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Burnout: Managing Nurse/Life Balance

Publish Date: April 28, 2021


Recognizing Burnout As a Safety Risk For All

“We know when we are guilty of pushing ourselves too far,” she says, “when we always say yes to an extra shift, or are the first to take on a new project, even when we give up time for a healthy lunch to eat an energy bar on the go.”

This sacrifice becomes detrimental when giving too much leads to an unhealthy balance.

In fact, decreased patient safety is directly correlated with increased burnout, according to a Swiss study that identified burnout and diminished safety in health care driven by two things:

  • a lack of motivation or energy and
  • impaired cognitive function.

 “Remember that compassion also applies to you,” Robinson advises.

Mastering (And Modeling) Nurse/Life Balance

While taking time for your self is obviously the right thing to do, it is not the easiest, Robinson admits. “Balance is fluid—it’s about knowing yourself and when you need to establish your boundaries.”

She says nurses have to make it okay to practice self care and they have to promote the value of self-care among their staff. “You can’t just pay lip service to self-care as you race to a meeting chugging a diet soda.”

Here are 4 smart decisions Robinson suggests nurse executives make today to change their course (and the course of their staff members) from burnout to balance:

  1. Maintain a Healthy Diet
    Bad food choices—whether it’s eating greasy burgers and fries for lunch or skipping lunch all together—make us feel run down and keep us from making the best decisions in our work, she says.

    “Take time to pack healthy foods for your day and embrace the time it takes for healthy food choices as part of your job to promote health and wellness in your work place,” advises Robinson.

  2. Listen to Yourself (And Others In Need)
    Too often we feel that listening to our gut feeling about wanting to say no is selfish, but if you feel like saying no to a project or need that exercise class, it’s smart to listen, Robinson suggests. “Pushing yourself can create resentment and that sets you on the path to burnout.”

    Good listening also helps you support your colleagues when they are dealing with a challenge or struggling with a personal issue. “Just the act of giving your full attention to someone and truly listening can help them feel acknowledged and can help you make sure you are taking time for interpersonal connection.”

  3. Plan Ways to Stay Accountable
    Find accountability tricks that are difficult for you to ignore, Robinson says. “Find a buddy or colleague who will commit to eating healthy with you and will ask in the morning what you packed for lunch.”

    You might even try a trick that worked for a colleague of Robinson’s:  Post a sticky note on your bathroom mirror at night to read in the morning and remember the self care choices you need that day, such as “Don’t skip yoga today, you need it to feel centered for that long surgery.”

  4. Actually  Take Time Off
    Time off is given to us for a reason—we need it!, Robinson says. “Nurses can’t be afraid to use allotted vacation hours for time off with friends and loved ones and personal time for reflection beyond the work place.”

Learn why (and how) to cultivate leadership skills throughout your nursing staff by registering for this webinar. PLUS, get the FREE EBOOK “Communication, Collaboration, and YOU” when you register. Available to AORN members through ANA affiliate membership.

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