Nursing is one of the most challenging professions out there, and it’s no secret that the dropout rate for nurses is high. The long hours, high-stress situations and physical toll on the body can drive anyone out the door. Good news, though! We have six tips that are sure to help you avoid nursing burnout. Let us help you rejuvenate your work life and add more pep in your step.
1. Take care of yourself
This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to remember to take care of yourself in addition to your patients. One of the most important keys to a healthy lifestyle is to get enough sleep. With long and/or overnight shifts, nurses often don’t stick to “normal” sleep schedules. Do whatever it takes to get a solid eight hours of sleep a night—or day! Lack of sleep goes hand-in-hand with irritability, lack of focus and fatigue, all traits which nurses cannot afford to have.
Don’t forget to eat well, too. It’s easy to look at the time and realize that it's been hours since you've had anything to eat or drink. Between all the hustle and bustle of a busy shift, it can help to set reminders on your phone to have a snack or to sit down for a meal. And when you do get the time to eat, make sure to eat a healthy balance of nutrients. Don’t just grab a fast-food burger and call it a day. Remember, food fuels the body.
While nursing is far from a sedentary job, it can help to exercise outside of work, too. Set time to exercise before work or on off-days. Exercise improves your mental health and mood, and you’ll always feel accomplished after a gym session or good run.
2. Have a go-to vent person
Some days on the job will be harder than others. On the difficult days, it can help to have a friend, family member or significant other to vent to. If hospital politics are getting too extreme, or one of your favorite patients is growing more ill, go home and talk about it with a loved one.
Grab a glass of wine with your best friend after a hard shift and get everything you’re feeling off your chest. Talking it out and having a listening ear can make you feel better. The point of a friend is to be there for you—use them when you need it!
3. Take up a new hobby
When you’re not at work or sleeping, make it a point to really enjoy your downtime. We suggest picking up a new unrelated hobby or interest. Doing this will add something new, different, fun and challenging to your lifestyle.
For example, pick up a new sport by joining an adult kickball league. Being a part of a new activity that challenges you will stimulate your mind and body in ways your profession may not. You will have practices and games to look forward to each week, and are guaranteed to meet new smiling faces. Kickball can also help you de-stress and let out some pent-up energy, all while burning calories and sharing laughs with new friends.
4. Explore a new specialty
If you’re growing bored of your current unit, team or day-to-day responsibilities, consider exploring a new nursing specialty. The good thing about nursing is, there are several different areas to be passionate about. Do some research to discover new possible niches to reinvigorate your work life.
Say your current specialty is oncology but you want something a little more rewarding. Do some background research around obstetrics or acute care. Read articles, journals and blogs to learn everything you can about other specialties. Then, reach out to nurses who are currently emerged in that field and/or attend a conference to network. You will be surprised at how willing most people are to talk about their work. If you’re interested in making the switch, take the necessary steps to transition. Who knows, you may absolutely love the new specialty, and even get a pay increase.
5. Take a vacation
Paid time off was created for one reason: to give hardworking people a break. Take advantage of it!
Plan a vacation several months in advance so you have something big to look forward to. Knowing there is a beach vacation or a trip to visit family right around the corner is a great motivator. You can even start a countdown on your phone that tells you how many work days are left before your trip. Vacations are the best way to break up monotonous routines.
If you want to save money and avoid the hassle of traveling, consider a staycation. Use this time to explore new aspects of your city you had never had the time to discover before. Check out local museums, attractions or shopping areas your town has to offer. Enjoy a massage and grab brunch with friends.
While on vacation or staycation, truly relax. You deserve it! Use this time to reflect on the positive aspects of your job and how lucky you are to help people every single day. You’ll very well come back from vacation feeling refreshed and with a new attitude. A little R&R does the mind and body well.
6. Begin a new adventure
If your current position just proves to be too stressful or uninteresting, it might be time to find a new position at a different facility or take a travel assignment. The change of pace and new environment is sure to boost your energy and remind you why you became a nurse to begin with.
One flexible way to keep practicing but with less commitment is to take a per diem assignment. If you’re feeling burned out at your current hospital and crave new scenery and faces, take a per diem assignment at an acute care facility, nursing home or urgent care clinic. Changing assignments every few weeks will add more excitement to your work life.
Travel nursing is another option to break up the monotony. They often fill permanent staff shortages and meet seasonal needs while working as contractors for assignments generally lasting 13 weeks. You can hand-pick your adventures and get paid well to do so. High-demand nursing positions are waiting for you in hospitals and medical facilities across the United States.
We hope our tips will provide a little relief in your life and leave you feeling less burned out. As a nurse, your main purpose is to care for others and make sure they are well taken care of. But it’s equally important to make sure you’re healthy and happy, too.