Feel like you’re running on empty? If so, you’re not alone. According to data gathered from the American Nurses Association’s HealthNurse® survey, 70 percent of nurses put their patients’ health, wellness, and safety above their own. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that 77 percent of study participants said they were at a high level of risk for workplace stress.
As a nurse, it can be difficult to recognize when you need rest. Exhaustion and fatigue are as synonymous with the profession as cute scrub tops for women, and most nurses have accepted burnout as a “normal” part of their job. While common, though, those feelings are not normal, and they aren’t ones that you have to learn to live with.
Being a nurse doesn’t mean sacrificing your own health, wellness, and happiness to care for others. It isn’t easy, but learning to prioritize self-care can help you overcome burnout and rediscover the joy of nursing. To do that, though, you must learn to recognize when you are in need of rest. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the ways to recognize as a nurse when you need rest.
1. You’re always tired.
There is no denying that nursing is a physically demanding job. That does not mean, though, that you should feel exhausted all the time. It’s normal to be tired at the end of your shift, but you should feel refreshed after a good night’s rest. If you go to bed tired and wake up feeling just as tired the next morning, you are likely in desperate need of some rest and relaxation.
When fatigue makes it difficult to enjoy time with friends and loved ones, prevents you from exercising, or keeps you from participating in the hobbies and activities you once loved, it’s time to take a step back.
2. You dread going to work.
You probably decided to go to nursing school because you are driven by a passion to help others. If that passion has faded, though, and you find yourself dreading your next shift as soon as you punch out for the day, you are likely experiencing burnout.
Working in healthcare is extremely demanding, and many nurses feel overworked and underappreciated. Feeling this way day after day could mean that you are taking on too many responsibilities, working too many hours, or even working with the wrong people.
In any case, feeling a sense of dread about putting on your men’s nursing shoes and going to work is not good for you or your patients. If you are feeling this way, it’s time to take a break and think about what changes you can make to rediscover your passion for nursing. Sometimes, you just need some rest to clear your head and decide what to do next.
3. You’re just “going through the motions.”
Once you have a few years of experience under your belt, you will likely possess enough knowledge to be able to complete several work-related tasks on autopilot. This can be dangerous, though, if you are truly unable to focus on the task at hand. If you are just “going through the motions” based on what you know rather than paying attention to what you are doing, you could make serious mistakes. Feeling disconnected from your work is a common sign of burnout that indicates your brain is in serious need of some rest.
The sensation that you are merely going through the motions could be related to compassion fatigue, too. Years of emotional stress combined with the day-to-day pressures of dealing with loss, fear, and pain takes a serious toll and can leave even the most stoic nurses struggling emotionally. If you feel like you are failing as a nurse, have become detached from your patients, or feel cynical about your career, compassion fatigue could be to blame.
Implementing a Self-Care Plan
If you relate to any of the statements above, implementing a self-care plan is the best way to start giving yourself the rest you need. When you spend most of your day caring for others, you need to make a deliberate effort to provide for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Doing so reduces stress, enhances empathy, and improves the quality of care you give your patients. Making time for self-care also means that you are giving yourself opportunities to rest and recharge. Taking care of yourself is even mandated by the American Nurses Association’s Code of Ethics.
To implement a self-care routine, begin by assessing your current mental, physical, and emotional wellness. You may also want to consider your spiritual and economic well-being and examine the health of your relationships. With this knowledge, you can determine what areas are lacking and come up with ways to fulfill your needs.
Keep in mind that self-care includes anything you do to enhance your well-being. There is no right or wrong way to take care of yourself. For some people, self-care looks like going to the gym daily and getting weekly massages. For others, it’s spending time with friends or attending religious services. For you, it might be sleeping in on your days off and meditating. Your self-care plan should include the things that make you feel happy and refreshed. And your plan should evolve over time to meet your current needs.
The Bottom Line
Everyone needs rest. While many adults spend too many hours working and not enough sleeping, you don’t need to live your life in a blur of fatigue. Your main priority as a nurse may be taking care of others, but you need to take care of yourself, too. Learning to recognize when you need rest and making self-care a priority in your life makes a huge difference. It takes time, but, once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you’ll likely rediscover your love of nursing and be able to more fully enjoy your time off. Before you know it, you’ll feel like a brand-new person!
Diksha Rai is a professional content writer. She is very passionate about writing articles related to health, diet, weight loss, yoga and fitness. I have been inspired by the most prolific weight loss authors and have a desire to become fastidious researcher with an excellent talent for divining future situations.