Nurses make up the most of the healthcare system and majorly contribute to the functionality of medical facilities, including hospitals, care homes and clinics. They are tasked with different responsibilities, including administering medication and caring for terminally ill patients.

While most of the time, the rewards, including personal fulfillment, can be satisfying, nurses sometimes experience physical and emotional exhaustion. This can be due to different reasons such as working for long hours, offering emotional support to patient's families, and dealing with stressful events most of the time.

Burnouts can affect a nurse's productivity, including how the quality of service they provide to patients. Here is how you can tell whether you are emotionally or physically exhausted at your place of work.

How to notice nurse burnout?

Identifying the symptoms of burnout is the first step that facilitates recovery. Nursing burnouts can surface in different ways, but the three typical components of burnout include:

· Emotional exhaustion.  It is possible to have burnout with no physical exhaustion. When you are emotionally tired, you lack the innate drive to get up, go to work or finish your day's tasks. This feeling gets worse as each day passes.

· Depersonalization. Feelings of exhaustion can result in compassion fatigue. You develop an impersonal response to patients and may sometimes have no empathy. Instead of seeing them as human beings, they appear as objects that require fixing.

· Dissatisfaction. High-stress levels can make you feel incompetent at what you do, including the quality of care you provide. You start dreading the things that were once passionate to you, such as checking on patients or sometimes making dinner for your children at home.

It is normal for healthcare workers to experience negative emotions such as periods of emotional exhaustion and lack of motivation once in a while. However, having these feelings with the passing of each day can be a sign of burnout. Fortunately, the following different practices can help you recover from burnout and prevent future occurrences.

How can I address nurse burnouts?

1. Identify what emotions you are having

You can only recover from burnout after dealing with the emotions you are experiencing. Identifying what exactly you are feeling helps you come up with a plan of action. Although thinking about these emotions may be helpful, writing them down will help you move forward. Do not be ashamed of genuinely expressing how you feel, as being honest with yourself will help you address the burnout. You can note down if you have been feeling:

  • Disconnected

  • Lack of purpose

  • Anxious and fearful of making a mistake

2. Prioritize your well-being

Putting yourself first may look selfish, especially for nurses whose jobs entail caring for other people. However, to provide the best services, you need to be whole as a service provider. 

Working under high-stress levels can have detrimental results including misdiagnosis, and confusion in your department. If you have symptoms of burnout, you need to connect with yourself by practicing self-reflection. You can do this in a serene environment with minimal to no distractions.

Self-reflecting helps you decipher what emotions you have and makes you more aware of the present moment. Prioritizing your well-being may also include self-care measures such as getting enough sleep and engaging in physical exercise.

3. Take a break

Taking some time away from work can help you recharge physically and offload the overwhelming thoughts. Simple activities such as walking down the park can help you release some negative emotions.

A mental break may also involve minimal activities such as meditating, reflecting, and journaling. A vacation or retreat by yourself or with a group of friends will help you detach and give you more clarity or insight on the things you wrote down.

4. Get external help

This may include talking to your therapist or your colleagues at work. This is a healthy way to eliminate negative emotions. Talking to your nurse friend about how you feel will help you understand that you are not alone. Listening to other healthcare providers can also help you feel much better about your situation.

The responsibilities of a nurse can be taxing both physically and emotionally. However, going through an online learning resource for nurses can help you better your experience as a nurse.