With nursing burnout reaching epidemic proportions in healthcare workers across the country, here are a few suggestions to keep your nursing career exciting and prevent nursing burnout.
You just began your dream career. You spent hours upon hours studying and memorizing for your exams, and you did it! You have rightfully earned your title of Registered Nurse. However, now that the graduation party is over and the champagne bottles have been put away, “real life” begins.
The first day on the job is exciting; you start your shift bright-eyed and motivated. Eager to please and determined to do your best to keep your patients happy and comfortable, But, as time goes on, you begin to realize that the work is not always that exciting. In fact, sometimes it can be downright draining. At times you may even question why you chose this career path, with all the constant demands and stress. Signs of nursing burnout may begin to pop up, like being irritable, exhausted emotionally, or checking out mentally. But deep down, the passion for helping others still burns, although it may be buried under layers of exhaustion. Wouldn’t it be great if we can keep that excitement alive, avoiding nurse burnout and starting each day with that same enthusiasm, as if it is the first day on the job?
But first, what is nursing burnout? In 2018 the World Health Organization classified burnout as an “occupational phenomenon”. Simply described as a state of vital exhaustion, signs of burnout in healthcare workers can be characterized by "feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and reduced professional efficacy."
Here are 5 tips that a new nurse should keep in mind to keep the love burning throughout your nursing career and stop nurse burnout:
1. Be in touch with your inner self.
Being mindful and aware of how you are feeling helps you to notice your negative thoughts as soon as they surface. Dealing with these gloomy feelings and learning how to handle your stressors in a healthy way will stop burnout in its tracks without allowing it to slowly wreak havoc in your life. Self-care is extremely important and will allow you to be a better nurse. Eating healthy meals, as well as getting adequate exercise and downtime are all crucial for you to feel your best. So, make sure to take the time to sit down and savor your coffee, cozy up with a good book, or take a jog around the park. Remember, only if you feel great, can you help others feel great too!
2. Take time to remember why you are where you are.
Nursing is an exhausting job, physically and emotionally, and sometimes you will find yourself feeling overwhelmed, especially with a nursing care shortage. Close your eyes and envision yourself as the young nursing grad ready to go out and save the world. Sit with that vision for a few moments and allow yourself to really feel the excitement course through you. Now, open your eyes and keep that vision in the back of your mind as you go about and continue to do your often grueling, but immensely rewarding and heroic work.
3. Take time to create a positive work environment.
Working in chronically stressful environments like healthcare puts an added emphasis on the need for clean, empowering, and satisfying work environments for nurses. While nurse managers may be in control of staffing for lower nurse to patient ratios, everyone can contribute to an environment where all feel respected, heard, and able to advocate for themselves. A positive environment decreases the imbalance dynamics that can cause nursing burnout and also improve patient care.
4. Take a vacation.
Doing the same workday in, day out can sometimes feel monotonous and drain all the joy out of your job, seriously impacting your work-life balance as a nurse. Taking a break can let you rejuvenate and rest up physically and emotionally. Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery to allow you to recharge your batteries and come back to your job refreshed and ready to conquer all your responsibilities with excitement and enthusiasm.
5. Get the support you need & deserve.
Joining a support group offers tremendous benefits. Just realizing that you are not alone and that others share the same struggles as you are is validating and can make you feel so much better. Your fellow nurses may also offer you helpful advice and practical tips, as well as simply being that listening ear that we all need at times.
So, nurses, please do yourself a favor and take good care of yourself - so you will be able to tell your grandkids down the road that you still truly love your job! For more information and statistics on nursing burnout, click here.
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