Do you feel exhausted, anxious, or dread the thought of going to work each day? In last month’s article, we discussed these subtle signs (and more) which indicate your body may be headed for burnout. Already feeling burned out? Let’s look at some steps you can take to overcome this chronic, stressful state and begin thriving again.
1. Identify the source of the stress.
The Mayo Clinic offers this tip for pinpointing the circumstances that are causing you to feel overwhelmed: “Once you’ve identified what’s fueling your feelings of job burnout, you can make a plan to address the issues.” If you have trouble recognizing the cause, try tracking your job responsibilities for a few days, and write down how you feel after you’ve done each activity. Tracking your feelings will help you concentrate your efforts on the areas that are truly quelling your passion for nursing.
2. Minimize your time with these stressors.
Harvard Business Review (HBR) suggests you may need to consider reducing your workload or taking a vacation as ways to recover from burnout. HBR also recommends limiting your interaction with people who leave you feeling drained and delegating the tasks that don’t require your personal touch to other people. Furthermore, they advise to disconnect from your work when you finish your shift and on your days off. Bottom line: Don’t take your work home with you. What happens at the hospital (or another facility), stays at the hospital.
3. Find a support network.
Perhaps you have supportive colleagues, friends, or family members who can help you through this challenging time. However, for some nurses, the level of burnout requires the assistance of a professional. Try not to view your quest for help as a sign of weakness, but rather, a bold step forward toward creating the life and the working environment you want. Additionally, many employers will offer an Employee Assistance Program to help you resolve personal and work-related problems. Take advantage of whatever services are available to you.
4. Practice self-care.
An article from Sanford Brown College makes this observation regarding workplace burnout in nurses, “Even the strongest nurse who puts too much devotion into her work faces the risk of ‘compassion fatigue.’” It’s easy to get caught up in taking care of others and neglecting your needs. But cultivating a balance between work and your personal activities will go a long way in helping you heal from burnout. Sanford Brown offers these pearls of wisdom for struggling nurses:
“Good self-care for nurses includes eating well, getting enough sleep, avoiding harmful substances and staying physically active. You may be on your feet all day at work, but the rest of your body needs a different kind of workout. Maintaining strong mental and spiritual health (if appropriate) is also essential. Whether it is meditation, yoga or prayer, set aside a part of the day to find a calming moment that belongs only to you.”
5. Find a creative outlet.
When you’re in a state of burnout, you’re more prone to making mistakes, losing focus, and feeling unhappy. Research suggests creative endeavors can enhance your mood, increase your energy, boost your immune system, lower stress levels, and provide a positive distraction from the things that are weighing you down. Been itching to try a writing class? Maybe you’ve been eyeing a community pottery class for several months. Now, is the perfect time to tap into your creative side and reconnect with the joy and wonder of life.
6. Consider your options.
Have an honest talk with yourself. If you’ve tried the above tips to no avail, it might be time for you to consider a job change. While it’s not an easy decision to make, you may find you’re more fulfilled in a less demanding job that supports your values and beliefs.