What is Nurse Burnout?
Nurse burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental fatigue caused by lengthy and unnecessary stress. Nurse Burnout occurs when a nurse feels overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and incapable of meeting constant demands. Being a nurse can be a very rewarding job, but when burnout sets it, one may find less job satisfaction.
With a reduction in nursing staff, a nurse’s energy is exhausted and can lead to lack of motivation. Nurse burnout can be caused by various factors, including:
- long hours, (check out our past blog post for tips on how to survive a night shift)
- high-stress work environments, and
- lack of support.
Burnout should be taken seriously as it can lead to mental health disorders such as generalized anxiety or depression.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (2021), burnout in the medical profession is a critical threat to the healthcare industry. Health care professionals are one of the highest-risk groups to experience burnout due to the emotional strain of the job, stressful work environments, high stakes, and the emotional stress of providing care for sick and/or dying patients.
Nurses make up the largest segment of the healthcare workforce. Workloads on the health care system have grown which has negatively affected the demands put on nurses. Poor staffing ratios, lack of communication, and lack of leadership have been imposing factors.
Over a third of the nurses who decided to leave their position admitted that they were leaving due to burnout. This was higher in the hospital setting when compared to the outpatient clinic setting. It was felt that this may be related to staffing shortages. Emotional exhaustion was felt to be relatedly mostly to excessive work hours and lack of sleep.
Nurse Burnout Symptoms
You may ask yourself, “How do I know if I am suffering from nurse burnout?” Although there may not be strong warning signs, there are indicators that may suggest you indeed are dealing with some level of burnout. Here are a few symptoms of nurse burnout:
- Overwhelming anxiety
- Lack of compassion
- Feelings of being unappreciated
- Withdrawn feeling
- Increase in attendance issues (calling out regularly)
- Increase in negativity
- Struggling to perform the job adequately
- Lack of personal accomplishment
If you are experiencing several of the above symptoms it may be time to take some time for yourself or have an open conversation with your manager about how you can have a better working environment.
How to Fight Nurse Burnout
The following are a few ways you can fight nursing burnout:
Set Personal Boundaries
Boundaries are an important way to take care of ourselves because it makes our expectations clear, and it leads to a happy and healthy work relationship.
Eat Healthy & Get Enough Sleep
Eating and sleeping well also helps to fight nurse burnout. Not having enough sleep or eating enough can cause us to feeling drained and withdrawn from patient care.
Prioritize “Me” Time
Try to schedule “me” time. Set time out of your day to regroup mentally and emotionally, even if it is for a short period of time.
Clean Up & Declutter Your Space and Life
Clear out unnecessary clutter that can stress you. Unplug; set aside distractions that can cause more stress. Minimize negative people in your life.
Give yourself a short break throughout your shift.
Ask for Help
Seek support—address the stress. Most hospitals or industries have programs for stress management. If your place of work is this fortunate, join a program!
Treat Yo Self
Reward yourself for all the hard work! When coming home from a busy day of work, it sometimes seems like there is no energy left. Sometimes nurses are not appreciated to the extent that they should be. Therefore, it is important to find time for yourself. Let your body and mind know that you can do this!
How to Get Past Nurse Burnout
If you find yourself burned out, first know it is okay. We are all human and sometimes we do reach our limits. Use the following tips to help get past nurse burnout:
- The first step to overcoming nurse burnout is recognizing that there is a problem. Acknowledge that you are having trouble managing stress and make an action plan.
- Find what helps you to manage stress best and develop a plan. Commit to it. It can be very easy to get unfocused but be determined.
- Identify what you are willing to sacrifice. This means you will have to make time for yourself and say no to other commitments. Implement the plan by developing productive habits. You can teach an old dog new tricks! It may take time to adapt, but determination is the key.
- Be patient with yourself and the goals that you have set. It may take time, but in the end, you will be the true winner.
- Write your goals down, take precise action for your plan.
- Set a time frame to achieve your goals to help you follow through with the plan.
- Make a schedule for yourself.
- Finally, review your progress. Reassess if the plan worked for you! If the plan did work, would you use it again? Would you recommend it to a peer? If it did not work, what other course of action will you take? Will you try a new view to combat burnout?
How to Prevent Nurse Burnout
Your typical type-A personality can multitask, be organized, and have a lot of ambition. Studies have shown that most nurses have a type-A personality. Being organized can help aid in burnout prevention.
To prevent burnout, you want to:
- Prioritize your work-life balance. When you find a balance between work and life, you will be more productive, engaged, and have less stress.
- Find a hobby. Hobbies are enjoyable and used for relaxation, and they often give you a sense of pleasure in life.
- Another way to prevent burnout is to further your education. Education should be one of our main priorities as nurses. Pursuing education can also help you feel a sense of accomplishment.
- Enjoying healthy activities such as walking, yoga, joining a gym, taking the stairs, or taking a stroll in a local park can help clear your mind. Exercise is known to alleviate stress and make you feel good physically and mentally, it releases “happy hormones” such as adrenaline and cortisol. As we exercise, we also release endorphins which are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators! It is important to set goals for yourself.
- Lastly, reach out to a support system. Support systems may seem underrated however, it is often nice to know someone is facing the same thing as you are. You may find that sharing ideas of how to manage stress with other peers can be helpful. This may allow for you to learn new approaches to managing stress to avoid burnout.
Nurses are truly modern day superheroes! Nurses often get so focused on caring for others they neglect themselves. Allow this to serve as a reminder to take care of you for a change! We at Body Intelligence Scrubs salute and support you, thank you for serving the way you do!