Nursing Burnout: What do I do when I feel burnt to a crisp?

Nursing burnout is one of the most talked about topics within the profession of nursing, especially now more than ever due to the pandemic. You don't have to be an nurse of 30 years to experience that burnout feeling. Unfortunately, in a field in which you give 100% of yourself to other people 100% of the time, it is really easy to get that burnout feeling. You may feel like you've lost your desire for nursing all together, dread coming to work, think about work even when your not at work, feel like you made a wrong career choice, etc. It's normal to experience these feelings.

What leads to that burnout feeling?

There are a lot of factors and situations that may lead to that burnout feeling. Some of these situations include constantly working short staffed, dealing with difficult patients everyday, feeling unappreciated at work, experiencing emotionally exhausting situations day in and day out such as death on an oncology floor, picking up shifts every week to help your coworkers out, being texted 3 times a day by your manager to help out and pick up shifts, long and physically demanding shifts, etc.

What's my next step?

As a nurse, you deserve to live a happy and healthy life, without feeling that dreadful burnout feeling.

1.) Prioritize yourself!

What I always tell young nurses is that in order to take care of your patients to the best of your ability, you must first take care of yourself. The danger of feeling burnt out is that eventually, no matter how strong of a nurse you are, it will affect your practice at one point or another. So do what you enjoy and destress! Whether its going for a hike, going to the spa, biking with friends, cooking, eating, or whatever it may be. When your not a work, do what you can to relax and bring your own blood pressure down!

2.) Learn to say no!

Understand that it is OK to say no to picking up an extra shift or staying late! The guilt trick is often taken and makes you feel like you are abandoning your coworkers and patients if you don't pickup. You will be no use to anyone if your head is not in the right place and leads you further down your burnout road. Staffing offices and managers are relentless and setting your phone off constantly when you are home. Remember it is ok to turn your phone off when you aren't at work! It is ok to block a number if you need to some peace and quiet. Nobody owns you when you are off duty!

3.) Take time off!

Everybody needs a break at some point. You work hard for your PTO and deserve some time away once in a while to clear your mind, spend time with your friends and family, go on vacation, and get away from the chaos. That is time that you have earned, so use it!

4.)It may be time to make a difficult decision:

A lot of people have asked me "At what point is it time to start exploring my other options?". Many people have different viewpoints and opinions on that question. My response to that question, is that if your nursing practice is starting to be affected and feel like your passion is fleeting or gone already, it may be time to explore other options. Now, its important to make sure you have taken steps 1-3 already before you make that kind of decision. If you find yourself in a position in which you are constantly feeling burnout and cannot escape that feeling, it may be time to make that decision to look elsewhere. Staying in that situation will only lead you to resenting nursing together as a whole and will only dig a deeper hole that is harder to get out of. The beauty of nursing is the endless opportunities that are in almost every community across the county. Don't be afraid to explore those opportunities! You deserve to be happy and healthy. You can't help your patients until you help yourself!

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