As an RN, LPN, STNA or other healthcare provider, you give so much of yourself caring for others that you often neglect to care for yourselves. Fatigue, burnout, stress can all take its toll. Heavy patient loads, picking up extra shifts, under-staffed units and budget cuts can add to the stress. Here are a couple of tips for sidestepping some of these risk factors so job fatigue doesn’t hit a tipping point.
Warning Signs of Workplace Fatigue
Some classic signs your staff may be on the edge of burnout… frequent tardiness, personality changes – showing a lack of empathy or emotionlessness when interacting with patients, errors in administering care, etc. Workplace stress affects every aspect of a healthcare worker, not only just job performance but can cause physical and mental stress as well, overflowing into their personal lives.
What can you do to avoid burnout?
- What’s your motivation? Before entering the profession, ask yourself are you in it for a paycheck or do you truly have a passion for the field of work. Because of the demands of industry, it’s important to be working for the right reasons, otherwise, stress can take over, and may find yourself looking for a new field of work.
- Find an outside interest. Disengage when you are off the clock. Find an outlet to re-energize. Some find strength through spending time with family, exercise, reading or other hobbies. Find something to give you balance and something you enjoy.
- Lean on your peers. Create a support circle of peers and mentors who you can turn to for support, suggestions, tips & reassurance.
- Don’t underestimate any degree of fatigue. Make sure to take scheduled breaks during your shift, try not to skip meals or grab a small healthy snack to boost energy levels, take a breather – take a few minutes to yourself (take a walk, find a quiet room to get off your feet, etc). Often you are so wrapped up taking care of patient needs you almost function on autopilot and before you know it you’ve missed your break, and don’t have time in between shifts to make up the time.
- Participate in your employer’s wellness program. Taking care of yourself can help fight fatigue and give you the energy needed to keep you on track and also can help keep you healthy.
- Catch up on your sleep. If you have pulled a night shift rotation and your sleep pattern have been thrown out of sorts, taking a short nap can help you re-energize. When you do have time to sleep, make sure you are getting quality sleep – reduce light, noise and distractions. This may sound simple enough, but if you are now sleeping during the day when your family may be home, it’s easy to get wrapped up helping kids with homework or making dinner when you should be taking time to get caught up on your sleep. Neglecting your sleep cycle can be more harmful than you think, personally and professionally.
Your patients know when you are fully engaged. They often don’t care if you’ve just worked your third 12 hour shift. They expect you to be pleasant and catering to their needs. Making sure you are caring for yourself properly will help you care for those who need you the most.
If you are interested in working for a company that cares, contact us today!