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Avoiding burnout in healthcare professions

Everyone tells you that your job must be difficult when you’re a nurse. But the truth is, you love it and you love the people you care for. That is what makes you great at what you do.

But the same thing that makes you great at what you do is what makes people in caregiving professions prone to burnout. You’re willing to do whatever it takes to make sure your patients get the care that they need.  Make sure that while you're taking care of your patients, you're also taking care of yourself.

Here are a few tips for avoiding burnout in healthcare professions

Pace yourself

If you’re new to the healthcare field, you’re ready to prove yourself and show that you can provide excellent care. And in an industry that is frequently understaffed, there is no shortage of opportunities to take more shifts and work longer hours.

Your supervisors may beg you to take extra hours, and the extra money might seem worth it. But if you’re trying to maintain a “maximum capacity” lifestyle for too long, you’re going to burn out.

You don’t need to turn down every opportunity, but take the time to analyze how much time you’re spending at work and the toll that takes on your mental and physical health. It might start as simply coming home exhausted after working an unexpected double. But it can quickly turn into burnout.  

Take time to sleep and eat

You’re a nurse. You know you’re supposed to take care of your body. You even provide the same advice to your patients when they need it. But when it’s time to apply that same advice to yourself, it’s easy to rationalize the sacrifice that you’re making. If you’re not on duty to take care of your patients, who will?

If you’re not taking the time to rest and feed your body, you’re going to make mistakes that could impact your patients. It’s one thing to have a difficult day or week. But if you’re regularly finding yourself going to work exhausted, you might need to take another look at your goals and boundaries.

The risk is more than just being tired of your job

It’s true. Burnout often starts with being tired of your job. The days when you dread going to work start to outnumber the days where you feel like your job is worthwhile and important. But that’s just the beginning.

When you’ve reached full burnout, you aren’t the only one effected. The ones most effected are your patients. The ones you were making the sacrifice for in the first place. When you reach that full burnout, it’s easy to become irritable and forgetful. It’s easy to start thinking about all the extra things that you used to do to go “above and beyond” as “not my job.”

Thinking long-term

The thing that is really at stake is your reputation. The things that used to set you apart can become the things that “aren’t worth it” anymore. That is when you know it’s time to reevaluate what your commitments and start saying “no” when you need a break.

Take time to ask yourself how sustainable your current lifestyle is. If it’s not something you can maintain long-term, then it’s time to start thinking about the ways you need to take care of yourself so you can take care of the people who need you.

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