Dealing with Burnout

The COVID-19 pandemic has put enormous pressure across the entire healthcare system. Often taking the brunt of this strain, nurses have had to juggle the demands of their units as well as the stress of a shift that just doesn’t disappear when their day is over. In the past several months, we have repeatedly heard that these healthcare professionals are needing time away because they’ve reached the point of burnout.

Trying to push through the exhaustion and continuing as you have been will only cause further damage. There are positive steps you can take to deal with overwhelming stress and get your life back into balance.

Here are some tips in coping with burnout and what to do when reaching burnout.

Find a way to socialize.

One of the most effective ways to deal with burnout is to reach out to others. Often interacting with friends, family, or getting involved with your community can serve as mental break from the typical day. Try to be more social with your co-workers. In a lot of situations, they may be experiencing the same feelings of stress and frustration. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to “fix” your stressors; they just need to be a good listener.

Rethink your perspective.

Find the value in your work and look at the positive impact you are making to that patient, the unit, the hospital, or community. In a world where everything seems out of our control, the power to choose how you respond and how to think will always be within yourself to decide. This will help regain a sense of purpose and control.

Find a balance in your life.

In stressful situations, we often find ourselves absorbed into one aspect of our day. Then, we forget about the other things in life that make us happy. If work is becoming too overwhelming, spend the time you can outside of work doing the things that make you happy by reprioritizing what’s important to you. Are you neglecting something that is truly important to you? Do not overextend yourself, it’s okay to know your limits and give yourself the down time you need. Set aside relaxation time and take a break from technology. Find the opportunity to get some exercise, meditate, and find some way to express your creativity.

Burnout is affecting the U.S. healthcare workforce across the country. With the recent surges of COVID variants, this trend is likely to continue as healthcare professionals do long hours under duress with staff shortages. Those in healthcare need to continue to remember about selfcare too. Recognizing their breaking point and understanding how each person best copes with this stress will help hospitals handle the surge of patients.

Sources: Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Lawrence Robinson

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