If the lives of people depend on your job, it’s easy to forget about yourself and push your body and mind to the limit to care for others. It’s a noble principle, but one that takes a toll on your physical and mental well-being. The term often used is “burnout.”
Constant overwork and a lack of job fulfillment fuel the negative feelings attached to burnout. The worst part is that it doesn’t go away on its own. It isn’t something that becomes easier to live with over time. If you always end your shift (or multiple shifts) thinking about how exhausted you are, how bad this day is, or how you don’t seem to accomplish anything, the burnout worsens.
Sometimes, it could lead to depression.
For a group that advocates health and wellness, nurses often struggle with being healthy themselves. If you’re a nurse that constantly battles job cynicism, it’s important that you spot the symptoms of burnout early so you can address them immediately.
Distinguishing Nurse Burnout
Nurse burnout manifests in different ways because people react differently to the things that stress them out. The usual signs are irritability, intolerance to change, and exhaustion. Moreover, you’ll feel like you’re always tired and dread going to work.
You might feel checked out, meaning, you just go through your everyday tasks without enthusiasm or commitment. Saving lives has suddenly become a chore, and you don’t have the same compassion you had in abundance at the start. You take more sick days, too.
Once you see these warning signs in yourself, don’t put your recovery off. Brushing it aside or denying its existence doesn’t solve anything. In fact, it makes the problem worse. Act on them immediately to restore your old vigor.
Learn to Put Yourself First
Just like how flight attendants tell you to put your oxygen mask on before lending others a hand, you have to relearn to put yourself first. Re-learn, because all that training on helping people recover has conditioned you to think of yourself last.
If you’re burned out, understand that you’ve become a patient, too. Now, it’s you who needs help; you have to take care of yourself.
As much as possible, squeeze in time to do the things you love. Try knitting, start your own herb garden, or create a journal. If medicine is your sole passion, start a blog about wellness. Serve as a certified legal nurse consultant. Volunteer at a blood drive.
Do something you enjoy every day, no matter how small the instance.
Sign Up for Resilience Training
As a nurse, you witness the triumph of the human spirit every day. No progress is too small for patients on the road to recovery. You see how they bounce back from adversity, trauma, and tragedy.
Be like your patients. Learn to be resilient.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. And there’s a world of difference between burnout and a serious medical condition. One 15-minute meditation session isn’t enough to build resilience that’s strong enough to fight burnout.
The solution? Sign up for resilience training. This program focuses on four major areas: physical, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual well-being. By strengthening all four areas, you can face challenges head-on and see every problem as an opportunity to get better.
Lastly, at the end of the day, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. Nursing is an incredibly taxing job, filled with pressure and emotional labor. You’ve done a whole day of silently helping people get their lives back together. You deserve to help, too, especially from yourself.