May is National Nurses Month, a time to celebrate the amazing contributions that nurses make to millions of people every day. This year, the American Nurses Association chose “Nurses Make a Difference” as the theme to honor the positive impact nurses make on our lives. Unfortunately, nurses haven’t been caring for themselves the same way they care for everyone else, which has added to the epidemic of burnout in healthcare that began well before the pandemic.

With burnout already an issue in the healthcare field, Covid-19 came along and pushed nurses to their limits. As a nurse with decades of experience, and as a member of a family with many healthcare clinicians, I truly get what nurses are dealing with every day. I’ve seen the toll their work can take on their mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

Nurses continue to give so much to others while paying little attention to what they need for themselves. As a Nutritious Life Certified Nutrition and Wellness Coach, I also understand the importance of a holistic approach to a healthy life. It’s the interconnectedness of all aspects of daily living that ultimately create work-life harmony. That is why I started TAP Wellness Coaching, which is specifically geared toward healthcare professionals. Because taking care of yourself is not selfish. In fact, it’s a necessity. Burnout doesn’t have to be an expected part of nursing.

Causes of Burnout in Nursing and Healthcare

Nurse and other clinician burnout isn’t going away any time soon. Burnout is the mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion caused by sustained work-related stressors. In healthcare, these stressors can include:

  • long shifts
  • caring for high acuity patients (those who need closer monitoring)
  • the need for quick decision-making
  • inadequate staffing levels
  • lack of support
  • lack of sleep

All of these factors conspire to chip away at the highly-motivated professionals in the healthcare field who went into the role with the mission of helping others. But, as the saying goes: You can’t pour from an empty cup.

If you’re concerned that you may be experiencing burnout and draining your cup, read on for signs that you may be burnt out at your healthcare job.

5 Warning Signs of Burnout

Burnout takes an emotional and physical toll that impacts both your work and personal life. You may be experiencing burnout if:

1. You are physically exhausted

You feel like you can never get enough sleep. You may struggle to wake up, or doze off at unusual times.

2. You feel distant and detached

You no longer feel connected to your patients. You are just trying to get through the shift and feel unfulfilled. You avoid spending time with friends and family.

3. You dread going to work

You lack motivation and enthusiasm for work and often think about calling in sick. You feel overworked and underappreciated.

4. You are often sick

You seem to get every cold, virus or infection going around because you are so depleted.

5. You have constant anxiety

You worry so much about everything that it becomes crippling. You can’t easily adapt to minor changes without feeling overwhelmed.

Male nurse sat on the floor burnout

It’s Time to Tap into Wellness

When you’re feeling signs of burnout, it can feel overwhelming, but you can get back on track! Focusing on small, sustainable solutions in the short-term is key for the long game. Let’s look at some action steps you can take beginning today.

1. Move More

Make time for daily movement. Walk around the hospital on a break, use the stairs to go to the lab, or walk on your treadmill at home after work. Regularly scheduled activities each day will help clear your mind and rejuvenate your body.

2. Sleep Deeply

Create a sleep ritual before bedtime. Banish electronics from your bedroom, keep the temperature comfortable and create a ritual to signal to your body and mind that you are winding down.

RELATED: Create a Bedtime Routine for Better Sleep

3. Eat Empowered

Bringing fresh fruit, cut up vegetables, or small servings of nuts into work can begin to make a positive difference. You also won’t be so tempted to eat the donuts in the break room!

4. Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is a key component of wellness. Giving thanks can make you happier, according to Harvard Health. “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” With this in mind, create a nursing unit “gratitude jar” or “jar of joy” with notepads and pens. Staff can add inspiring quotes, or positive thoughts for the day. The only rule is if you take one, you must add one back to the jar.

5. Practice Self-Care

Self-care doesn’t have to be another complex task to add to your to-do list. Imagine starting your shift report with a three-minute pause for nurses to breathe, ground themselves and stay present.

RELATED: Why Daphne Oz Unapologetically Prioritizes Herself

Beating Burnout in Healthcare Is Possible

By adding a nutrition and wellness coaching component to my training, I wanted to give back to the nursing profession that I love by using my combined experience and expertise to help heal those who are hurting. You can embark on a holistic journey that focuses on your unique physical, mental, and emotional health needs as a healthcare professional. Imagine arriving for your shift with a positive mindset, well-rested body, and energized spirit. You can achieve it and you’re worth it!

Looking to work with a health coach who caters to nurses and others in the healthcare field? Learn more at TAP Wellness Coaching. Or become a nutrition coach yourself. The Nutritious Life Studio’s Become a Nutrition Coach courses support a thriving community of thousands of wellness professionals (including nurses, chefs, fitness pros and more!) in building and growing their healthy businesses. Our courses are 100% online, go-at-your-own-pace, and taught by Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, and an incredible team of expert guest teachers. Find your purpose-driven mission today.

(Images: Shutterstock)

About Nutritious Life Editors

The Nutritious Life Editors are a team of healthy lifestyle enthusiasts who not only subscribe to — and live! — the 8 Pillars of a Nutritious Life, but also have access to some of the savviest thought leaders in the health and wellness space — including our founder and resident dietitian, Keri Glassman. From the hottest trends in wellness to the latest medical science, we stay on top of it all in order to deliver the info YOU need to live your most nutritious life.

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