I remember one particular shift I had within a gastro ward of 28 patients. There was only myself and the Nurse Manager working that shift. It was overwhelming and in spite of the fact that the Matron on duty sent us another nurse and HCA, the responsibility was still immense. On my way home, I had never felt so exhausted and unsure of myself. Had I done the best I could to support and care for the people who had needed me?
As nurses we carry on and do as much as we can. We work hoping that the next shift will become easier. Nonetheless, the cycle of stress and often understaffing, continues.
Here are a few tips on how to avoid nursing burnout:
Find Your Purpose
Some individuals are in nursing not because they felt it was their calling, but for other well-meaning intentions, and that’s fine. However, if your heart is not in what you are doing, you will find that constantly having to “give yourself away” may be too exhausting. Contributing to nursing burnout.
Reflect and remember why you joined the nursing workforce. Think about the things in nursing that make you happy and fulfilled. Work on the areas that you find tedious. Assess whether the nursing specialty you’re in is really right for you. Perhaps you would be happier working in another speciality or unit?
Learn How To Delegate
Part of being an efficient and effective nurse is learning which tasks are essential to your role and then entrusting the “secondary’’ ones to a Healthcare Assistant. In this manner, you are able to achieve what is expected of you.
Consequently, if your Nursing Manager is allocating you more work than you can handle, you should address this with them to avoid nursing burnout. You aren’t doing your patients a disservice by refusing or questioning work added to your load, on the contrary, you are actually doing them a favour by making sure that you are fit and safe to work by balancing your workload.
Keep a diary and record your daily routine. This will help you identify the things that exhaust and wear you down most. When you have identified these factors, learn how to deal with them constructively either through exercise, meditation, breathing exercises and the likes.
Situations may at times feel dire, but part and parcel of surviving this job is knowing what is expected of you. Learning what is being asked of you is part of knowing your purpose.
Setting professional boundaries as well as delegation is vital to teamwork. Also, do remember that taking care of others means also taking care of yourself. Why not take the nursing stress test and see how you are coping.
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