By April 21, 2009 0 Comments

How to beat nursing burnout, part 2


In my last post about nursing burnout, I gave some tips to regain control over your life which can help you manage stress. These can work to prevent burnout for those who are starting to feel the effects. But what if you are already in the midst of burnout and need help to recover from it?

Recovering from burnout will take more effort and may require bigger life changes to break out of the rut. Let’s take a look at what you can do to recover.

  • Take a break. And not just fifteen minutes. In order to recover, you’re going to need to slow down your life. Cut back on committments, perhaps take a week off work. If that’s not enough an extended leave might be in order. You’ll need to start reflecting on what issues are causing your burnout during this time. Once you are able to recognize the cause or causes, then you can begin to fix the problem.
  • Turn to family and friends. Avoid isolating yourself. Your family and friends will likely have noticed that something is bothering you and will want to help. Share your feelings and problems with them. This can have immediate effect as you’ll be able to get some things off your chest and release that stress and tension.
  • Reassess your direction. Understand that burnout is your body’s way of telling you that something in your life is out of balance. Reflect on your dreams and goals. Are you moving away from important dreams, goals or values?

Once you have taken some time to identify the causes of your burnout, you will be able to move forward and make positive changes in your life and career. Here’s a list of things you’ll want to consider in order to move past burnout:

  • Discuss the issues that led to your burnout with your current manager or supervisor. One of the easiest ways to beat nursing burnout is to change your work environment. Clear the air on the things get to you or interfere with your ability to do your job.
  • Change your job. If there is no possiblity of changing conditions in your current job you’ll want to consider taking a job in a different unit or looking at openings in other hospitals or facilities. This might be a good time to try travel nursing. Or perhaps you could go into teaching and prepare the nurses of tomorrow.
  • Change your career. If you have completely lost your passion for nursing or your life goals have changed, this may be your best option. Take what you’ve learned from your situation to help you identify what kind of career could help you reignite your passion and help you meet your goals.

Here are some resources to help you recover from burnout:

Recovering From Burnout

Preventing Burnout – Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Coping Strategies

The Deeper Well – Nursing retreats offered to help combat burnout.

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  1. Before changing jobs or leaving nursing, which is a dramatic step, examine your thinking. Write down things you say to yourself about annoying aspects of your job. Psychologists call this “self-talk”. We talk to ourselves constantly and much of what we tell ourselves is distorted and disturbing. Take the statements one-by-one and examine them for negativity. Then, rewrite the statement to be neutral. It helps to think of what a good friend would say about the statement.

    Before you can reprogram your thinking you must have the more helpful statements readily available in your mind. You can create a powerful exercise by writing the negative statements on file separate cards. Then write your translation of the negative statement on the flip side of the card. This creates a kind of flash-card set. When ever you think of it, or when you are waiting on hold on the phone or in line pull out your cards, read the negative statement and then flip to the helpful statement and read it. You can more tips for overcoming burnout on my site.

  2. Bret says:

    Thanks for the comment Dr. Potter! That is great advice.

    Looking back at my post, I should have mentioned that changing your career should be the very last thing you do. If you don’t reflect and explore what the causes of your burnout are, you may wind up burned out in another career and faced with similar problems. Also, it would be sad to turn away from nursing if you have several years of nursing experience behind you.

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  4. Becky says:

    Great suggestions. For other Travel Nurse tips to beat stress, check out

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