The recent economic woes have caused many professionals, including nurses, to delay retirement which in turn leads to an even greater risk of becoming burnt out in the profession. If we can recognize the warning signs of burnout, we can work towards bringing our life back into a healthy balance so that we are more at peace both emotionally and physically. The following are tips for dealing with burnout in the nursing profession.
Begin your day with a morning ritual such as meditation, journaling or stretching. Don’t overlook the importance of a good breakfast to help you get off to a good start in the morning. Often times too, we hit the alarm, and our mind fills up of all the demands of the day. Try to take even a few moments when you first awaken to take a few deep breaths and envision your “perfect” day as you would like it to go. There are no traffic jams, all your patients are pleasant and courteous and you even get a few moments to yourself at work to recharge.
Pay attention to your eating, sleeping and exercise habits. If you have not already done so, start up a routing of getting proper nutrition and exercise throughout your day and be sure to get plenty of rest. The proper combination of exercise, nutritious food, and rest will help recharge your daily battery and deal with unforeseen obstacles that can cause you stress.
Remember to take breaks, even if you can only fit in a few 10 minute breaks during the day to grab a cup of coffee and recharge. Review your day so far and all the positive things that you have accomplished as well as all the things that went well instead of focusing on things that might not have been positive.
Managing stress involves being able to say no when you really need to which can be tough at first. The caregiving nature is at the root of all nurses as they give of themselves physically, emotionally and spiritually all day long. Try to maintain some control over your day by saying no and setting boundaries as best you can.
Reassess your current place of employment. Perhaps you need a break from your permanent nursing position, something to get you away from the corporate politics of the hospitals. This might be a good time to try travel nursing or consider changing careers to go into teaching and prepare the nurses of tomorrow.
Sometimes just being able to open up to family and friends helps alleviate stress. Avoid isolating yourself. By sharing your problems and feelings with them, your family and friends can have a profound effect on your feelings of burnout as you are able to get some things off your chest and release that tension.
Before you make any rash decisions, think about why it is you wanted to become a nurse. It’s because you care. Helping patients learn how to care for themselves and getting them back on their feet as well as being able to take the time to interact with them and answer questions is a vital part to nursing care.
Sometimes though, the day is so rushed and after dealing with short staffing and extra patient loads its not uncommon to miss out on having those special moments with patients you treasure. The human connection nurses make with their patients is so important. Tuning into those times where you have an extra moment to listen, make eye contact and really connect with a patient is a bonus to both nurse and patient. Taking the time to notice these moments you are connecting and providing a real value to your profession will help to bring you more peace and be more aware of the difference you are making.