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Symptoms Of Nurse Burnout

Symptoms Of Nurse Burnout

During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the frequent discussion in the media has focused on the number of ventilators and hospital beds, but often lacking in the discussion is the number of available nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, and other qualified health care providers. We should be concerned about not only the number of qualified professionals, but also the number of “healthy” individuals who can care for sick patients. "Healthy" in this regard implies mentally and physically, not “burned out.”

Burnout has been recognized by the World Health Organization and is only related to the workplace. Additionally, burnout is triggered by extended workplace stress which is not managed effectively. Burnout is a stress response, much like post-traumatic stress syndrome and is a concern for nurses

We already know that nursing is a stressful occupation. It's easily understandable, too. Nurses work long hours taking care of other people, dealing with extreme physical demands, lack of sleep and other stresses, often get little appreciation for their work. It's no wonder that 60 percent of nurses* say their stress affects them physically. But how can you tell if it's just typical stress or if it's something more?

Nurse burnout is a very real problem, and it's important that you recognize the signs so you can address the issue. Otherwise, your job performance may suffer and your patients may not experience your normal level of care. Plus, if you leave burnout unchecked, your own personal life and health could suffer, too. If you feel like you have any of the following symptoms of burnout, you may need to limit your workload or make some changes to ease your stress.

Symptoms of Nurse Burnout: 

1. You're Always Tired

Nurses are often tired. It's inevitable when you work 12-hour shifts and often go without sleep. However, there's a difference between normal fatigue and absolute exhaustion. If you struggle to wake up, find yourself dozing off at abnormal times (such as when you're driving or at work) or just can't seem to "catch up" on sleep, then you may be experiencing burnout. 

2. You Dread Going to Work

Nursing is often a thankless job, so it's normal to feel unappreciated sometimes. You may even dislike your job occasionally, particularly after an especially difficult day or a traumatic event (like the death of a patient). But if you absolutely dread going to work each day, wishing you were anywhere else, you're likely just burned out.

3. You're Insensitive

Most people become nurses because they love helping other people. Nurses are usually the most compassionate, caring people in any community. If you once experienced an emotional connection with each of your patients but recently find yourself insensitive or distant, it's time to evaluate your own stress levels. Insensitivity and feelings of detachment are two common signs of burnout.

4. You Have Overwhelming Anxiety

It's normal to experience some anxiety in any profession, but especially as a nurse. You're worried about your job. You're worried about your patients. You're worried that you might make a mistake (or already made one). What's not normal is a constant anxiety that's practically crippling. Oftentimes this manifests itself when you can't adapt to small changes without feeling overwhelmed. You may also notice that you have trouble sleeping or even eating because you're constantly thinking about work.

5. You're Sick

Yes, nurse burnout can literally make you sick. Common symptoms include a low immune system, gastrointestinal issues, chronic pain and heart palpitations. If you're catching every virus that comes your way, regularly experience diarrhea or constipation, have unexplained aches and pains, or recently developed heart issues, the cause could simply be burnout.

If you're experiencing any of these issues alone, you should try to relieve some stress before the symptoms get worse.


Now that COVID-19 is here, what should frontline health care providers do to decrease their risks of burnout?

1) Take some time for breaks, even short breaks of 10 minutes are helpful.

2) Healthcare workers need to understand there are situations that are out of their control.

3) Use your watch if possible as a reminder to take breaks.

4) Keep your workplace positive by good teamwork and positive reinforcement.


Here are a few apps that can be used to decrease stress:

Virtual Hope Box contains personalized tools to help you with positive coping, through relaxation, distraction, and connecting to others in a time of need.

Breathe2Relax teaches diaphragmatic breathing to de-escalate stress.

Provider Resilience App offers self-assessments and stress reduction tools along with a dashboard to track your daily resilience rating.

Headspace is a meditation and sleep app that can have a positive impact on health

Nurses and its leaders must also be aware that there are physical and emotional needs that need to be handled. Nurses must learn to make their personal health needs more of a priority as well. 







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Written by:

Prasanthi | Founder |