“You love your job and taking care of patients, but lately, you feel like it’s been draining you.” If you identify with this statement as a healthcare professional, you might be experiencing burnout, and you’re not alone. Studies have shown an increase in burnout in healthcare workers, with 56% of nurses and 47.3% of physicians reporting symptoms.
Working in the healthcare industry can be incredibly rewarding, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. When you feel burned out, it not only affects your mental and physical health but also impacts the quality of patient care. The good news is that there are strategies to combat burnout in healthcare workers and, when implemented, they can lead you to a more sustainable and fulfilling healthcare career.
Symptoms of Burnout in Healthcare Workers
Burnout in healthcare workers might manifest through emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a diminished sense of personal achievement, which leads to decreased effectiveness in the workplace. Symptoms of burnout include having a pessimistic outlook, self-doubt, social isolation, neglect of personal needs, behavioral changes, chronic fatigue, and sadness, though this is not an exhaustive list.
As a healthcare professional, you can use the below tips as a way to prevent burnout or to help you remedy symptoms of burnout when you experience them at work.
7 Tips to Prevent Burnout in Healthcare Workers
1. Self-Care is Non-Negotiable
Just as you care for your patients, you must take care of yourself. Self-care is a non-negotiable first step to beating burnout. Make changes to ensure you’re getting sufficient sleep, eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and engaging in activities that bring you joy. And remember: self-care isn’t selfish – it’s essential for maintaining your physical and mental health so that you can show up to be the best healthcare professional for your patients each day.
2. Set Boundaries
Healthcare is a demanding industry, and you also have a life outside of work. Setting boundaries so that your workload is more manageable and you get to enjoy your personal life is absolutely necessary. It’s okay to say no to taking an extra shift when you need rest or your child has an event you want to attend. It’s okay to say that you are overwhelmed with the workload you have and can’t take on additional tasks. It’s okay to actually take your breaks so that you can recharge for a few minutes. Communicate with your colleagues and supervisors and establish these boundaries. You’ll thank yourself later when you can enjoy a healthier work-life balance guilt-free.
3. Seek Support and Connection
You are not alone in your troubles, but your problems will stay with you unless you talk them out with someone you can trust. Lean on your support network, which might include family, friends, and colleagues, for emotional support.
If burnout symptoms persist and significantly affect your well-being, consider seeking help from a mental health professional. Therapy or counseling can give you a healthy outlet to express your emotions and provide you with valuable coping strategies that you can add to your toolkit when navigating challenging situations.
4. Practice Mindfulness and Stress Reduction
Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises, can be powerful tools for managing stress. According to a study at Duke University, transcendental meditation – effortless thinking of a mantra without contemplation – helped alleviate anxiety, insomnia, and burnout in a group of 80 healthcare workers during the pandemic.
Dedicate a few minutes each day to mindfulness practices to help you stay grounded and reduce anxiety. If transcendental meditation isn’t your thing, there are various types of meditation that you can try to see what fits you best. Once you’ve found your fit, you can come back to these mindfulness techniques – no matter where you are – when you are stressed.
5. Stay Organized and Prioritize Tasks
Prioritize your responsibilities to focus on what’s most important in your hectic schedule. This might mean you use tools like to-do lists or digital apps to help you keep track of your tasks. By doing this, you can ensure you’re completing the most important tasks of the day, and know that at the end of your shift, you showed up that day and did your very best for your patients.
6. Explore Different Roles or Settings
Sometimes, changing your environment can make a huge difference in preventing burnout and keeping your passion for work alive. Consider exploring different specialties, hospitals, or healthcare settings to find a better fit for your needs and current situation in life. You’ll learn something new everywhere you go, and adding new skills and staying up-to-date with medical advancements can rejuvenate your enthusiasm and sense of purpose in your healthcare role.
If you do decide you want to pursue a new role, see how Nucleus Healthcare can help you find the healthcare job you want. Getting started is as simple as filling out a form and submitting your resume on our website.
7. Remember Your Why
Working in healthcare is a calling. What made you want to pursue a career in this industry? Reconnect with your initial motivation for entering the healthcare field, and consider the positive impact you have made on patients’ lives. Reminding yourself of your purpose and reflecting on the patients’ lives you’ve changed can reignite your passion for your work.
With these tips, you can take proactive steps to beat burnout and regain balance in your life and career. By nurturing your well-being, you can continue to provide exceptional care to your patients while ensuring your own health and happiness. Remember, taking care of yourself allows you to better care for others.
For more helpful tips on taking care of yourself, read our blog on how to fit exercise into your busy schedule as a healthcare professional.