Nurse Burnout: 5 Ways to Combat it
We’ve all heard of all the “great” things we can do as a nurse to combat extreme stress (aka: nurse burnout) but quite honestly – many of them seem lame and not realistic for a working nurse who has responsibilities outside their job. If you’re unsure whether or not you are experiencing burnout, take a look at our signs and symptoms of nurse burnout and reflect on if and/or how you’re experiencing them.
Here are some realistic things you can do to invite a little “self-care” into your life and help to combat burnout:
Yep. You read that right. Turn off your phone, get off social media, turn off the TV and disconnect from all technology for specific periods of time.
Allowing yourself to be available and accessible to anyone and everyone at all hours of the day will do the opposite of recharge you. And if you’re experiencing nurse burnout – you need to be recharged. Just like little hiccups on your computer or mobile device are often solved by a reboot – so too – can your body be recharged with a little reboot.
Designate certain hours during the week where you go offline completely. You can even go so far as to let close friends and family know that you’ll be offline and will get back to them at a later time.
Remember the days of voicemail? We weren’t always available 24/7 – and we don’t have to be. Whether it be 7pm-9pm every night – or just short blocks of time on your days off – schedule it in your calendar if you have too – these moments offline will do wonders for your physical and mental health and help to ease feelings of burnout.
Yes. Easier said than done – and no – it can’t be forced – but yes – it can be scheduled.
Find something that makes you feel like you’re breathing for the first time – and do that on a regular basis.
Maybe it’s 30 minutes a day (or every other day) where you read a book, or take a hot bath, take a long walk around your neighborhood, listen to some classical music, meditate, or just lay on your bed sprawled out and stare at the ceiling with no distractions. Anything that helps you relax is important
Thirty minutes a day – could keep the doctor away.
Just Say No to Sleep Aids
As a nurse you’re probably aware of the power of the brain, the power of sleep, and the relation between the two. While you sleep your brain is busy removing harmful toxins, going through that day’s memories, saving them, deleting them – and any sort of sedation messes up this process and has consequential effects on the quality of your sleep and your ability to rejuvenate.
Sedation can take the form of over-the-counter sleep pills, prescriptions, even alcohol. If you’re serious about getting out of the nurse burnout-out-cycle – it may be time to remove sleep aids from your routine.
Just Say No to Extra Hours
The money might be tempting – who doesn’t want time and a half for working a few hours more – but the consequences are dire. If you’re experiencing burnout, the last thing you want to do is increase the number of hours you’re putting in on the floors. And if you’re a travel nurse – it might actually be a good idea to put a long break in between contracts so that you have time to recharge.
Most travel nurses take between 2 to 4 weeks off between contracts. If this is something you haven’t done yet – it might be time to start!
Experiencing Burnout? Take a Step Back
If you’re a travel nurse – that’s as easy as not signing that next contract – and taking “me time” for as long as you need. If you’re a staff nurse – consider asking your nurse supervisor for an extended leave of absence. A break might be just the ticket to getting back into the swing of things. Another option to combat burnout as a staff nurse is to consider switching to travel nursing. We’ve put together a list of reasons why making the switch from staff to travel nursing can help to reduce nurse burnout.
If you are experiencing symptoms of burnout, we highly encourage you to reach out to a mental health professional. If you are a Next Move clinician, we encourage you to take full advantage of our mental health benefits.