While nursing is one of the most rewarding careers out there, it can also be one of the most stressful, so it’s vitally important those in medical professions such as this are proactive in taking care of their mental health.
Burnout is one of the biggest occupational hazards among nurses and can be caused not by one specific issue but a combination of many common problem areas associated with the field.
It can be helpful for nurses to be conscious of those areas likely to raise stress levels in order to tackle problems before they do harm to mental wellbeing.
Here are ten issues that could lead to burnout and positive steps to take to make sure that it doesn’t happen.
1. Long hours
It’s no secret that many nurses have to work extremely long hours, especially those working in hospitals. It’s not uncommon for nurses to work in excess of 12 hours a day, and those long hours can really start to add up.
If your position does require you to work exceptionally long shifts, it is important to make sure you take an appropriate amount of time off per week, so it doesn’t become too much to handle.
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to ensure you don’t exceed a 40-hour working week, but you do need to find a way that the long hours don’t start affecting your own health.
2. Heavy workload
In addition to a long working week, every day is likely almost certainly extremely busy too. There is always something to be doing and often a never-ending list of patients to attend to.
It is easy to get caught up in the to-do list and end up missing breaks as you constantly move from one job to the next.
However, it’s vital for your own mental wellbeing, and to maintain a good level of care for patients, to take a break whenever possible. It doesn’t have to be a long pause, just enough time to grab a drink, put your feet up for five minutes or get a breath of fresh air and give your brain a reset can have a positive effect.
3. Taking work home with you
People who take up a career in the medical profession often do so because they care. This means when they have had a particularly difficult day, it can be hard to switch off at the end of your shift.
This can have a huge negative effect on mental health, so it’s important to recognize when this is happening and take steps to put work to the back of your mind. Practices such as meditation or yoga are relaxing and can divert the mind from other matters.
If you are hoping to climb the career ladder by furthering your nursing qualifications, relocating to study, or adding a lot of traveling to your already busy schedule might be enough to tip you over the edge.
If this is the case, remote learning might be the solution. For instance, Baylor University offer online dnp courses, including a number of specific program tracks that can be done at home.
5. Lack Of Nutrition
With any high-pressure job role, good nutrition is often the first thing to get forgotten. Lack of breaks during working hours and the desire to grab anything that’s quick after long shifts mean junk food is the go-to.
This can really take its toll on physical and mental health though, so it’s important to get more of the good stuff.
Make sure you have plenty of fresh fruit and veg to snack on. If you have to grab something quick, an apple or some chopped bell peppers are a great choice and for quick meal options when you get home, try to have pre-prepared meals in the freezeryou can quickly reheat.
6. Lack of Rest
Rest is one of the most important factors when it comes to protecting mental health, so while it might be tempting to Netflix and chill after a hard day at work, your rest needs to be the priority, so it’s a much better idea to climb into bed with a book and binge on sleep instead.
7. Emotional Workload
As jobs go, there are few which take a greater emotional toll than nursing. While there can be tremendous highs, there are frequent crushing lows too, and this can be hard to manage.
If you start to find the emotional rollercoaster is creating too heavy a burden, talking can help – that could be talking to a friend or relative or seeking professional help.
8. Poor Work/life balance
When so much of life is taken up with the role of nurse, it can be difficult to find time for everything else.
However, family time, hobbies, self-care, vacations, and other endeavors separate to work will help keep your mental health in check.
Don’t let work take over your every waking minute, and make sure you schedule in time to spend with your loved ones or doing things you love to strike the perfect work/life balance.
9. Feeling undervalued
Working long days in a high-pressure environment can often lead to feeling undervalued both at work and at home.
If you are feeling like you’re not being appreciated, speak up. Ask for a meeting with supervisors and discuss any concerns you have in your job role and at home. Ask for a family round table to clear the air.
If you drive into work and feel like that is just another problem adding to your stresses, look into ways to get around it. Perhaps sometimes you could carpool, take a bus or even walk to work, reducing the burden of a stressful commute.
Maintaining an awareness of those common nursing situations that add to stress levels and which may ultimately result in burnout means a person will be more likely to spot problem areas and rectify them before they cause more serious damage to mental health.
While giving the best care to their patients, it is also vital to carry out some self-care too in order to maintain a positive mindset and continue doing their jobs to the best of their abilities.