase productivity by up to 30%. On top of decreasing burnout, having a work-life balance will improve mindfulness and engagement. As a nurse, it’s important to be present, engaged, focused, and on top of your game because people rely on you to guide them through illnesses. If you’re underperforming as a result of burnout, you could end up causing injury to yourself or something else and facing a hefty lawsuit.
Things You Can Do To Avoid Burnout
Now that you know what causes burnout, it’s time to learn how to take control. Although life as a nurse still won’t be easy, it will be at least manageable. Fortunately, you can devise a healthy strategy to maintain a work-life balance and avoid burnout.
Draw Up a Schedule
You’ve got your work rota set in advance, and now it’s time to plan your life around it. Invest in a wall chart or whiteboard so that you can make yourself a schedule to stick to. You should include any errands you need to run, people you need to see, and plans you may have made. When you’ve got a visual schedule to work to, your mind is less likely to try and stay in bed and avoid doing them because there is more accountability.
Things change, and as a nurse, you may need to be flexible. If you’ve written entries to complete some jobs and your shift changes, don’t worry, you can always go back and edit your schedule. There’s no point getting stressed about it because that’s what we’re here to avoid.
Do Some Exercise
As a nurse, you most likely know that exercise is vital to a healthy mind and body, but it can be difficult to practice what you preach. Exercise is proven to increase productivity at work and improve our mental health. When you get the cardiovascular system pumping, you supply oxygenated blood to even more parts of the body. If you can get outside during your exercise, you will also reap the benefits of fresh air and sun, which provide vitamin D.
With your busy schedule, you don’t have to do strenuous workouts to feel a benefit. You could try simply walking to work instead of driving or walking to the next shop when you next need groceries.
Make Time For Loved Ones
With your schedule in place for all to see, make sure you pencil in some time for your friends and family. You don’t need to do anything heavy and go out drinking every weekend, but the occasional brunch out can do a world of wonders. Socializing is a key part of being human and can have an enormous positive impact on all areas of your life because it can increase confidence, reduce anxiety, and provide a good source of dopamine to makes you feel good. When you’re in a good headspace, you’re less likely to feel high levels of stress and burnout.
When life gets too much, there’s no shame in reaching out and asking for help. You can talk to your family and friends if you just need someone to listen. Alternatively, you can seek professional advice through your Employee Assistance Program (EAP). No matter who you talk to, it’s important that someone is there for you, seeing as you spend so much time looking after other people. Sometimes, an impartial ear is all you need to vent out all of your problems – bottling up your issues will eventually lead to an eruption.
Take A Break
You’re entitled to holiday time at work, so make sure you take it. Even if you don’t go away anywhere, your time away from caring for others will be the perfect opportunity to look after yourself. When you’re on your holiday, remove yourself from all work-related group chats – no one wants to see work-related chatter when they’re off work.
Further, when you’re at work, try and put regular time aside to have short breaks. This could be as simple as stopping still between errands to take a concentrated deep breath. Alternatively, you can try doing some meditation on your break in an attempt to drown out the noises in your head. If you take regular breaks, the sick people under your care will be greatly appreciative because you’ll be able to function more efficiently.
Learn To Say No
Finally, and arguably most importantly, is learning how to say no. When everybody is demanding your time, you need to learn how to recognize when there’s too much on your plate and when it’s time to say no. You’re allowed to let other people down from time to time because the most important person you need to look after is yourself (and your patients). You don’t need to be rude to say no, you just need to find ways of saying no without offending people.
Being a nurse is no easy job, they’re constantly supporting people, constantly trying to be better, and always feeling like they’re not doing enough. Owing to the stressful nature of work, a significant number of nurses suffer burnout, which is caused by extremely large volumes of stress. To avoid getting burnt out, and increase happiness in all aspects of life, nurses should strive to have a good work-life balance. By creating a detailed schedule, nurses can learn to manage their time more effectively and keep life under control. When you dedicate your life to looking after other people, you must look after yourself.