As a nurse, we take care of others for a living. There is a such thing call nurse burnout. To avoid this, I have developed a list of things I've learned over the years that helped me get
through nurse burnout and ways to avoid future nurse burnout.
You cannot pour into others when your cup is empty. In other words, you need to make your self care a priority so you can be the best version of you for yourself and for your patients.
1. Get Quality Sleep
We often hear ourselves and others say, "I'm so exhausted, I didn't get much sleep." This
happens far too often.
Invest in blackout curtains. As a nightshift RN, I get home when it's sunny outside. The sun beams right through my curtains and blinds despite them being closed. Blackout curtains have worked like a charm to make my bedroom feel like it's night time. You can buy this online or in most major retail stores.
Play alpha waves while you sleep. Alpha waves are a true gem. If you are a night shifter like myself, this helps drown out anyone cutting grass outside or traffic passing in the busy daytime streets. Alpha waves have always been my go to for good sleep and studying. It helps calm your mind and helps develop a state of relaxation. The best way to listen to it is through headphones so you can feel the vibrations, but I have played it on my phone or speaker and slept just fine.
2. Eat Healthy
Think about your eating habits and be honest with yourself. I know some nurses who like to binge eat when they get home after snacking on junk food the whole shift. Having a healthy diet will not only keep you from feeling so tired during your shift or gaining unwanted weight, but it'll help you feel energized to power through the 12-hour shifts. We are what we eat. Don't just teach your patient's about healthy diets; lead by example.
Another important part of our diet is staying hydrated. It's easy to let time pass at work because we are just too busy. Don't forget to drink plenty of fluids. I would suggest bringing a water bottle that has the hour marks on it to help keep you on track with your fluid intake. It definitely helps me stay on track at work.
3. Find time to Exercise
After running around for 12 hours, that alone can feel like a work out. Exercise doesn't have to be lifting weights, if that isn't your cup of tea. How about incorporating yoga into your day for 30 minutes. If you aren't into yoga, try doing any combination of non-weight bearing exercises such as squats, 10-count body builders, lunges, or push-ups, just to name a few.
This is just time set aside for you to give your body the time it deserves. Regularly exercising can benefit you by boosting your energy and getting blood flowing to your brain, training your muscles for all the lifting we do at work, stretching so we don't hurt ourselves, and it also decreases our risk for diseases in the long run. There are only positives benefits to incorporating exercise into your day. Don't procrastinate; challenge yourself by starting with just a 30-minute exercise today.
4. Take Breaks at Work
We are all allotted at least a 30-minute, interruption-free lunch break for our 12-hour shift. This is time that is already taken out of your paycheck. Use it! As a new nurse, there were many times when I would say, "There's no time to eat because I have too much to do." Find a stopping point at work and put off any other non-critical tasks for after your 30-minute break. This is where time management really comes into play.
5. Don't be afraid to say no
We all have gotten that call to come into work on our off day. Remember that it is absolutely up to you if you want to go in or not. Don't feel pressured to pick up a shift if you don't want to. You need to think about your health. As nurses, we work a whole week's worth of full-time hours in just 3 days. We deserve to relax on our days off.
6. Set the tone for work
You have the power to set the tone for your day and your shift. Start your shift with positive affirmations. Take a moment to yourself and remember why you decided to become a nurse in the first place. Something as simple as "I'm a great nurse, and I've got this no matter what the shift brings."
When I park at work, I like to take a moment to pray for myself to remain calm in chaos, to be able to make the necessary quick decisions, and to keep myself and my patient safe. I also like to look in the mirror and say "I look good, I feel good, and my day is good." Don't give anyone the power to ruin your day or shift.
7. Get a massage
One of my favorite things to do is to treat myself to a monthly massage. Some people don't like massages but for those that do or haven't tried it, it is totally worth it. I have a membership at Massage Envy, and nurses get a discount off of the monthly rate if you sign up. This is my 1-hour of total relaxation for myself.
See my next blog on "How to Pass the NCLEX-RN the first time."