Being a nurse is a demanding job. And, while it is one of the most in-demand careers in the country, the shortage of nurses can lead to nurse burnout. Burnout is categorized as physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. It can lead to detachment and depression. Recently, we asked our nursing community, “How do you combat nursing burnout?” Here’s what your fellow nurses had to say.
How do you combat nurse burnout?
“I recently joined a boxing club and it has been the perfect outlet to punch out stress and frustration. It is also a great workout!” -Rachel M.
“Kickboxing has changed my life. All the emotions that I have swallowed over a lifetime of nursing (1980 grad) have come out on the punching bag – anger at the illness that can’t be fixed, working conditions that can’t be changed, the heartache that can’t be healed, family issues can’t stop worry. I started 4 years ago, and I feel that a lot of negativity has seeped out of my body, and that I am mentally and physically stronger at my job because of this outlet. I have tried all kinds of exercise routines, and kickboxing is by far the best for me.” -Terry H.
“Healthful nutrition, exercise, drinking plenty of water, taking in some sunshine, being temperate in all things, asking for help when needed, resting and meditating and trusting in a divine power are the ways I manage stress and prevent burnout.” -Laura G.
“When I am feeling stressed due to work, I go out and hike in the woods. It is refreshing; the air is refreshing, there is no noise from people or machines, and I am able to truly reflect on my job, my life, my goals. Leaving the busy hospital floor behind and listening to the peace of nature is how I am able to refresh and not burn out from working.” -Jennifer M.
“It took me a long time to realize that I had to fill up my own cup to be able to give to others and to be the best nurse I could be. Being able to spend time with family and enjoying my time away from work is what works best for me. Giving my all while at work is just as important as giving my all to those I love the most. Learn to be present and unwind.” -Tara J.
“The best way to take care of others is to take care of yourself! You cannot be your best if your physical, spiritual, and emotional health are suffering. When you do something on a routine basis, such as a massage, it enables your own body to relax and heal. Then you are refreshed and able to give your patients the best care they deserve.” -Rachel G.
“I love being by a nurse. It is a calling. It finally clicked one day, after about 10 years of being a nurse… to really listen to your patient, put yourself in their shoes and act accordingly! What would I want? How do I want to be treated? That’s how I don’t get burned out. I love my job, I love my patients, and it is such a gift to get to help these people. I take good care of myself. I really try to get 7-9 hours of sleep, I exercise twice a week and walk my dog twice a day. I get a massage once a month and my nails done, and I use my PTO! I go on vacation at least once a year. It’s my time to hit the reset button. And then I’m ready to come back to work!”
When times are tough, it helps to have a source of motivation, inspiration, and insight. For that, turn to these 7 TED Talks every nurse should watch.
“Laughter at work is too often tainted with sarcasm and stereotyping both patients and their issues. Listening to a comedy station as I go home evokes belly aching laughter, sometimes with scenarios that even portray interactions with the healthcare system. It definitely releases endorphins and helps me shed some work stress before I even get home.” -Denise S.
“In the setting of a stressful work environment, it helps to have a supportive environment that especially includes co-workers that work as a team. When the staff, perform as a unity (working together), there is a feeling that we are striving to do our best for the benefit of the patients. Communication between staff is essential for teamwork. Acknowledging each other’s positive attributes, also, contributes to team building and decreases burnout. Bottom line: we can all grow from the experience and learn from each other good coping skills.” -Sharon B.
“We are like a candle burning. Life and its circumstances can put our flame out. Nurses have to burn bright and be a beacon for those who are worn and can’t help themselves. We all have our moments. Nurses need to be compassionate. When you are sick, you’re broken and vulnerable. Everyone needs hope and encouragement. Just a few words or a touch can inspire healing and let your patient know someone feels empathy, not sympathy.” -Lahoma D.
Want more self-care tips to keep with you as you advance in your career. Read our hand-picked list of 10 Self-care Tips for Nurses.
Do you have other ways to combat nursing burnout? Join the conversation and leave a comment below.