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Burnout is a reality in a profession where you spend 8 to 10 hours every working day caring for people who are sick, disabled and dying. While the profession is incredibly rewarding and offers benefits no one outside of nursing could understand, it’s also important you recognize the potential for burnout in order to avoid it or treat it. Burnout may have three different components: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and dissatisfaction with your personal achievements.
These may be the culmination of a physical, mental and emotional state triggered by chronic overwork and the inability to sustain job fulfillment. Recognizable symptoms include irritability, intolerance to change, chronic exhaustion that is either physical or mental and a feeling you’re just going through the motions. There are steps you can take to avoid burnout and to combat it if you already experienced these challenges.
Pay Attention to Your Feelings — If you’re noticing you have negative thoughts, it’s time to look for ways to practice mindfulness-based stress reduction. This is a process of noticing negative thoughts and looking for a positive angle on the situation, like taking lemons and making lemonade. It helps create a greater awareness of your present situation and helps you develop healthier ways to respond to the situation.
Deep Breathing — You’ve heard it before, and you’ll likely hear it again, take a deep breath before you begin to do something stressful. The reason it’s recommended so often is that it works. However, in order for it to work, you actually have to practice it! If you know you’re walking into an emotionally charged situation, stop and take five slow, deep breaths to help re-center your thoughts and ground yourself.
Engage in an Activity That Requires Your Attention — Although rewarding, it’s important you enjoy something other than your job. Get your mind off your daily activities by practicing something that requires your attention. Some enjoy an athletic pursuit and others prefer reading, sewing or writing. The objective is to spend time thinking about what you like to do and give yourself permission to do it.
Take a Break — While at work, it’s important you take short breaks during the day and not work eight hours straight through. Don’t let your vacation time accrue. Take some time away from work to get some physical and emotional distance. This allows you to recharge and get re-energized for when you return.
Practice in a Specialty You Are Passionate About — Nursing is a unique profession as there are numerous different specialties in which you can find your passion and shine. Whether that is in pediatrics, surgery or long-term care, the higher your degree of satisfaction with your job, the lower your risk of experiencing burnout. This does not mean you’ll never experience burnout if you love your specialty. It only means you have one less stressor at work—doing something you don’t enjoy.
Network — It’s important to have a network of support people you can turn to. Those support people should be nurses who can offer you better insight and will completely understand the experiences. Friends and family members can provide sympathy and support, but only another nurse can offer solidarity and understand the victories you experience.
Prioritize your Health — While you might understand health better than the average person, your chaotic schedule and long shifts may mean you don’t prioritize your nutrition, sleep, and exercise. Each of these factors contribute to your mental and physical ability to withstand stress. Be sure you get at least eight hours of quality sleep in a dark room, eat a healthy well-balanced diet without junk food and get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.
At Capital Healthcare Solutions, we want you to experience personal and professional growth without struggling with burnout. Engaging in coping strategies to reduce your potential for burnout helps restore your energy and enthusiasm for your profession. Contact us today to find a nursing assignment you love!