Steps for Prevention
Go Healthcare Staffing was pleased to bring you Caregiver Burnout – Part 1: Recognizing the Signs. This is a very important topic for travel nurses and we would also like to help you understand steps you can take to prevent caregiver burnout syndrome.
Caregiver burnout can affect up to 70 percent of nurses across the globe. And remember, burnout syndrome is not an immediate response to your environment, it actually occurs after prolonged exposure to stress factors. Therefore, prevention must be viewed as a continuous effort not a once and done fix. Prevention in this sense can be viewed as stopping the symptoms completely, or prevention can also reduce the effects of burnout.
Successful prevention is highly dependent on your personal dedication to self-care and sensible coping strategies. Finding ways to deal with the most common reasons for travel nurse burnout is essential. The major factors include long work hours, lack of sleep, a high-stress work environment, a weak support system, and the emotional pressure from patient care. Of course, as a travel nurse you face added strain from the need to adapt to new surroundings, distance from friends and family, as well as ramping up quickly to new hospital procedures.
The first step is understanding the signs of burnout and if you may be at risk. Consider these questions, in general, the more “yes” answers the more susceptible you may be to suffering from burnout syndrome.
During the past week I have …
1. Had trouble keeping my mind on what I was doing
2. Had difficulty making decisions
3. Felt completely overwhelmed
4. Felt unappreciated and not needed
5. Felt lonely
6. Felt a loss of privacy and/or personal time
7. Been edgy or irritable
8. Had trouble sleeping soundly/uninterrupted
9. Had a crying spell(s)
10. Felt strained between work and family responsibilities
11. Had back pain or felt ill (headaches, stomach problems or common cold)
12. Felt frustrated with the support I get from my workplace/co-workers
Ways to Prevent Caregiver Burnout Syndrome
Learn more: Continue to educate yourself on the symptoms and warning signs of caregiver burnout syndrome. Seek the comfort and knowledge from others who are experiencing the same pressures. Always recognize and assess your risk for burnout.
Find someone you trust: It can help to talk about your feelings and frustrations with someone else, whether it be a friend, family member, mental health professional or social worker. Sharing your thoughts by verbalizing these ideas can also help you gain a better understanding of your emotions as well as provide some release.
Set realistic goals: Watch for warning signs that your workload is too overwhelming for you to manage. Reach out for assistance or ask for time off. Try to set a good routine, understand your limits and be honest with yourself about your situation.
Take care of yourself: Set aside time for yourself, and know that taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury it’s an absolute necessity for caregivers. And don’t skip your routine medical appointments because you can’t seem to justify the time. As a nurse, you know all too well the importance of comprehensive medical care. Good self-care includes: exercising or getting active for 20-30 minutes each day, spending time outdoors, taking time to unplug, and meditation or yoga to relax.
Get proper nutrition: Eating well is one of the fastest ways to feel better. Healthy foods keep your energy up so you perform at your best. It has a positive impact on your physical as well mental well-being.
Accept your feelings: Having negative feelings, feeling frustrated or angry at times is normal. Criticizing yourself about these emotions only makes things worse. Having occasional negative thoughts and feelings doesn’t mean you’re a bad caregiver. If, however, these feelings are overwhelming, please reach out for help.
Take breaks: Sometimes you will have to forcefully give yourself permission to slow down and take a break. Life as a travel nurse seems at times like speeding around never-ending racetrack. Make you sure to prioritize leaving the house, visiting with friends or enjoy a long bath. And, be sure to take your breaks during your shift, it’s important to sit for a while and stay hydrated.
Try “my 15”: Get up 15 minutes earlier than you must and use that time just for you. Avoid rushing and enjoy your coffee or tea, journal about your struggles and feelings, meditate, pray, stretch, sing, dance. . . . do anything that makes you feel good. And commit to these 15 minutes every day.
Organize your daily activities and tasks: Make a list of your routine activities. Look for opportunities to streamline the “to do” list. Plan a better route for your shopping and errands, consider online shopping if possible, try rearranging some things to the night before to ease the morning rush, and consider meal prep in bulk so you can just heat and eat on hectic days.
Create Meaningful Relationships: Sometimes we forget how beneficial it is to have rewarding relationships with people both at work and outside of work. Dealing with stressors and the pressures of being a caregiver is even more difficult when you feel alone. It helps to find at least one trustworthy fellow nurse with whom you can share your struggles. Chances are, they have felt similar feelings and can provide invaluable empathy. Nurturing good relationships outside of work helps remind you that a huge world exists beyond hospital walls. Your outside social life provides an important escape and serves as a reminder that work should not define you.
Set Up Work/Life Boundaries: Too much work and not enough play is guaranteed to increase your risk for burnout. Balance is extremely important to your well-being, and the better you are, the better you will care for your patients. Be sure that your life outside of work prioritizes time for family, friends, activities you enjoy, hobbies, and so forth. And just as important, realize that it is ok to say “no.” Don’t overextend yourself.
Therapy/Assistance Programs: Suffering from burnout or even a few symptoms of burnout should not be embarrassing. Travel nurses are under extreme pressure and literally hold the lives of others in their hands. If you feel you could benefit from some professional assistance, take advantage of any therapeutic or counseling services offered at your institution. If you prefer to go elsewhere, there are many programs available to help with mental health and many offer specialties for your specific needs.
Be True to Yourself
Travel nurses are at increased risk for caregiver burnout syndrome because of the demands of their profession and lifestyle. If at any time you feel overwhelmed, you need someone to talk to or you’re thinking about hurting yourself or suicide, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (U.S.). Someone is available to help you 24/7/365. For more resources click here.
If you’re eager to take proactive steps to prevent caregiver burnout or seeking valuable healthcare opportunities, Go Healthcare is here to support you. Visit our Travel Blog for additional resources on caregiver well-being, stress management, and self-care. Don’t forget to explore our jobs board, where you can find rewarding healthcare assignments that align with your passion and expertise. Your health and career are important to us, and we’re dedicated to providing the guidance and opportunities you need to thrive in your caregiving journey.
I connect nurses with travel contracts across all 50 states. I’m passionate about showing nurses how amazing having an agency that truly cares can be and how it changes the travel game.