7 ways to cope with burnout as a healthcare professional
‘Burnout’ is a collection of symptoms (e.g. forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, frustration, irritability) and is when a person feels mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted, often due to a prolonged period of stress – find out the difference between stress and burnout.
When you’re burnt out, you may feel very overwhelmed and emotionally drained. People who work in demanding environments are at risk of experiencing burnout from time to time – this may include those working in the healthcare sector.
We’ve put together a list of seven ways to help you cope with burnout if you work in healthcare, which we hope will offer you some support.
1. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
Getting enough rest is so important in many different aspects of life, but especially if you have a full-on job. The recommended amount of sleep needed for most adults is between six and nine hours each night. Not getting enough rest will exasperate burnout, so once your shift ends, it’s crucial that you make sleeping a priority if and when you can. Take this opportunity to switch off your screens and to instead do something relaxing – like reading a book or listening to the radio – to unwind before bed, which should encourage a peaceful night’s sleep.
2. Talk to people you trust.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, a good place to start is to communicate how you’re feeling to your colleagues or loved ones. Speaking to them about how you’re feeling will offer some clarity to the situation and can lead onto you brainstorming ideas together on how to ease your stress and make positive changes to your life. If your loved ones are back in your home country, having regular calls with them will also help you to feel supported and better connected to them. giffgaff do great deals on their sim cards – check them out here.
3. Have fun.
Pure enjoyment is so underestimated. Doing more fun-filled activities can be one of the best stress relief tips you can follow. Many of us become adults and then decide to put ‘having fun’ as a low priority in life. But, doing something joyful, if only for a short period of time each day, can produce eustress – the good kind of stress that gives you a sense of excitement (e.g. finishing a project, or riding a rollercoaster) and helps you to feel happier. Even finding appropriate moments to laugh with your co-workers during a busy shift helps! It’s all about making joy a priority, whenever and wherever you can.
4. Be sure to take your annual leave.
NHS staff can expect at least 35 days of holiday a year, including bank holidays, and even more if you’re a long-serving member of staff. This is a generous annual leave allowance and should be used and enjoyed to the fullest. Taking regular breaks from work, especially when your job is high-pressured and demanding, is essential in keeping burnout at bay and remaining passionate about the work you’re doing,
5. Make exercise a priority.
Exercise and regularly moving your body is a great way to tackle stress and burnout. Ideally, you’ll want to exercise for 30-minutes or more each day, even if that’s broken up into smaller 10-minute bursts of movement. Take this precious time to focus on your body – the way it moves, how it breathes in air etc. – rather than focusing on your thoughts.
6. Travel to new places.
Having a change of scenery and visiting somewhere new may help to boost your mood and change your mindset. If visiting London has always been on your wish list, why not use of our annual leave to take a trip there! If you do, be sure to get yourself and anyone else you’re travelling with an Oyster Card! They are a great travel option because you can get one before you even arrive into London and you can top up your credit online.
7. Get additional support if you need it.
If you feel like you’re struggling to cope as a result of your burnout, there’s lots of support out there to help. The Samaritans have launched a wellbeing support line for health and social care workers who are feeling overwhelmed and need to talk. It’s a safe space (and free to call) where you can process the experiences you’re having – whether it’s a really tough day, or if you just have a lot on your mind.