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Preventing Nurse Burnout

Let’s Talk About It

It’s not uncommon for bellies and bladders to go unnoticed when working with patients. Skipping meals and bathroom breaks because you simply didn’t have the time to stop what you were doing.  I mean procedures, medications, and the overall flow of the day must go on, regardless of what your personal needs are.  Very often, coffee and energy drinks substitute water in an effort to force our bodies to keep up with the high demand, fast-paced environment of patient care. 

But how is it that we spend our day, teaching others how to take better care of themselves, yet we neglect our own care?  It’s as if we gain an extra ability to defer hunger and the need to use the restroom upon graduating nursing school.  We often joke about it, but something as simple as not taking the time to fuel your body with water and a wholesome meal can eventually lead to burn out. 

As nurses, we naturally take on the responsibility of putting others first. But what are we doing to ensure we are cared for ?

Get It Together

So I’m not even going to lie. I wish I could tell you that I have figured out the perfect solution. I too, have been guilty of neglecting myself in the name of “getting it done.”  But who’s going to benefit from that? Think about it. Sure you’ll be able to function for a short period of time like that, but it will eventually catch up to you.  I can’t say it enough but it is so important to TAKE CARE OF YOU first so that you can continue to be the true professional that you want to be.

What are some things you can do to prevent burn out on the floor? For me, it’s going for a walk outside on my break.

So What’s the Solution

I recently decided to do a 30-day vegan challenge to jump start my way into a healthier lifestyle.  The sodas, subway cookies, fast food, and not enough water finally caught up to me.  I was working 12 ½ hour shifts on less than 4 hours of sleep at times.  And did it, thinking I was actually accomplishing something by literally wearing my body out.  How many of us are guilty of the same thing? It will catch up to you. Let’s talk about some real ways to get on track.

Take the time to fuel your body!

Pack It Up

Throw some nutritious snacks in your bag (almonds, fruits, veggies) that you can have, even if you’re on a short break.  Food is literally energy. Occasionally ordering food with the co-workers or running down to the cafeteria doesn’t hurt from time to time.  But carve out some time on your days off to prep your meals to stock on some high-power foods.  It’s cheaper and more practical as you’re ripping and running through your day.

Move Your Body

You don’t need an expensive gym membership to begin a regimen. Start small but be consistent. You’ll feel better all while increasing your energy level- the very thing needed to be productive during the work day. Find a partner to keep you accountable.  Do something fun. Just move

Running helps me to clear my mind…
Find that thing that allows you to tap into your happy place.

The first code blue I ever experienced as a nurse required me to run up 4 flights of stairs. Hospitals typically use codes to communicate to the staff of an event that is taking place at the hospital. A code blue is called when a patient is found to be in either a cardiac or respiratory arrest. I can assure you I felt like I was going to pass out! It was at that point I began to connect how being in shape will in fact benefit me while I’m on the floor.  When you look better, you feel better too.

H2O

What ever you need to do to remind yourself to drink water- go ahead and do that.  Stay hydrated throughout the day. If seeing the amount that you’re drinking helps you to remember to consume your water, then purchase a marked bottle.  Dehydration can cause you to feel tired and affect your mood.

Lights Out

So this is going to seem so basic, but take the time to sleep! We almost wear it as a badge of honor when we walk around sleep deprived. But honestly, if you’re putting in 8-13 hours taking care of patients as a career of choice- don’t you think you need time to rejuvenate?  More conversation on this in the near future for my night shift crew. Prioritize your sleep, and make the time to sleep at least 6-8 hours per day.

The Final Round

The take away from all of this? Take the time to energize.  As much as we try to squeeze in within a 24 hour period, there’s always going to be something to do.  If you’re not making the time to meet your basic needs like consuming good quality foods, then it’s time to hit the reset button. 

Suggested Reading:

Me, Myself, and Lies: Jennifer Rothschild

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