Prevent Nursing Burnout and Stay Optimistic During Pandemic
Prevent Nursing Burnout and Stay Optimistic During Pandemic
In a time where nurses are needed more than ever before, and yet our numbers are not enough, nursing burnout is a dreadful state of the mind and the soul that we are now at a higher risk of suffering. The lifestyle of a travel nurse offers routine changes in the work environment and responsibilities as well as opportunities to explore new people and places. Nevertheless, that does not mean travel nurses are invulnerable to burnout. It’s entirely possible that you are already experiencing burnout and have not yet identified it as such.
The symptoms of burnout are often both physical and emotional. Take a moment to reflect and analyze yourself, are you experiencing any of the following?
Fatigue – Are you physically exhausted even after a full nights’ rest? Do you feel emotionally exhausted?
Dread – Do you dread going to work for your next shift?
Motivation – Are you lacking the motivation to complete tasks both at work and home?
Compassion and Empathy – Are you struggling to find compassion and empathy for your patients at work?
Passion and Excitement- Has your passion or excitement for your career as a nurse faded?
Resentment – Are you feeling underappreciated and overworked?
Anxiety and Depression – Are you feeling anxious or depressed at work and/or at home?
If you are feeling any of the above, or all of the above, you may be experiencing burnout. We’ve put together a review of travel nursing tips and strategies to help you reduce or prevent burnout.
Relationships – When we are overwhelmed or exhausted it is quite common for us to withdraw from our relationships with family and friends. Strive to reach out to those people in your life who care for you, and find connections. Positive relationships in the workplace are beneficial as well, a sense of camaraderie can alleviate some of the pressures and frustrations in your work environment because it helps to erase a feeling of isolation in your burden.
Boundaries – Strive to establish boundaries between your work life and your personal life. When you are not at the hospital or medical facility, focus your mind and energies on your activities, desires, and needs that are separate from work. Avoid the temptation to call and check in on patients or coworkers when you are not on shift. If you do gather with coworkers outside of the workplace, set a limit to any time spent discussing your work grievances.
Sleep – Sufficient sleep is absolutely necessary for both our physical and mental well-being. We require this time off for our minds to be free from the pressures our circumstances. If you typically work the night shift or simply struggle with snatching a long uninterrupted sleep here are a few ideas to help that endeavor:
Set your phone to Do Not Disturb for a set number of hours (unless of course, you are on-call and required to be available by phone).
Invest in some black-out curtains for the window of your bedroom.
Turn on a fan or download a sleep sounds app to your phone to help you tune out the daytime noises.
Put a sign on your front door to turn away solicitors from ringing your doorbell.
Lower the temperature in your room. Research shows our body temperature naturally lowers when we sleep. Try lowering the thermostat for your room to between 60–67°F (15.6–19.4°C)
Take a warm shower or a bath 1 hour before you lie down. Research has shown that passively warming our bodies before sleep can help you fall asleep faster and experience a better quality of sleep. Perform this with the mindset that you are washing away your work, and resurrecting the boundary that you are now on personal time.
Aromatherapy scents such as lavender, peppermint, and damask rose can help with relaxation to aid in the act of falling asleep.
Exercise – As nurses we already know the value of physical exercise to our health. While not all of us are inclined to join a gym or an exercise class despite the benefits, we are capable of taking some time to walk outside. If you aren’t inclined to set aside time in your day outside of work to take a walk, consider using your break while at work.
Therapy – If you are experiencing dread, anxiety, or depression; seek professional help. It’s easy to issue therapy or counseling recommendations to our patients but often harder to take our own advice. Remember, although you are the clinician, you are not exempt from needing help. Explore virtual therapy options such as Better Help if it’s a challenge to find a nearby therapist available when you are.
Self-analysis – Check in with yourself regularly, maybe even write down notes about specific stressors. Is there a pattern? There is a free app, Stress Free Now, which includes relaxation practices, a stress assessment, and daily strategies to relieve stress.
Tech-Free Time – There are days when we just want to lose ourselves in the rabbit hole of social media as it might feel like you’re “checking out”. However, we can wind up, even unintentionally, in work-related topics. Our brains need tech-free time, and it’s important to be unavailable and fully unplug. Shoot for 30 minutes without technology, how long can you wait before you itch to pick up your phone?
Delegate – Are there tasks at both work and home that are appropriate for you to delegate? Review your responsibilities for anything that maybe you’ve taken on that can be shared or given entirely to someone else.
Say No – Say no to additional commitments. This can apply both at work and at home. Are you being asked to join a focus group, a special committee, a fundraiser, or help organize an event? If you’re experiencing burnout, it’s not the right time to take on additional responsibilities. Unless it’s required, say “no”.
While these strategies and tips are useful for preventing burnout, they are also conducive to living as a healthy nurse in general. Whether you are fatigued, energized, frustrated, or passionate about your career, these strategies can be of benefit to you long term.