5 Signs of Burnout
Jennifer L.W. Fink | NursingLink
Burnout can hit the best of nurses. In fact, research suggests that the best nurses – those detail-oriented, perfectionistic, deeply compassionate souls among us – are at the highest risk of burnout. Why? Because the realities of nursing don’t always match up to their high standards, and the resulting stress and frustration, over time, leads the physical and mental exhaustion that’s characteristic of burnout.
The problem with burnout, though, is that it sneaks up on you. It’s easy to ignore the early warning signs. After all, you think, aren’t all nurses exhausted? But failure to heed the warning signs can lead to a full-fledged, career-ending case of burnout. We’ll help you recognize the warning signs – and stop burnout in its tracks.
Warning Sign #1: You’re Constantly Sick and Tired
Do you find yourself struggling to keep your eyes open, even when you’re out with friends? Or is getting out of bed harder than it used to be? Physical exhaustion is one of the earliest warnings signs of burnout. Pay attention if you’re constantly tired, despite getting enough rest.
Burnout can cause physical symptoms as well, including headaches, insomnia, stomach upset, and weight loss or weight gain. The stress of burnout can also make you more susceptible to illness.
If you’re constantly sick or tired, call your healthcare provider. Schedule a physical to rule out any physical causes for your symptoms. Make time to exercise as well. It’s hard to move when you feel so tired, but exercise will re-energize you. (And the feel-good hormones generated during exercise may actually alleviate some of your work stress.) Plan and prepare healthy meals; eating right will provide you with the fuel you need to get through your days.
But don’t stop there. Take a good hard look at your work situation. What’s causing you stress? What can you do about it? Is there something you’d rather be doing? The answers can help you pinpoint the cause of your stress, which is the first step to recovering from burnout.