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5 Ways to Avoid Nurse Burnout

Nursing is a complex role, and aside from the physical strain, the emotional difficulty of the job can also lead to feelings of stress. Discover five ways that nursing professionals can avoid burnout in their careers.
A nurse shows compassion as she works with a patient
Image via Flickr by jpalinsad360

1. Balance Your Time for Work and Leisure

If you’re working as a nurse, you understand that serious problems can arise if you’re not focused. However, trying to remain motivated at all times can be a challenge.

Feeling isolated and overwhelmed are often the first stages in burnout, and you may find it difficult to focus. If you’re feeling stressed, start by identifying some ways you can better balance your time among your work, and leisure time.

Seek a social outlet that helps stave off depression and allows you to connect with others. Set and keep to a regular schedule of spending time with friends and family members. If you work nights and sleep during the day, try to catch up with loved ones by email or social media to keep your relationships strong.

Take advantage of time off. Companies offer time off benefits to their employees to help them enjoy a better work-life balance, so plan a vacation or relax at home for a couple of days to destress. If you have hobbies, set aside time during the week to engage in them.

2. Find Ways to Manage Conflict at Work

Worrying about workplace conflict is one of the factors that can cause burnout among nurses. Since nurses can be among some of the first responders for victims and perpetrators of violence, dealing with these individuals while providing medical care without judgment can be a challenging task. Working as a team to figure out the best ways to de-escalate conflict before it becomes a potential problem, or prevent it altogether, can help reduce stress in the workplace.

3. Understand the Increasing Need for Nurses

According to the Chief Nursing Officer of the American Hospital Association, many areas of the United States have pockets where hospitals and health care facilities can’t employ enough nurses to fill open positions. When a health care facility isn’t fully staffed, this shortage can put extra pressure on nursing professionals working at that facility, since they may often be called on to work additional shifts or take on increasingly heavier workloads.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the nursing field will have 22 million new jobs added by the year 2022. Registered nurses and nurse practitioners are some of the most in-demand professionals in the U.S. workforce, and the demand for professionals in the nursing industry is expected to continue to grow.

If your facility is experiencing nursing shortages, think about your own contributions and ways you and your team can best use the human resources you have available to provide quality care for patients and care for the members of your team. Similarly, look for opportunities to encourage people you may know who may be considering careers in nursing to enter the field.

4. Take Care of Yourself

The need for qualified nurses is on the rise, but hospitals and other facilities are also placing more importance on the well-being of nurses in their roles. A study performed by the National Nursing Research Unit in London revealed that in departments where staff members stay positive and take care of their own well-being, patients have better care experiences. Nurses who aren’t taking care of themselves may struggle to provide proper care for patients because they feel more stressed, anxious, or agitated than usual. When you don’t get enough sleep, for example, you may find it difficult to problem-solve, think on your feet, and find the opportunities to help others on your team.

Improving your sleep schedule and reducing your reliance on caffeine to stay awake are some good places to start. A restful night of sleep can help reduce stress and anxiety, and help you to avoid feelings of burnout. Also, schedule an appointment with your primary care health care provider at least once a year to look for any physical or mental problems that could go undetected.

5. Don’t Wait to Respond If You Feel Helpless or Overwhelmed

Reporting for work when you feel emotionally or physically exhausted could cause you to respond in anger toward a colleague or a patient. If you’re working on an as-needed basis, decline shifts that cause you to feel overwhelmed. Take advantage of vacation time to take a break from work if you feel as though you’re functioning or succeeding well.

When you feel like you are dealing with a heavy workload and an emotionally draining career path, those feelings can weigh on your mind and have a negative effect on job performance. Schedule an appointment to speak with your nurse manager about your concerns and how to resolve them. Many nurses may have been in a position where they felt burnout at some point, and your manager may have some tips or feedback that can help you best manage stressors in your role. Teamwork is also critical in a health care setting. Feeling as though you can discuss issues with your fellow nurses, physicians, and other support staff members is critical to avoid burnout.

With the right support network, good self-care habits, and stress-management techniques, you can avoid burnout in the nursing field.

Consider a Flexible Education Option

Maryville University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice online program is an example of an academic program that has no residency requirements; a 24/7 online learning model means that your studies can fit into your work, life, and family obligations. To learn more, visit Maryville University’s online DNP program.