Working as a nurse or doctor can be a rewarding career, but it can also be notoriously stressful. On-going stress and constant pressure in the workplace can often lead nurses and doctors to suffer from exhaustion and in some cases, burnout. Mental health is equally as important as physical health and as a doctor, nurse or medical professional it can be hard to self-diagnose burnout.
What is burnout?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines burnout as:
“syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
Essentially ‘Burnout’ is a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion caused by excessive or prolonged stress and is usually associated with workplace stress.
Recognising the signs of burnout
We are all human and burnout can come from multiple areas in your life. Therefore, it can be hard to recognise that you are suffering from burnout and are not just simply under normal amounts of workplace stress. In order to recognise signs early on, it helps to take a step back and ask yourself if you are feeling symptoms such as;
- Feelings of depleted energy and exhaustion (even after regular sleeping hours)
- Low immune system and regularly catching viruses, colds and coughs etc.
- Negative feelings towards your career and increased mental distance from your job
- Feelings of failure, self-doubt and lack of control
So how do I manage burnout as a nurse or doctor?
Working as a nurse, doctor or another type of health professional in a high-pressured environment can be very demanding at times, especially in cases when your practice is short-staffed. So, in order to manage burnout as a nurse or doctor it might help to;
Assess your options
If you feel that burnout is affecting your work, it can help to discuss your concerns with your supervisor or manager to see if time off is needed, or a possible change in work patterns. Consider booking or organising your shifts in advance if you can, to make your shifts more manageable. (Speak to one of our medical consultants* to see how we can help you with this!)
Look for support
Is there someone you can talk to about your burnout? Perhaps a friend, family member, spouse, manager or colleague? Talking about your stress and feelings of being overwhelmed can help you cope and manage burnout.
Get active and stay hydrated
Drinking lots of water is an obvious one which as a medical professional you will often tell your patients the positive benefits of, because it works! Doing regular physical exercise can also help to deal with stress and take your mind off work, and as a bonus exercising releases those feel-good hormones, endorphins.
Invest in mindfulness
If you are struggling to sleep as a result of burnout and are constantly feeling bombarded by negative thoughts, meditation and mindfulness can be a great activity. It includes focusing on your breath flow, becoming aware of your feelings at that moment without interpretation or judgement. – it can also help you to relax before bedtime so you can get more restful sleep.
Everyone is different and it can take some time to recover from excessive exhaustion and stress, but hopefully, with some support and by looking after your mental and physical health, you are able to manage burnout.
*Eligo Medical consultants are a dedicated point of contact to help with all your locum and medical job needs. They're the loveliest people and are focused on making your life as easy as possible! You can get in touch with one of them here.