Tips for Nurses to Fight COVID Burnout 

More From This Author

I’ve noticed that many individuals in “helping professions”, including nurses, tend to put their own self-care behind everyone else’s. In order for nurses to avoid burnout, it is absolutely essential for nurses to do three things: become attuned with which type of self-care they need and implement it; be aware of, and work to prevent compassion fatigue; and be intentional about seeking out moments that bring joy. I’ve described each of these a little more in depth below: 
 
It’s easy to get stuck on one or two types of self-care. We often think self-care means taking a bubble bath, or getting some exercise. There are 6 types of self-care that can be practiced, and tuning in with how you are feeling is the easiest way to identify which you need most.

If you are tired and exhausted, you probably need PHYSICAL SELF-CARE. This includes taking care of our bodies, but doesn’t have to be vigorous exercise. It could be yoga, going out for a walk, or eating more fruits and veggies.

If you are emotional and find yourself on the verge of tears too often, or even angry and irritable, you need EMOTIONAL SELF-CARE. This is about becoming more in tune with your emotions. Some ideas here would include journaling, mindfulness, or expressing your emotions through painting or writing.

If you are often asking yourself existential questions such as “What is the point to all this?” or only being able to see darkness in everything that is happening around you, try practicing SPIRITUAL SELF-CARE. This type of self-care provides nourishment to the soul, and the ultimate goal is to provide inner peace. This can include meditation, prayer, spending time in nature, reading Scripture, or donating to a charity or cause you believe in.

If you find yourself restless and anxious, you will benefit from INTELLECTUAL SELF-CARE. This is anything that challenges your mind. This can be learning a new skill, reading a book, learning a new language, or watching a documentary about something you’re interested in.

If you find that you feel lonely, you need SOCIAL SELF-CARE. This may look different for introverts and extroverts. Either way, the idea is to connect with someone through conversation. This can be a family member, or an old friend, or simply striking up a conversation with someone at the coffee shop.

If you feel numb (apathy, lack of emotions, lack of excitement or empathy) then you need SENSORY SELF-CARE. This can help nourish your senses – sight, smell, touch, sound. This is effective at bringing your mind to the present moment and will help reduce stress. Some ideas include burning your favorite scented candle, listening to soothing music, or walking barefoot in the grass. 
 
One symptom of burnout that nurses may experience is apathy, or reduced empathy. This can lead to something known as compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue occurs when there is countertransference, or in other words, an emotional reaction to your patient’s experiences. It’s a phrase used by mental health professionals, but it originated in 1992, when researchers noted among nurses “the loss of the ability to nurture”. What researchers noticed was nurses were not only responding to more demanding workloads, but also to their patients’ experiences of pain, trauma, and emotional distress. The effects left nurses feeling angry, tired, depressed, apathetic, detached, and ineffective. Unfortunately, compassion fatigue was not just a phase in the ’90’s, but is common today, particularly in the midst of a pandemic. Nurses are more susceptible to compassion fatigue than other health care professionals. Nurses are not just an observer, but a partner with someone on their journey back to health. Nurses walk into a room when the patient is at their most vulnerable and they have a front row seat into the intricate unsavory details of their patients’ lives. It’s not easy to “turn off” the images or emotional anguish they witness each day. Fortunately, compassion fatigue is reversible by practicing self-care. 
 
Nurses are often exposed to intense medical situations, so it is natural to develop a “doom and gloom” mindset, and it can be difficult to feel positive or hopeful about many aspects of life. That’s why it’s extremely important for nurses, particularly during the pandemic, to be intentional about creating opportunities that bring joy. Set goals for yourself, such as giving at least three compliments per day, or planning something fun with the family. It’s more important than ever to have something positive to look forward to as a way to alleviate stress. 
 
There are a ton of resources for medical professionals. The North Carolina Psychological Association has established a number of counseling professionals who offer free support to those in the medical field. The American College of Cardiology has also established a portal to monitor clinicians’ well-being. Here are those links: https://www.ncpsychology.org/hope4healers

https://www.acc.org/clinicianwellbeing


Connections Counseling and Psychological Services provide various counseling services to children, adolescents, adults, and couples. They are located at 1609 W Frank Ave Ste B, Lufkin, Tx 75904. Contact them at: (936) 272-0555  

- Advertisement -

Read More

- Advertisement -

Explore East Texas

- Advertisement -