4 tips to prevent Nurse Burnout

final-fire-shiftsAs nurses we all seem to be trying to find a balance, we are all over achievers and usually sign up for more than we should.

On a daily basis we are constantly juggling different hats both at work and at home, and for many, at school. Every day it seems like we are giving a piece of ourselves to those around us.

We are blessed to hold so much responsibility, however, finding a balance often leads to us feeling overwhelmed and overworked. Speaking from personal experience finding a balance is often challenging.

I am constantly signing myself up for more commitments than it is humanly possible to fulfill. My fellow nurses usually suffer from the same “do it all” attitude. Gone are the days that we lived a carefree life, where we could just go to a job, work our scheduled time, and leave.

As nurses we don’t leave until patients are safe, that means on average leaving on time is not a term used in nursing.

So how can we reduce our stress? How do we prevent nursing burnout? We have heard it since we started our journey into nursing… We need to reduce our stress to prevent burning out. Yet how many of us actually follow the suggestion along the way.

I have spent days running around like crazy at work, then went home and been a busy body before eventually crashing, waking up and doing it all over again.

It’s schedules like this that lead to burnout, but let’s be real, we can’t stop living our lives to prevent a crash. So we start with the basics.

1. Take time. Everyday just relax and breathe. This may only be a few minutes daily, but when you see an opportunity take it. Even if it is just for the few minutes you are alone in the shower, take those few moments to think about how wonderful things truly can be, like hot water and yummy smelling body soap.

2.Seriously, we are nurses, we know we need sleep, yet we will sacrifice sleep in order to make time for what I think of as our “super human” moments, such as super moms who stay up after working 13 hours to make cupcakes for a birthday at school. This I found to be a very common problem when I worked nights. I would stay awake or wake up at 2:00 p.m. to complete my super human obligations, which looking back seems insane because I would not wake at 2:00 a.m..

3. Eat right. This is one thing we don’t take the time to do and it is extremely challenging to maintain a healthy diet while working 13 hour days, with hospital cafeterias that usually sell less than healthy food items. Also, night nurses have been shown to have a higher risk of diabetes, due to the fact that sugary foods are often snacked on in an effort to stay awake.

4. Yes we all educate patients on the importance of exercise but do we follow our own advice. This is one of the best ways to reduce our stress and, as we all know, it releases endorphins… And happy nurses don’t kill their husbands.

If we follow the basics and remember that we are but mere mortals that don’t have to do everything for everyone else, then maybe we can prevent ourselves from burning out. At some point we are allowed to help ourselves in an effort to better help those around us, which is again easier said than done.

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