6 Ways To Reduce Stress & Burnout In Nursing
How to reduce burnout in nursing is a pressing concern in the Australian healthcare industry. Many face long hours, high workloads and emotionally taxing situations, which can lead to burnout and fatigue. When left unchecked, burnout impacts nurses' well-being and the quality of care they provide.
That's why knowing how to manage stress in nursing is essential. In this article, we'll share practical tips for reducing burnout and promoting self-care, so you can keep doing the fantastic work you do.
Leave the stress at the door
A healthy work-life balance is the best antidote to burnout.
Don’t let work-related stress influence your personal life! Once your shift ends, leave any work-related thoughts, feelings and concerns in the workplace. Turn off all notifications from work if possible and let yourself enjoy the present.
Focus on time spent with family and friends. Create a plan for your time off, whether it’s a quick road trip, dinner with loved ones or trying a new hobby. You need something to look forward to; otherwise, you’ll be tempted to re-engage with work when you should be away from it.
- Choose shifts that align with your biological clock
If possible, request for shifts that align with your natural productivity rhythms. When you choose to work during your most productive hours, you’re likely to be more alert, which can improve your job performance.
Doing so can also enhance your rest days. When you’re not drained from a shift that was out of sync with your natural rhythms, you’re more likely to have the energy and motivation to do the activities you love during your time off. This can help you prevent burnout in the long run.
Mindfulness-based interventions have been shown to help improve focus, regulate emotions and decrease the risk of burnout.
According to one study, transcendental meditation could potentially help to reduce stress and emotional exhaustion among healthcare workers.
Transcendental meditation involves mentally repeating a word or phrase to eliminate negative thoughts and reach a state of inner peace.
Follow these simple tips for effective transcendental meditation:
- Find a quiet and comfortable place.
- Set a timer. Beginners can start with 10 minutes, then build up to 15, then up to 20 minutes.
- Learn a mantra from a meditation teacher or select one that aligns with your intention.
- Assume a comfortable sitting position with your hands resting gently on your lap and your spine in a relaxed, upright posture.
- Repeat the mantra silently, only in your mind as you breathe.
- Concentrate on breathing and try to clear your mind of disruptive thoughts.
- If thoughts arise, acknowledge them and gently guide your attention back to your breathing.
Meditation can be tough initially, but don't worry — it's normal! Don't let it intimidate you. There are many guided meditation apps available to help you get started. You can also try mindfulness practices like yoga or walking in nature to find what works best. So, take it easy and enjoy your me time!
- Get enough sleep
Nurses often face long work hours and unpredictable schedules. Unfortunately, nurses with rotating shifts are likely to suffer from inadequate rest and poor sleeping habits.
Sleep deprivation and burnout are closely linked. Lack of sleep can have negative effects:
- Reduced alertness and shortened attention span
- Slower than normal reaction time
- Poorer memory and decision-making skills
- Loss of motivation and concentration
- Mentally ‘stalling’ or fixating on one thought
- Mood changes and a shorter temper
- Reduced work efficiency
It’s recommended that adults sleep for 7 to 9 hours a night to feel properly rejuvenated and functional the next day. Insufficient sleep can impair bodily functions, leaving you emotionally drained and incapable of completing tasks efficiently.
If your shifts require frequent adjustments to your sleep routine, aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep daily. Enough sleep can do wonders for your stamina, mood and work performance.
- Maintain strong interpersonal relationships
Humans are social creatures. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, love and belonging are critical needs we must satisfy besides water, food and safety.
Fulfilling love and connection needs can lead to better self-esteem and reduced stress. Conversely, failing to meet these needs may heighten feelings of isolation, loneliness and social rejection.
Establishing solid relationships in and out of the workplace is crucial in combating burnout. During high-stress situations, it pays to have a support system you can confide in and receive emotional support from.
Given how situational factors contribute to burnout, it’s likely that others in your organisation are suffering too. When you gather with colleagues to discuss problems, form solutions and provide mutual support, you help each other increase your sense of control and leave a negative cycle.
Likewise, maintaining healthy connections with friends and family can help ensure a healthy work-life balance. Engaging in activities outside of work, such as personal hobbies, exercise or volunteering, can prevent you from being too consumed by work-related stress.
- Set boundaries and know when to say no
Be realistic about how much workload you can manage and be upfront if you cannot take extra shifts. Lastly, learn to say no. Allow yourself to decline invitations or commitments that stop you from enjoying your time off.
The role of supportive supervision
Managers and supervisors must be proactive advocates of a healthy work-life balance. They play a critical role in helping employees set priorities, better manage their time and cope with stressors effectively.
In a supportive supervision model, team leaders must:
- Conduct regular check-ins with employees to discuss workload and stress levels
- Provide feedback and coaching to identify and fix performance gaps
- Provide resources for stress management
- Foster a workplace culture that values nurses’ physical and mental well-being
- Build positive relationships with team members based on trust, respect and honesty
Effectively manage stress and burnout with eNurse
Don’t let stress and burnout get in the way of your productivity and well-being. Take a moment to pause, breathe deeply and relax. Remember, practising self-care is the first step to being the best version of yourself, both personally and professionally.