With COVID-19 taking a physical and mental toll on so many people, it’s not surprising that over the past year, healthcare providers have some of the highest burnout rates.
Physicians have been a prime example, but burnout has also been prevalent in RN’s, NP’s, technicians, and other health professionals – especially those who’ve been treating patients on the front lines.
What is Burnout?
Burnout can present itself in several ways, including emotional exhaustion, being cynical or sarcastic about patients, and having a feeling of reduced accomplishment and despair. So how can you tell if you’re just tired and stressed or suffering from something more serious and long term?
While it’s normal to feel drained after a long shift, burnout is characterized by physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long-term involvement in demanding or stressful work. It can result in a reduced sense of accomplishment and can also reveal itself as skepticism and distrust (e.g., questioning “Is what I’m doing even making a difference?”). Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Frequent colds, headaches, fatigue
- Reduced tolerance to pain or patient contact
- Lowered resilience, moodiness, crying more easily
- Sleep disturbance, escape fantasies, taking work home, and substance abuse
- Less empathy, hopelessness, pessimism, dread
- Detachment from patients perceived as “draining”
- Disregard for professional boundaries or ethics
- Negative feelings, including a loss of meaning in work
Ways to Avoid It
Identifying methods to avoid burnout will help if you’re not yet experiencing complete symptoms – or if you’re already trying to work through your feelings. Everyone is different, but the following have worked for many healthcare professionals:
Acknowledge your limitations
It’s important for healthcare workers to embrace the fact that they cannot help everyone all the time. Doctors, nurses, and other health professionals must accept that there’s only so much they can do, and that’s okay.
It’s true that keeping fit really does make people happier. That’s why a little fresh air and a walk around the block almost always lifts your spirits. But as a health provider, it’s hard to fit exercise into a busy schedule, so try squeezing in a little exercise before or after work or walking on a lunch break. Yoga is also a great way to become more in tune with your body and develop strength.
Bond with Friends and Colleagues
Reaching out to colleagues and discussing difficult situations can help to reduce stress and the factors leading to burnout. A friend, colleague, or counselor can help you identify and overcome burnout just by listening.
Find Non-Work Outlets
Another critical aspect of maintaining your wellbeing is creating a life outside of work. This means regular engagement with hobbies, friends, loved ones, creative endeavors, and your interpretation of spirituality. So if you like to paint, enjoy gardening or reading mystery novels, there’s no time like the present!
Keep Things in Perspective
The most important step people can take to prevent burnout is to constantly evaluate their life priorities. Keeping family, career, hobbies, etc. in perspective is key. Burnout is preventable in the long term if you tailor your day-to-day activities to reflect what’s truly important to you.
i4 Search Group – Recruiting Healthcare Heroes since 2019. i4 Search Group is a permanent placement recruiting firm specializing in healthcare recruiting across North America. If you’re a nursing, allied health, or any other healthcare professional looking for your next career move, visit our website and see how our experienced team of professionals can help you find a great career position in 2021!