Health & Wellness

Preventing Nurse Burnout: Real Stories and Practical Tips from Fellow Nurses

Audrey McCollough, RN, BSN
July 21, 2023
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Nurse Burnout: A True Story

Nurse burnout is more than a buzzword; it's a very real and pervasive issue in our nursing community. A consequence of long hours, emotional stressors, and the constant high-stakes nature of our work, burnout can lead to both physical and emotional exhaustion.

In the wake of the recent pandemic, these stress factors have escalated. As we found in our recent Nurse Mental Health Survey, when asked what was negatively affecting their mental health, 74% of surveyed nurses cited nurse staffing shortages, 55% noted their patient assignments, and 53% reported the atmosphere on their unit. 

Factors affecting nurse mental health.

The repercussions of burnout are concerning, often robbing passionate and talented nurses of their motivation, triggering work-related anxiety, and leaving them feeling emotionally drained and detached. At Trusted Health, our mission is grounded in a nurse-first approach. We understand this challenge, and we're committed to confronting it.

Recently, our Nurse Community leader and fellow nurse, Britt, hosted a powerful and enlightening discussion on our YouTube channel with nurses who have personally experienced burnout. The candid talk provided a look into the symptoms, personal experiences, and most importantly, some practical strategies for managing and overcoming nurse burnout.

What Is Nurse Burnout?

Nurse burnout is a profound state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. This overwhelming fatigue is not a personal failing or flaw, but a reaction to chronic work-related stress within the nursing profession.

The demands and pressures of being a nurse can, at times, be extreme. Nurses, who often consider their work a calling, might find themselves feeling like drained batteries. The same job that once sparked their enthusiasm and filled their hearts, now leaves them feeling devoid of energy.

Burnout is more than just fatigue—it's a sign that parts of your work or personal life need reassessment and care.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Nurse Burnout

The first step in addressing burnout is recognizing it. Nurse burnout can manifest in various symptoms, including physical and emotional exhaustion, compassion fatigue, mental fatigue, sleep disturbances, and a constant sense of being drained. It can also trigger a loss of motivation, self-doubt in your abilities, cynicism about work, and feelings of powerlessness to change your situation. If left unchecked, these symptoms can progress to more serious physical illnesses, decrease productivity, increase absenteeism, and potentially lead to anxiety and depression.

Our nurses shared their personal experiences with burnout symptoms such as:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Feeling unappreciated or undervalued
  • Loss of enthusiasm for work
  • Increased irritability or impatience with coworkers or patients

Strategies to Overcome Nurse Burnout

Overcoming nurse burnout is a deeply personal journey, and there's no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are effective strategies to proactively manage stress, navigate overwhelming feelings, and fend off burnout before it fully takes hold. The cornerstone of these strategies is self-care, which may demand tough decisions, boundary setting, and even significant life changes.

Let's dive into some practical strategies that our nurse community members have found helpful in their journeys to regain balance and replenish their well-being:

Physical Self-Care: Satisfying basic needs such as sufficient sleep, proper hydration, a balanced diet, and regular exercise is critical to well-being. A consistent routine of nutrition, physical activity, and quality sleep can boost your mood, elevate your energy levels, and form the foundation of your resilience against burnout.  Our panel of nurses in the featured YouTube video highlights how a consistent routine of nutritious food, physical activity, and quality sleep enhances mood, boosts energy levels, and fortifies resilience against burnout.

  • Remember, while on assignment with Trusted, you can gain access to health and wellness resources through Gympass. This platform provides you with gyms, studios, exercise classes, personal trainers, and wellness apps right at your fingertips. Just sign up with the same email you use for your Trusted account!

Emotional Self-Care: Nurturing your mental and emotional well-being is just as crucial as caring for your physical health. Activities such as journaling, meditation, engaging in hobbies, and spending time with loved ones can provide a safe haven for your emotions. Nurse Shiella, featured in the video, shares how adopting a practice of daily gratitude transformed her perspective and revitalized her approach to each day.

  • At Trusted, we provide mindfulness and meditation exercises through Headspace, fostering a mental sanctuary before each long shift.

Seek Support. Never underestimate the power of a supportive network. Reaching out to trusted friends, family, or a mental health professional can provide much-needed perspective and reassurance. Trusted Community leader, Britt, shares in the video how therapy and community support were integral in helping her navigate burnout and regain mental equilibrium. 

  • Recognizing the unique understanding that only another nurse can provide, our Trusted Community, led by Britt, facilitates connections and supportive relationships among fellow nurses.  Be sure you stay tuned for upcoming virtual events or a live event in your area! 

Establish Work-Life Boundaries: Setting firm boundaries between your professional and personal life is a formidable tool against burnout. Remember, it's not only acceptable, but vital, to say 'no' when needed. As a travel nurse with Trusted, our Care Team supports you in utilizing the flexibility of this career path to take extended breaks between assignments, ensuring you have ample time to rest, recharge, and rejuvenate before your next mission.

Each of these strategies is a stepping stone on the path to taking back control of your well-being, rekindling your passion for nursing, and crafting a sustainable, balanced lifestyle. Your journey may be uniquely yours, but remember, you're not walking it alone.

Advocating for Your Wellness: Your Journey with Trusted Health

At Trusted, we genuinely value the essential role that nurses fulfill in our healthcare system. Our philosophy is built around a nurse-first approach, ensuring your wellness is a priority. Remember, it's perfectly acceptable to seek help and take strides towards self-care. You're not alone in this journey, and we have wellness resources and a supportive community ready to help you overcome burnout and flourish in your nursing career.

Sign up today to travel with Trusted and let's be as passionate about our health as we are about our patients'. After all, the healthier our nurses are, the healthier our world will be.

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