In the wake of COVID-19, healthcare workers have been experiencing burnout at incredible rates. One study found that 93 percent of workers were dealing with stress, and 76 percent had reported exhaustion and burnout.
Nurses, in particular, are feeling the effects of the pandemic. Between long hours, patient overflow, and fear of getting sick themselves, it’s understandable that burnout is on the rise. Are you feeling this way yourself? Are you worried that you’re on the brink of nurse burnout? Here are some tips that can help you to avoid and overcome it moving forward.
Know the Signs
As a registered nurse, you know how to pick up on signs that something is wrong with a patient. How good are you at picking up on signs that you’re not doing well, though? Be on the lookout for indicators of nurse burnout, including the following:
• Constant fatigue
• Frequently feeling overworked and underappreciated
• Regularly feeling unenthusiastic about work or detached from patients
• Feeling like you’re “failing”
• Physical symptoms (headaches, digestive problems, aches and pains) related to stress
Prioritize Your Health
It’s unfortunate, but true, that people who work in healthcare-related jobs often struggle to prioritize their own health. Make sure you’re taking steps like these to keep your physical and mental health in check:
• Eat regular, healthy meals
• Prioritize sleep, especially on your days off
• Practice deep breathing
• Try to get outside at least once per day
• Exercise regularly (even walking or doing some stretching can make a big difference)
If you’re experiencing signs of nurse burnout, there’s a good chance other RNs at your job are in the same boat. Reach out to your colleagues and seek support. Consider going to your supervisor and letting them know what’s going on, too. They can point you in the direction of additional resources and help you make a plan to address your challenges before they get worse.
This can be hard to do, especially in the current climate, but it’s imperative that you set boundaries around work. Don’t come in on your days off. Take breaks when they’re scheduled. When there’s time to rest and recharge, use it for that, not for catching up on other things. Setting and holding these kinds of boundaries might feel impossible at first. The more you practice, though, the easier it gets.
If someone is offering to lighten your load, let them. When a colleague offers assistance, thank them and let them step in. This applies at home, too. If your spouse offers to cook dinner or take care of other chores so you can rest, thank them and let them step in while you take some time for yourself. Remember, in all areas of your life, you don’t have to (nor should you) do everything alone.
Combat Nurse Burnout Today
Nurse burnout is more common now than ever before. That doesn’t mean you have to just accept it, though.
Keep the tips listed above in mind so you can continue to do your job well and care for your patients without putting your physical or mental health at risk.
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