Being a nurse means you’re no stranger to that feeling of total exhaustion at the end of the day. That creeping feeling that makes your feet heavier, makes simple tasks seem more difficult, and makes your bed the best place in the entire universe.
Nursing is a demanding career, so that amount of fatigue comes with the territory, right? Yes and no. There is a distinct difference to a busy day that leaves you drained, and a schedule that leaves you so tired that it starts to negatively affect your well-being. The latter can lead to something pretty serious: nurse burnout.
This type of chronic fatigue can lead to unfulfilling work, a lesser quality of patient care, and an overall dissatisfaction that can bleed into every area of your life.
So how can you make sure that your day-to-day levels of fatigue don’t become a bigger problem? In a profession that can go from zero to fifty in an instant, there aren’t any surefire ways that will make you feel like you didn’t just work a 12 hour shift. However, there are some habits and lifestyle changes that can help you and your body feel better prepared for your day.
Pay Attention To Yourself
When your career is based upon caring for others, it can be easy to forget about yourself. Being aware of how you feel on a daily basis can help you identify when you are the most worn out or low energy, and give you the opportunity to respond to those things immediately. Paying attention to your diet, sleep cycle, and other things that affect your energy levels will give you insight on what you need to change.
Take Real Breaks
We all get slammed, and you may be tempted to “work through” your breaks with the intention of getting more work done. Most of the time, these are a false economy. Your mind and body need time to recoup and reenergize during the day, and skipping these breaks means more fatigue later in the day and less quality work in the long run. Take a real break away from your work, even if it’s just five minutes. You’ll feel better about coming back to work if you’ve allowed yourself time to regroup.
Talk With Co-Workers
If you’re new to a facility or feel like you’re overwhelmed with a new responsibility at work, don’t forget to talk to those around you who may have been in your shoes. Chances are they can give you invaluable advice or tips on how to approach your work better, so you don’t feel like you are going it alone. Our co-workers are a support system that we sometimes forget to utilize, but no one can run a facility by themselves. Tap into that support and support others.
Consider a Change
Sometimes a facility or particular position hit a point that you just feel uninspired. This is a pretty classic sign of burning out. Fortunately, healthcare workers and nurses have a lot of options in today’s marketplace. Consider looking into taking a travel nurse assignment in a new location, or start working in other facilities in your own hometown. Sometimes a new challenge and a change of scenery is all it takes to become reinvigorated in your career. Luckily, nurses have those types of opportunities available to them all over the nation.
Maintain A Balance
Be aware of your lifestyle outside of work. Maintaining your personal life and time play a crucial part in how we approach our work life. Having something to look forward to after work, as well as not “taking your work home” with is crucial in maintaining a balance that won’t burn you out. Staying healthy and taking care of yourself will allow you to better take care of others.
Did we miss any? Lend your voice to the conversation – how do you avoid the fatigue and burnt out feeling during the highest-stress shifts? Tell us in the comments below!