During the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, nurses fought this disease as frontline workers in the country’s clinics/hospitals. But the mental well-being of our healthcare professionals has been affected severely by stress and anxiety. Even before the advent of COVID-19, RNs were combating declining mental health. In 2018, a study revealed that around 31.5% of nurses had reported leaving because of burnout! Contrary to popular misconceptions, physicians aren’t the only healthcare practitioners who suffer from burnout because of excessive schedules and a work-life imbalance. Workplace stress and burnout have remained a nationwide problem among RNs that require immediate treatment involving self-care.
So, which strategies help nurses overcome burnout and keep a positive attitude? Studies from 2019 have revealed some alarming statistics regarding the rising cases of burnout among RNs. Medical associations believe that we must address these problems – especially during an ongoing pandemic. Burnout among nurses is caused by long hours, lack of sleep, a stressful workplace environment, deaths of coworkers from COVID, and many other reasons.
Moreover, nurses can go for further studies to upgrade their careers and help other nurses prevent burnout. In 2021, distance learning opportunities have made the pursuit of better education convenient for busy nurses. So, students leverage e-learning facilities to enhance their medical expertise. Nurses can acquire an online nursing masters degree to gain the necessary abilities to improve the nursing profession. This degree produces nursing leaders who can encourage nurses to adopt the below-mentioned habits to prevent burnout. We’ve compiled some suggestions proposed by well-educated RNs to prevent burnout.
Take Frequent Breaks
How much time should nurses get for themselves? Experts recommend that nurses working 12-hours shifts require at least three 15-minutes breaks and some extra time for lunch. Unfortunately, nurses believe they hardly get 5 minutes of “alone time” due to a lack of RNs! So, it would help if you took small breaks to recharge your tired mind and body. When you’re taking a break for coffee, drink coffee while forgetting about work-related issues during that break. It’ll help you prevent burnout.
Create a Work-Life Balance
We can’t stress this point enough, but many nurses feel burnt out because they’ve not balanced the two aspects of their lives! It’s essential to set some boundaries between your life at the workplace and your domestic lifestyle. Though nurses aren’t well-known for having a work-life balance, current medical situations have forced RNs to work extra shifts. Being the frontline workers against our war on COVID, nurses can’t function if they cannot separate these two aspects of their lives.
Work out More Often
Exercise doesn’t benefit your physical health but also improves your mental well-being. It stimulates the release of hormones called endorphins (and others, e.g., dopamine) that are connected with the feeling of pleasure. So, exercising regularly for about 30 minutes every day makes you happy, calm, and relaxed. A proper workout routine can also decrease the feelings of depression. So, don’t stick with a sedentary lifestyle. Walk more often and get as much physical activity as you possibly can!
Get Enough Sleep
Some disturbing studies have shown that nurses aren’t getting the required amount of sleep adults must have! It was revealed by Nursing Times that RNs are sleeping for 414 minutes that’s less than the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep every night. A nurse shouldn’t sacrifice a good night’s rest for other responsibilities since sleeping insufficiently or improperly leads to many health hazards. Sleeping helps you remain alert while uplifting your mood and boosting self-esteem.
Develop Strong Relationships
You don’t have to fight your battle alone! Get yourself a confidant whom you can talk to and share your problems when feeling overwhelmed. That’s why we recommend developing strong networks with your colleagues and also with friends outside of work! Having a mentor can help you survive an ongoing pandemic as well. Many of your superiors have faced similar situations during the SARS and MERS epidemics. They can share some techniques to cope with burnout during a health crisis.
Adopt Some Hobbies
Burnout makes nurses more vulnerable to making mistakes. As the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t seem to back down, your superiors can’t tolerate any more medical errors. Adopting some hobbies can distract you from work-related problems and help you relax. When you’re engaged in activities that you enjoy, it calms your mind down and helps you enhance concentration on your job. We can recommend some general hobbies such as gardening, painting, and keeping a pet.
Practice Healing Exercises
Experts now suggest several self-care exercises ranging from yoga and meditation to complex deep breathing exercises. But a relatively simpler exercise involves energy healing that improves your mental health and benefits your physical well-being. It cleanses you emotionally and enhances your self-healing ability that helps a nurse overcome their stress effectively. While pursuing other forms of therapy/counseling, energy healing exercises complement them as well.
Get Professional Help
Don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance when your mental health begins to overwhelm you. There are many treatment facilities and rehabilitation centers for patients suffering from stress, depression, and related disorders. Several healthcare organizations facilitate employees to acquire the much-needed medical intervention – especially the financially challenged nurses. It’ll enable RNs to recover from burnout by speaking with professionals and benefiting from counseling.
Join a Support Group
Joining a support group can help you interact with RNs facing similar mental problems. These groups enable nurses suffering from burnout to discuss these problems and learn from mutual experiences. These organized get-togethers can help you understand “workplace stress” in a better way while finding new ways to resolve work-related issues. So, you can attend a meeting or a conference to recharge your exhausted self and connect with colleagues from many states.
In 2019, the National Nursing Engagement Report was published, revealing that 41% of nurses weren’t engaged at work. Also, this report showed that 15.6% of all nurses suffered from cases of burnout! And over 100,000 American nurses quit in 2017 due to emotional distress. Thus, burnout among our nation’s primary caregivers seems like a grave problem! Now, how can RNs cope with stress and prevent burnout before it starts interfering with their work? We suggest getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and consuming nutritious meals. Nurses should stay hydrated and avoid drinking or smoking. Don’t forget to get some medical assistance (therapy/counseling) for staying positive and preventing stress and anxiety.