The healthcare field put serious demands on its nursing staff in 2020. Hospital administrators, physicians and even patients often expected nurses to do more as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic — often with insufficient staffing. As a result, it is no surprise that the nursing field is experiencing high rates of burnout.
How do I know if I am on the verge of burnout?
Some signs that can indicate potential burnout include reduced compassion for patients, anxiety, difficulty sleeping and an increase in alcohol or substance abuse.
How can I reduce the risk of burnout?
Three tips that can help include:
- Self-care. 30 minutes of physical activity five days per week can have a significant impact on one’s mental and physical wellbeing. You could benefit from a walk, joining an online bicycle group like Zwift or Peloton. The important part is taking the time to get moving as data shows physical activity helps reduce the risk of burnout. It can also help to take the time to do something you enjoy. Watch a favorite show or cook a special meal.
- Get some sleep. Do not downplay the power of a good night’s sleep. Shutdown that smartphone and television and avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime to help better ensure the time you set aside for sleep translates to a restful night.
- Ask for help. It may just be a phone call to a friend or family member to vent, or something more. Take a moment to assess your mental health and take the steps you need to get a good footing before low level burnout builds into a serious mental health concern.
Do not get overwhelmed by suggestions to avoid burnout. Start small and add healthy behaviors as possible.
Why should nurses take the time to address burnout?
Because burnout can lead to depression and mental health concerns. If these issues begin to interfere with your ability to provide quality care, the nursing board could initiate an investigation and penalties may result, potentially including a suspension of one’s nursing license.
Proactive measures can help reduce this risk. Take the time to care for yourself. However, if you are notified of an impending investigation by the state nursing board, take the time to fight for your profession. You can act to defend your interests during these investigations. Their findings are not infallible.