If you read last week’s post on signs and symptoms of nurse burnout, perhaps you are questioning whether you are in fact a victim of an ever increasing epidemic in our profession. Multiple studies across the world focus on nurse burnout. It is certainly not unique to the U.S. alone. We know some of the most common causes-longer hours, sicker patients, fewer nurses. We know that it is linked to increased infections in patients and other errors. While burnout is usually a result of reasons beyond the individual, it is the individual that suffers. So what can you do if you are on the verge of burning out?
Identify the Cause
Are you working too much? Do you feel underappreciated? Are you taking on more than you can handle? Ask yourself these honest questions. Getting to the root of the problem is the best way to begin to find a solution.
Make a commitment to take better care of yourself and by this I mean, find a way to destress. What relaxes you? Make a daily or weekly commitment to relaxation. Instead of relieving stress with bad food, alcohol, or cigarettes, try the healthier approach. Get a massage once a month. Start walking around your neighborhood to burn off some of the negative energy. Exercise of any form can counter the effects of burnout. Start planning that vacation you have always been talking about.
Take a Time Out
The reason we take vacation (whether a weekend away or longer) is to unwind, disconnect, regroup. It allows for a moment of reflection and evaluation. Perhaps you are in desperate need of a time out. Maybe a vacation will allow you the time needed to recognize the seriousness of your situation and reflect upon what changes are necessary for you.
Seek the Help of Others
Seek the support of those you trust both professionally or personally. Talk to your manager, coworkers, friends, and/or family. You are not alone in this and should not feel as though you are.
Make Necessary Changes
After you have identified the root of your burnout, what will it take to change it? Perhaps your solution is a simple one. If you are working too much, maybe it is time to cut back your hours or stop working all those overtime hours. Perhaps you need to work in a less acute environment for a brief period. It may take a huge change in the form of a new job, break from the profession.
Burnout can lead to anxiety, depression, and poor coping mechanisms. If your work environment has led you down the difficult path to anxiety or depression, please take the necessary steps to a happier you, whatever that is. If you don’t care for yourself first, how can you care for others?
Lori is a travel nurse that has made her way to Sweden. She is also a Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher. Follow her adventures working and traveling through Europe in her blog, Neonurse, or on Instagram.