Burnout is one of the most dangerous aspects of a nursing career because it is one of the most challenging professions, both emotionally and physically. Any given day can be completely exhausting, and you may not even know why.
As patient educators, nurses are often teaching patients and family members that caregivers need respite and to replenish their spirits frequently, especially if the demands are many and heavy.
Typical of many health care professionals, nurses don't always heed the great advice they dole out. Without taking the time or making the effort to regularly replenish themselves, nurses are quite vulnerable to burnout.
Part of the problem can be that it's easier to advise someone else about their situation than to assess and evaluate your own.
Telling new parents they need to take turns getting up with the baby, or that they should ask grandparents or friends to babysit when perhaps all they need is a nap, is sound advice that hopefully they will heed.
The hospice patient's wife to take a break every few days, and to get out of the house while the aide comes to bathe him, seems like a no brainer.
We Need A Break Too
Yet what exactly can nurses do to replenish themselves? One of the most important things you can do is to give yourself credit for the patients that you help each day. On your ride home after each shift, think about the patients for whom you made a difference today. Don't dwell on the negatives.
Maybe you worked short handed, didn't get a break and skipped your meal break to finish something. Perhaps you had to leave something for the next shift to complete, or feel guilty for having had to delegate so many tasks. You can't change these things, but what you can do is try to be more productive tomorrow. Dwell on what went right and let go of the rest.
Next, think about the things you enjoy doing such as reading a good book, having a massage, or sitting at your favorite coffee house people watching. Maybe going to the movies with your significant other relaxes you, or having a nice dinner out with a glass of good wine.
Indulge yourself in the things you enjoy. Hire a babysitter or ask a family member to stay with your children for a couple of hours. Find some time on a regular basis to do something for you. You may have to make a few changes occasionally to accommodate your friends or family, but don't neglect to reschedule your time.
Don't be put off by the economy. Build a small savings by putting your loose change in a jar and after a couple of weeks see how much you have saved. Go watch a movie when the tickets are cheaper. Look for coupons for savings on meals. Buy your own wine and enjoy it at home with some music rather than going out.
You need to put yourself first and remind yourself you are worth it! If you don't take care of you, you will not have the physical or emotional strength to continue to give!
DO YOU HAVE ADVICE TO SHARE WITH THOSE WHO ARE BURNED OUT?
Please leave a comment below or share your experiences in the Decompression Room!