The hectic nature of the holiday season, which brings joy for most, also brings burnout. At the same time, we’re also busy establishing resolutions for the new year (or new decade!), the goals set are likely to fail or be a non-starter once the exhaustion catches up. This is especially true for those working in healthcare, where work does not shut down and many do not get a holiday break. Between hectic workloads and added personal expectations, it would be no surprise if your New Year’s resolutions included letting it all go and moving to the Bahamas!
Beach life is not a reality for most of us, so as we enter this new year a more practical set of resolutions is required. Our vision is 20/20 as we look ahead to these tips on avoiding nursing burnout.
1. Recognize the signs of burnout – While some signs may be obvious (loss of motivation or satisfaction in your work) did you know that burnout takes a toll on your health too? Burnout can affect your physical health and show itself in aches and pains (e.g. headaches, shoulder or back tension), obesity and heart disease. It also affects your mental state; stress has been shown to impact the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for your memory, focus, and decision-making abilities.
If you are experiencing any of these signs of burnout, keep reading for more tips and consider consulting your physician to address any health issues.
2. Build your support system – Squad, crew, work besties, bff – whatever you call it, there are countless articles and research that will attest that spending time with people you care about (and care about you in return) helps reduce stress. A strong support system isn’t just about having a good laugh or someone to blow off steam with. Lean on them to help you strategize a plan for an upcoming challenge, or help with some tasks to lighten your load when you’re feeling overwhelmed. #squadgoals
Click the infographic to download and share with your team!
3. Stick to the protocols – We’ve all had those days where nothing goes right, we’re left rushing from one task to the next and are pulled in 5 different directions. In those moments, it can be easy to let a step in the protocol slide by without completing. Often though, this only makes more work later. You may end up having to go back and fix errors or it could lead to unintended consequences. Take time up front to be thorough. It will save you time in the future (and provide a better outcome for your patient).
4. Schedule “me time” –Compassionately taking care of others can lead to neglecting your own needs. Find time just for you. Even a short break can help you hit the reset button on your day. Some days that may mean sitting in your car just long enough to listen to your favorite song before heading into work, other days it can be that two-hour spa treatment you’ve been meaning to schedule. Either way, just know that it is not selfish; you do deserve it and your health and wellness depend on it.
5. Get organized – Both at home and at work, disorganization reduces your efficiency and creates more stress. Whether it’s searching for your car keys before you leave the house or searching for the right supplies for a patient’s case, those small moments can add up to major time lost. Making time to organize will improve overall efficiency and save your sanity later!
Many hospitals find that utilizing procedure kits and protocols can be a great way to keep multi-function teams organized, routinize procedures, and improve staff efficiency. You can learn more about how Banner Health improved clinician efficiency (and reduced facility expenditures) by reducing dressing disruptions in this blog.
6. Don’t wallow in negativity – Negativity is one of the signs of burnout and its toxicity can keep you feeling down and spread to those around you. It can be difficult to find a “silver lining” in every situation and venting your problems to your squad may lighten your burden temporarily, but how can you fight negativity in the long term? Start by brainstorming a strategy to help create a permanent fix to what is causing your burnout. Bring together a team that can help implement those new strategies; odds are you are not the only one feeling the pressure of the situation.
The benefits to beating burnout are numerous, including improved health, happiness, productivity, and engagement. Resolve to employ the above strategies to shake off fatigue and exhaustion for the year to come. This will have you poised and ready to tackle all of your 2020 aspirations.