How can you avoid nursing burnout?

Nursing burnout may affect some in the community but it doesn’t have to be your fate. Being proactive about your well-being can help ward off emotional exhaustion and keep you at your best—both at work and at home. Here are some strategies to maintain your zest for nursing:

  1. Put yourself first

It’s just like how flight attendants instruct you to place your oxygen mask on first before helping others, says Jeanne Dockins, RN, BSN, CNOR. When you’re in a profession that prioritizes caring for others, it’s easy to forget about yourself. But putting yourself first can be a useful way to ward off nursing burnout.

“As a surgical nurse for over 30 years, I learned the most important thing a nurse can do to avoid burnout is to learn to love yourself first. If you don’t love yourself, you become a super slave to your patients, partner and children. When you love yourself first, you can recognize when enough is enough and readjust to live your best life for you, your loved ones and your patients.”

Practice what you preach by doing something for yourself that you enjoy every day, no matter how small. Prioritize your mental health and schedule intentional time to relax and unwind—and don’t forget to make sure you’re getting enough sleep.

  1. Manage your stress and emotions

Don’t ignore growing feelings of stress or grief. Addressing these can help keep burnout at bay. Find a good listener to vent to or confide in after a tough day. Or, after a particularly taxing shift, debrief to someone in a way that respects your patients’ privacy so you can leave your emotional baggage at work instead of bringing it home. Stress management techniques, such as meditating, exercise and journaling can be extremely helpful for nurses to blow off steam as well.

  1. Know the signs and ask for help when you need it

Just by reading this article, you’re arming yourself with the information you need to protect yourself against nursing burnout. Be cognizant of the signs of burnout in yourself—exhaustion, alienation and disengagement—and reach out for help sooner rather than later.

“Know the signs, talk about it and ask for help to share the burden,” suggests recognition expert Sarah McVanel MSc, PCC, CHRL, CSODP. “There is no shame in talking about it—connection and support are key.”

Protect your passion

Nursing burnout can occur anytime—whether you’re burning the candle at both ends as a student or working your way up the ranks as an RN—but it doesn’t have to be this way. Utilize preventative measures and strategies to preserve your passion for nursing and maintain your well-being as you begin your career.


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