Nursing is a demanding profession as it is an occupation that requires dealing with the health and wellness of other human lives. This is known to cause a special type of stress in some – a state of feeling physical and emotional exhaustion in the workplace known as nurse burnout. Nurses that work in hospitals have the highest rate of burnout while acute care facilities and home health nurses have the lowest. 1 in 5 nurses will experience this phenomenon throughout their nursing career. As a nurse, it is important to be knowledgeable about the condition to be able to protect your mental and physical health at all times if burnout is detected.

What is burnout?

A state of feeling physically, emotionally, and/or mentally drained in the workplace. It is characterized by a significant reduction in nurses’ overall energy and work motivation. Nurse burnout affects around 38% of nurses every year.

What are the causes of burnout?

  • Increased hours of work/mandatory overtime
  • Lack of leadership in the workplace
  • High-stress environments with overwhelming responsibilities
  • Emotional strain from patient care
  • Lack of flexibility/control
  • Lack of support

What are common signs of burnout?

Physical – 

  • headaches and muscle pain
  • decrease of energy and focus
  • illness and sickness
  • insomnia/irregular sleep patterns

Emotional –

  • depression
  • feeling of anxiety
  • frustration and irritability
  • lack of motivation

Behavioral – 

  • disinterested in job
  • reduced involvement
  • substance abuse
  • calling out of work frequently

What can I do to manage burnout?

Recognize your stress: Recognize that you are in a state of high stress and slow down. Take time to process your emotions and express how you are feeling with someone that you can confide in. There is much help available including support groups, therapists, or counselors. Don’t stay quiet.

Eat and sleep well: Energizing yourself is a crucial step. Your body needs fuel and time to rest to work at its best.

Prioritize yourself and take breaks: You are just as important as your patients. You need to prioritize time for yourself and take time to relax to ensure your wellbeing. Be sure to take your vacation days so you can get a change of scenery and relax for some time.

Remember your why: Remember the passion you have for being a nurse and helping others in your daily life. Always protect the love you have for the work.

Praise your hard work: Recognize your accomplishments and praise yourself for all of your hard work. That long shift you just endured deserves a reward. Treat yourself!

What are the risks of having burnout?

  • lower quality of care for patients
  • employers lose great nurses due to turnover
  • increased risk of depression and suicide

If you believe you have nurse burnout, have you thought about home care nursing? It may be just the right change you are searching for in your career. Click HERE to learn more about the great benefits ACP offers its caregivers.

If you would like to read more about nurse burnout, click HERE for more information from the Nurse Journal.

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