Ways to Help Prevent Nursing Burnout
A career in nursing can be lucrative, but with long hours and high-stress situations, it can also quickly lead to burnout. In fact, out of all professions, nurses are more likely to experience burnout and emotional exhaustion. Not only can burnout lead to nurses leaving the profession, but it can result in mistakes made on the job and an overall lack of quality in patient care. Knowing how to prevent and handle burnout can help nurses stay strong on the job and enjoy the benefits that come from a career in nursing.
Ways to Prevent Nursing Burnout
Focusing on Yourself
Nurses spend hours every day focusing on others. After a 12-hour shift full of taking care of patients, they often head home to families vying for their attention, try to fit in time with friends and take care of some of the necessities of life. Taking a moment to decompress or focus on themselves is often the last thing on their minds. However, that time to decompress, reflect and focus on yourself is crucial when it comes to avoiding burnout.
After work, take some time to do whatever it is that helps you de-stress. It may mean getting regular massages, enjoying some time in prayer or reading a book. Maybe it helps to write in a journal or sit and debrief with a friend over a cup of coffee. Whatever it is, it must become a priority. Look for ways to incorporate stress-relieving activities into your shift at work as well. No matter how hectic the day, take a moment to have that cup of coffee, do a short yoga routine or just sit down and catch your breath.
Healthy Eating and Exercise
Taking care of yourself physically is as important as taking care of yourself emotionally. In the middle of a long shift or when you get home tired, it’s much easier to choose something quick and unhealthy to eat. However, taking the time to choose healthier food options and make sure you’re getting all of the nutrients you need will help boost your energy levels and give you something to feel good about. Making regular time for exercise will also make it easier to endure those long shifts and keep your energy levels up.
Focusing on Your Career
Focusing on the positive aspects of your career will help you avoid burnout. Think back to why you went into nursing in the first place and use that as motivation for days when you face unruly patients or don’t get a moment of rest during your entire shift. Look to the future of your career as well and try to come up with ways to make it something you can enjoy doing for a lifetime.
Setting goals will give you something to work towards and can motivation you to stick with nursing. Do you aspire to obtain a management position? Do you want to get an advanced degree? Set a plan for reaching your goals and stick to that plan no matter how hard it may seem.
Connect with Others
Connecting with other nurses can also help make the stress you experience more bearable. If you have had a particularly troubling day, you can talk it out with others who understand and provide empathy. They may also be able to help you come up with solutions to problems you are facing in the workplace or offer advice to help make your job easier.
Don’t Be Afraid to Step Away
If you feel burnout coming on, sometimes you just need to step away. While you cannot leave your job in the middle of your shift, you can take a few days off and choose not to focus on work at all. You can turn down overtime opportunities even though the extra money would be nice. Since nurses are in high-demand, you are also not limited to your current position. If your current job is getting boring, it’s okay to look for something else. Ask about being transferred to a different unit or try working a different shift. Sometimes nursing burnout just means it’s time to spice it up a bit and try something new.