Even in the best environment, nursing is one of the most rewarding, stressful, and exhausting of all professions. So much so that nurses have one of the highest burnout rates of all occupations. There is hope, however. By taking steps to manage stress, nurses can prevent burnout and continue doing their incredibly important work for many years.
What is Nurse Burnout?
Put in simplest terms, nurse burnout is a feeling of despair accompanied by extreme fatigue, stress, and unhappiness with the work. Most times, this burnout is caused by being scheduled for too many hours, being responsible for too many patients, and limits on nursing authority. These factors, combined with interpersonal demands, physical exertion, and emotional turmoil can quickly make nursing a nightmare for many.
The Dangers of Burnout
Nurses suffering from burnout can experience varying levels of emotional and mental instability and a decrease in on-the-job performance. Burnout can also cause depression, physical aches and complaints, insomnia, and difficulty in personal relationships. Many times, nurses suffering from burnout are less productive, have less satisfied patients, and miss more days of work.
There are steps you can take to prevent becoming a victim of burnout. First, you must remember to always take care of yourself. The healthier and happier you are, the more you can help your patients. You can reduce stress and enhance your general well being by getting plenty of rest, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. In addition, make sure to treat yourself to the little pleasures of life such as a date night with your significant other, quiet time with your children, or a girl’s day out.
Another good way to prevent burnout is to become a master of time management. Make time for friends, family, and your spouse. Also make sure to schedule in time every week to enjoy solitude in your favorite activity, whether it is reading a good book, going for a walk, or just soaking in a hot bubble bath. Eliminate unnecessary drains on your time and learn not to expect perfection in every part of your life. After all, nobody needs to scrub their entire house every day and there is nothing wrong with eating sandwiches for dinner occasionally.
Building a strong social network is another great tool against burnout. Build friendships with your colleagues and communicate with them often to decrease stress and to work with one another to manage seemingly impossible workloads.
Finally, allow yourself to feel. When you lose a patient with whom you felt a special connection, allow yourself to grieve. After all, it is your compassion that makes you a great nurse. Giving it up will lessen your ability to give the best care. Regardless of what you feel, you have the right to feel it and to communicate it with others. Allow the emotions to escape so you can pull yourself together and get back to the business of helping your patients.