Many nurses who are into nursing are here because they do want to help struggling people. In the beginning, they all start out empathetic, caring, and compassionate. In the best scenario, they all maintain their good charm throughout their career. But unfortunately, in some cases, the stressors in their career might leave them feeling like draining their empathetic good charm and leave them feeling all tired.
As a nurse, you not only have to deal with the organizational demands of your quality caring but also have to face challenges like stress, fatigue, and nurse burnout. Stress, compassion fatigue, and nursing burnout are thrown around interchangeably at times. Here are some ways to understand the difference between stress, compassion fatigue, and burnout to help you figure out and overcome them:
Stress, compassion, and burnout in nursing
Stress in your career is a real thing, and you can relate the common symptoms. It doesn’t matter how much you love your work, taking care of others, being with your colleagues, it can have a significant impact on your health, and well being. Nursing has long been considered as one of the most stressful careers and it is true. Stress in nursing is largely attributed to physical labor, long working shifts, mixing your personal and career life, dealing with the emotional and physical demands of patients, families, and your organization, all can lead to a stressful career.
And nursing burnout is a breakdown in someone’s mental, physical, or emotional state that may lead them to poor performance, sickness, and depression. Burnout occurs due to heavy workload, difficult patients and organization standards, and tight schedule. It’s common to feel lesser job fulfillment as they feel like they don’t get enough recognition for their job and lack of support from administrators and colleagues.
And on the other hand compassion fatigue is your decreased ability to feel empathy and compassion towards your patients. Are you facing these symptoms? Can you even imagine being like this to your patients? Even if you don’t want to be like this or not, it might affect you – because it develops over time due to emotional and physical exhaustion from caring for the sick and injured people.
Even though you feel all the stressors are against you, you’ll find happiness in things where a patient pulls through a miracle, learning new software or nursing hacks or skills, or even getting your promotion as a reputable nurse in your organization or industry. That’s why it’s very important to develop healthy habits and lifestyle changes to keep your coping strategies at ease and minimize the negative impacts of your career stressors. Keep in mind the following tips in your mind:
Know the warning signs
The best way to prevent and fight back is by knowing the early warning signs of these stressors. Understand and accept that these can happen in your long nursing career where you work with your full heart. And nurses who are going through this phase can negatively affect their quality of life and patient care. They may not follow through adequate procedures or care plans which will affect their patients. So, look out for these common signs:
- Dread when coming to work
- Inability to concentrate or make decisions at work
- Decreased feelings of compassion
- Loss of interest in your career
- Constant irritation and depression
- Low sense of personal accomplishment
- Physical, mental and emotional exhaustion
- Disengagement from job-related activities and coworkers
Check-in with yourself
Check-in with yourself. Self-care should always come first when you’re going through physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Life and career get busy, and it’s easy to move your days from one to another, doing routine tasks. Take a few minutes to yourself, ask how you are doing, are you getting enough rest, are you doing okay, can you do it – asking yourself assuring questions will help you to improve your mood. It can be difficult to accept and understand you are starting to lose your interest, compassion, or yourself. But it’s essential to know how you’re feeling and if you’re going to be okay or not. If you find out you’re not okay at this time, it will help you to find help and improve your quality of life.
Build stress relief strategies
Everyone is different in their own way when dealing with stress. One remedy might not work for another, and vice versa. Here are some healthy ways to recharge your day after a busy schedule.
- Do you think music is your best companion? Then what’s your go with happiness songs? Some find listening to their favorite tracks helps them to regain their self. If you’re a music person, go with the happy vibes.
- Love being around with your friends? If you’re an outgoing person who loves to spend your time with your friends, get energized with them. Plan a trip with your best friends and enjoy your time with them.
- Love spending your time with DIY craftworks? Engage with them. Have a plan to go on hiking? Do this now! Planned a vacation for two weeks? Take some time for yourself and do what you want.
- Talk with someone. It will not be good when you alone carry all the burden. Having someone, a close friend, spouse, or family member to talk to your problems will help you to recover from this state.
- Find your own relief strategies and go on with it. If you feel like you needed a break, take one! Because self-care comes before work.
Have a deep thought about your career
Why? Half of your problem might be the roots of your career satisfaction, poor organization policies, and rules, and your organization is running on a very short number of staff. When you work for a healthcare facility that has very few staff, obviously your workload and your shift time will increase. And dealing with bad organization policies will also cause you harm. First, take some time, find out what’s really bothering you, once you find out the roots it will be much easier to find better solutions.
Sometimes jumping to a better healthcare facility or nursing career will help you to recover from this state. Look out for what are the trending nursing careers employers are looking for and advance your skills as per their need. Find a healthcare facility who also values their staff’s wellbeing as well as they care about their organization values. Because being in a healthy environment where you can be you, and you can manage your career and life with perfect balance will help you to regain yourself, grow your career.