Nursing is a stressful and exhausting job even during typical times. Add a pandemic to the mix, and it should come as no surprise that countless nurses are experiencing burnout and mental health struggles. Working long hours, risking exposure to COVID, and spending little time with friends and loved ones takes its toll, and it’s normal to feel depressed, anxious, fearful, and/or stressed out.
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If you are feeling burnt out, it is important to recognize that you are not alone. Countless healthcare professionals are experiencing the same thing. Keep in mind, too, that there are things you can do to re-energize yourself and make it through this challenging time. From buying cute printed scrub tops to give yourself a cute new look to taking care of your physical health, here a few ways to cope with burnout.
New Look, New You
Buying new scrubs will not change the fact that we are living through a global pandemic. But doing so can make getting up and going to work each day a bit more enjoyable. If you are feeling burnt out, treating yourself to some new gear can improve your state of mind. A new work wardrobe can boost your confidence and make you feel better in general. There is just something about wearing nice new clothes that makes you feel good.
Consider treating yourself to some new footwear, too. If you have been wearing the same shoes for several months and are spending tons of time on your feet each day, it’s time to replace them. Buy high-quality women’s or men’s nursing shoes that suit your style and will withstand the rigors of your job. Good shoes go a long way toward helping you feel less exhausted at the end of a long shift.
Keep Your Schedule as Consistent as Possible
The COVID-19 outbreak has brought unprecedented challenges and impacted people all around the world. Recognize that this is an unusual situation, and accept that there are limited resources for dealing with it. During this difficult time, it may feel like you have very little control over your life and what is going on around you.
There are, however, things you can control.
When possible, try to maintain a consistent schedule. While your work schedule may change, do your best to stick to a routine. Get adequate sleep, eat healthy meals at home and work, and take breaks during the day to rest, talk with supportive co-workers, etc. Doing so will help you maintain some sense of control in your life and can make dealing with COVID-related uncertainty a bit easier.
Make Time for Relaxing Activities
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If your daily routine consists of going to work, coming home, and going to bed, you are going to feel burned out. Taking time for relaxing and enjoyable activities is crucial, even when you are working long hours. Doing so gives you a chance to unwind and is great for your mental health.
Keep in mind that relaxing activities don’t have to take a lot of time or cost a lot of money. You could simply take a hot bubble bath at home or spend some time reading for pleasure for a little while before heading to bed each evening. Getting massages and going to the spa are great ways to relax, but they certainly are not the only ways! When time and/or money is limited, finding ways to relax at home is a great way to take care of yourself and recover from burnout.
Talk to Someone
Talking to someone is a good way to let go of things that are bothering you. It could be an understanding co-worker, spouse, or friend. As long as they are willing to listen and provide the compassion you need, you can talk to just about anyone.
If you find that you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or other issues that are significantly impacting your daily life, however, consider talking to a counselor or therapist. There are plenty of resources out there, and there is no shame in taking advantage of them. When you are having a hard time, speaking with a professional is a smart way to take control of your mental health and emotional well-being.
For many nurses, dealing with COVID all day at work and then returning home to be treated like their family’s personal source of COVID-related updates and information contributes significantly to burnout. If this sounds familiar, you may need to work on setting boundaries between your work life and your home life.
While it is often difficult to do so, try to leave your worries about the pandemic at work when you leave for the day. Ask your friends and loved ones to avoid treating you as their personal source of COVID information. Request that they respect your boundaries and allow you to enjoy your time at home as an escape from the stress of your job.
With the COVID-19 pandemic raging on for over a year now, it is completely natural for healthcare professionals to be feeling burnt out. If you are struggling with this, there are plenty of things you can do to re-energize yourself, boost your mood, and overcome the challenges you are facing. If you find that self-care is not working, though, do not hesitate to reach out for help. Many organizations have implemented counseling and therapeutic services for their staff. Taking advantage of them is an excellent way to take care of yourself.
As more and more people are being vaccinated against COVID, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Even in a post-COVID world, though, nurses will still have challenging jobs and experience burnout. Remember to take care of yourself, and accept that feeling stressed and burnt out is normal. You are doing an exhausting job and shouldn’t judge yourself for experiencing human emotions.