A well-trained and happy nursing staff is the foundation of any functional healthcare system. Nurses, being the primary point of contact for patients within any medical institution, are responsible for providing adequate care as well as advocating the needs of these patients.
Despite their importance, there is an undeniable problem of nurses feeling overworked and experiencing burnout. The pandemic exacerbated this problem, testing the limits of healthcare systems worldwide and requiring nurses and doctors to work long, unending shifts. A study by the American Nurses Association shows that almost two-thirds of nurses are experiencing burnout, which illustrates the severity of this problem. The ultimate solution to overworked nurses is for more people entering this profession to deal with what is essentially a supply issue. Nevertheless, there are steps nurses can take to deal with their taxing schedules without feeling exhausted and overworked.
Avail All Resources
Nurses who take advantage of all the resources at their disposal can work better and achieve career growth while dealing with problems of feeling overfatigued. Resources can include the wellness programs offered by your medical organization. It can be a spa day, a free fitness program, or mindfulness meditation. These are cathartic escapes from everyday life that can help reorient yourself and create a more positive outlook on your work obligations. You can join a nurse support group that provides a safe and vulnerable space where nurses can connect and share their experiences.
If your fatigue comes from communication breakdowns with patients and fellow nursing staff, joining an online MSN program can help deal with this problem and make you more efficient at work. It helps nurses learn skills that help them deal with difficult patients and imparts them with leadership and administrative skills. It helps them communicate more efficiently with the rest of the nursing staff and higher management. Moreover, in an online program, nurses can learn all these skills with a flexible schedule to ensure they meet all their professional obligations.
Make Sure You Are Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is necessary for anyone’s physical and mental well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults should get at least seven hours of sleep to promote overall well-being. With inadequate sleep, you are doing a disservice to your physical and mental health while adversely affecting the care you provide to your patients. Research by the National Institutes of Health reveals that sleep quality is positively associated with job satisfaction and performance among healthcare workers.
Finding time to sleep with such a strenuous schedule is understandably tough. Steps you can take include consistently following your sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine before bedtime, and making your sleeping environment more comfortable through calming music or the effects of an essential oil diffuser.
A nurse will usually work 12-hour shifts. Given the time these professionals are required to work, taking breaks is vital to maintaining their health, reducing work-related stress, and preventing burnout. Nursing is a physically exhausting profession where nurses must stand for long periods and lift heavy objects (from patients to medical equipment). It is also an extremely stressful environment where one has to deal with critically ill patients and their worried loved ones. Without breaks, such work can become overwhelming and lead to unnecessary physical and mental strain.
While taking these breaks may seem challenging, especially for those working during a busy shift, they are critical for nurses to be the best professionals they can be. You can schedule it into your work hours so your co-workers know when you are taking a break. You can also find a quiet place, whether a break room or a private office, to which you can retreat for small breaks when you’re overwhelmed. Finally, you can ask your co-workers for help if you need time.
Eat A Balanced Diet
The demanding nature of the nursing profession can make it difficult for nurses to commit to eating healthy foods. Sugary and processed foods are a much easier option when compared to the effort it might take to stick to a healthy and balanced diet. While surviving on junk food may seem like a solution that saves time, it leads to energy crashes during shifts which contribute to a feeling of burnout and, in the long run, can lead to chronic health issues. Of course, nobody would know this better than nurses, who constantly advise their patients to eat healthier. Yet, they often struggle to apply this advice to themselves.
Steps a nurse can take to eat healthier include incorporating a healthy meal plan into their lifestyle. Instead of packing sugary, processed foods, nurses can stock up on healthy snacks like fruits, nuts, and vegetables to eat during their shifts. Lastly, a healthy diet requires adequate hydration, which is especially important for nurses who constantly run around the hospital and exert physical energy. Ensure you have easy access to water and that you hydrate yourself regularly.
Keep Yourself Busy When You’re Not Working
Due to their schedules, nurses and other healthcare professionals usually work three times a week instead of the 9-5 Monday to Friday in the corporate world. Due to how tiring this work can be, often healthcare professionals retreat into their homes and hibernate until they have to go to work again. This hermetic lifestyle can lead to nurses feeling more burnout and fatigue, with their lives becoming occupied with work and losing external meaning. Nurses must live fulfilling and active lives when they are not at work. They do not need to engage in anything exhausting but must remain active, whether reading a book, going out with friends, watching a movie, or eating at a fancy restaurant.
When nurses do not have an active and enjoyable lifestyle outside of work, it negatively impacts their productivity and job satisfaction. It can lead to bitterness, dissatisfaction, and a feeling that an unjust work schedule is ruining their personal lives.
Without nurses, the healthcare system would collapse. They are the primary mode of interaction with patients, and it is through them that doctors and other medical staff understand the problems experienced by patients and understand their needs while they are at the hospital. Given their significance, it is vital that nurses actively take steps to maintain their physical and mental health so they can provide the best possible care. By following the five steps outlined in this article, nurses can flourish despite working long and busy hours.