Nurse burnout is not a new concept. Nurses have been experiencing burnout for decades. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, more Nurses than ever are experiencing burnout, making it a hot topic in the Nursing community. Nurse burnout is often brought on by everyday stressors like insufficient staffing, increased workload, high patient acuity, and even verbal or physical abuse from patients. These stressors result in physical, mental, and emotional fatigue. As a result, Nurse burnout has been a significant factor in the number of Nurses leaving bedside Nursing or even the profession altogether.
Identifying the symptoms of Nurse burnout is the first step in preventing it from progressing. Nursing burnout is not one size fits all, and there can be many different ways it manifests itself. Nurses can experience various symptoms, including fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, anxiety, loss of desire to go to work, feeling underappreciated, overworked, or unsupported, difficulty with interpersonal relationships, and may even isolate themselves or withdraw from activities.
With an emotionally demanding and stressful job, it can be normal to experience some ill feelings toward your job from time to time. However, when the ill feelings begin to linger for weeks or start to affect your personal life or how you feel toward your job, it may be time to take some time for yourself and implement some of these strategies to reduce the risk of becoming burnt out.
Develop Strong Relationships with Coworkers
Nurses work in stressful situations but having a good support system with those you work with can help lighten the load and decrease the risk of experiencing burnout. This is because Nurses in positive environments feel more supported by the people around them. Having good support from Nurse friends can reduce stress levels and the emotional exhaustion you may encounter in the clinical setting.
Prioritize Physical and Mental Health
A great way to prevent Nursing burnout is to prioritize your physical and mental health. Nurses cannot pour from an empty cup. Practicing yoga, meditation, or journaling are all excellent ways to relieve stress and work through frustrations or concerns. Nurses should also try their best to eat well, drink plenty of water, get adequate sleep and participate in physical exercise several times per week.
Setting boundaries is essential to prevent burnout. Nurses often work long shifts with varying schedules, which can be challenging to navigate for some Nurses as they work opposite shifts than friends and family. Although working extra hours can benefit your wallet, it may have different personal benefits. Taking the time to disconnect from work stressors and spend time with loved ones is essential for a work-life balance. Sometimes it's better to leave work at work and avoid work-related conversations while on your time off.
Find Support with Loved Ones
The Nursing profession can come with a heavy mental load contributing to burnout. Finding support from family and friends is essential. If you experience trauma in your workplace, sometimes talking to a therapist or counselor can help with coping strategies and processing your feelings.
Find a Creative Outlet
Having a creative outlet can help release endorphins that can help to prevent Nurse burnout. Research has shown that Nurses with creative endeavors have enhanced mood, more energy, stronger immune systems, and lower stress. Some Nurses enjoy activities like crocheting or knitting, painting, or pottery. So if you have been looking for a way to decrease work stress, now might be a perfect time to learn a new skill and pick up a new hobby.
Consider Advancing Your Career
If all else fails and you continue to experience symptoms of Nurse burnout from chronic job stress, consider going back to school to advance your Nursing career. By advancing your Nursing career, you can become a Nurse leader, Nurse Educator, or a Nurse Practitioner. These career paths can provide autonomy, a change of pace, and remove you from your current clinical environment. Advancing your career also gives you a unique advantage to change how we practice Nursing and help prevent Nursing burnout for future generations of Nurses.
It takes a team effort to prevent Nursing burnout. Administration and Nurse leaders must prioritize the well-being of their Nursing staff, and Nurses themselves must strive to care for themselves as well as they care for their patients.