Self-care is important when you’re in a giving profession
There’s no question about it—being a nurse means that you are constantly caring for others. You are in a giving profession where your job is to see to the needs of your patients. On one hand, it can be very gratifying to know you are making a difference in the world. You get to see the positive changes that you make every day when you see patients get better. But on the other hand, nursing can get tiring!
In fact, “nurse burnout” is a term that applies to nurses who have worked so hard for others that they start to feel worn out and frustrated with the job and feel like they need to find a new career. What can you do to avoid nurse burnout? How can you keep up your passion for this great profession? Here are some tips that may help:
1. Identify the best type of nursing job for you
The field of nursing is a large and diverse field. People in this profession might work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, office jobs, mobile units, private practices, home care, schools, the military, and even large public venues like amusement parks. And within the profession, there are medical specialties, such as pediatrics, cardiology, ophthalmology, geriatrics, and sports medicine. Spend some time figuring out what you like the most, and then focus your job search in this direction.
2. Look at the nurse-to-patient ratio
One of the key factors in nurse burnout is being responsible for more patients than you can care for. Most nurses want to do a good and thorough job with each patient, and when the staff is stretched too thin, nurses can become more stressed and dissatisfied with their work. When searching for a job, inquire about the number of patients you will be responsible for, and inquire about the nurse-to-patient ratio. Finding an employer with a low nurse-to-patient ratio may improve your job satisfaction.
3. Take care of your own body first
Most nurses are inclined to take care of others first and worry about themselves later. But in order to be an effective nurse with a long career ahead of you, it’s critical that you take care of your own body. Be sure to make time in your life for adequate exercise, good nutrition, and restful sleep. Bring nutritious protein-packed foods during your breaks. And after a long day on your feet, don’t be afraid to give those dogs a break!
4. Manage your stress
Taking care of your physical body is one thing, but taking care of your mental health is another equally important thing! Like many jobs, nursing jobs can create a lot of stress, and it needs to be released before it gets pent up and leads to burnout. Be sure to include stress-relief into your daily routine. Some strategies might include:
- Journal writing
- Deep breathing
- 5-minute stretch breaks
- Walks in nature
- Thinking of things that make you grateful
- Yoga or meditation
- Meeting a friend for coffee
- Listening to your favorite music
5. Have a nurse buddy
Nursing is a unique field where you face experiences that your average person may not face. Having a friend who is also a nurse can be a great way to talk with someone who understands where you are coming from.
As you progress in your nursing career, you will have ups and downs like in any career. We hope these tips help you find a way to care for yourself, care for your patients, and feel great about your career. You deserve it!
The Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health in Manchester, NH, provides training for people interested in becoming a practical nurse. Learn more about us!