You might have this image of the smiling, selfless nurse. But, in reality, many of them are suffering in silence. Nursing is a tough job, and even the toughest have to deal with mental, emotional, and physical fatigue at some point. Most of them can get out of it, but it takes help, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Many nurses end up quitting or going on long hiatus because of a slump as well. If you’re a nurse and are having trouble getting through the day, here are a few things you can try.
Look at Another Position
The first thing you should do is check if your heart is still in it. You need to make sure that you still have something to give or else your health and the health of your patients will be at risk.
Know that nursing is a very valuable skill and you have a set of expertise that works well in other fields. Nurses are needed to do forensic work with law enforcement. Some decide to move into research or even become salespeople for pharmaceutical companies. These are all positions that will allow you to use your knowledge of nursing and healthcare and work in a whole different role.
You can also decide to specialize yourself or get higher credentials so you can work in a supervisory role. You could even look at running your own practice. Many states allow NPs to run their practice. You could then look for great nurse practitioner programs that will allow you to get your qualifications from the comfort of your home.
Many decide to take a break during that time, but that’s not something everyone can afford. A good option would be to move to a part-time schedule. You could also try to arrange something with your employer. Let them know of your situation and that you want to go back to school. They might be able to accommodate a schedule that will work for you.
Another option would be to move to another department or change nursing jobs completely. Or maybe you could change locations. If you’re living in a big city, the pressure might be too much for you. You could instead decide to move to a smaller clinic in a rural area.
You would still have a chance to make a difference, as a matter of fact, these are the communities that need help the most. You’ll also enjoy a more comfortable pace and get to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Look at Your Life
You also need to look at the way you live. How is your diet? Do you make time for yourself? Are you still the one taking care of most chores around the house?
These are all things you will need to consider and correct if there are adjustments to be made. If you don’t get enough sleep or if it’s bad, then you need to adopt better habits and look at your environment. You need to make sure that it’s as conducive to sleep as possible.
If you have the habit of watching TV or any screen before going to sleep, try to switch to audio like interviews or podcasts instead. That’s because watching screens right before sleep is said to disrupt sleep cycles.
Make sure that your room is properly conditioned and pitch black. This is especially important for nurses working the night shift. You need to make sure that no light enters the room. Again, this could cause your internal clock to be confused and think that it’s still day. In this case, good window treatments are important. If the light is still getting in, look into blackout curtains.
Another thing you have to make sure of is that the temperature in the room never goes above 70F. The optimal temperature for sleep is around 65F, so aim for that. Also, make sure that your mattress doesn’t retain heat as it will make it more difficult to sleep.
Improve Your Diet
The next thing you have to do is look at your diet and see where you could improve. Diet is very important to your energy levels, and you have to be very careful here.
For instance, what’s your relationship with coffee? Do you absolutely need coffee to get through the day? Drinking a coffee in the morning might feel good at first, but you might find yourself dragging your feet in the afternoon.
That’s even worse if you had a horrible dinner that left you sluggish. You want to avoid saturated fats as much as possible. Instead, go for a diet full of complex carbs, healthy fats, and protein. Complex carbs are what will give you a steady dose of energy all through the day.
You’ll be more alert and have an overall better mood. You also want to snack smartly to keep those energy levels high. Things like fruits and yogurt, low-sugar trail mix, and pita with hummus are all great snack choices that will give you the energy boost that you need without the crash.
Get Some Help
You also have to know that fatigue could be a sign of something deeper. Sometimes, tragedy will be the trigger that pushes nurses toward burnout. Or some might not feel appreciated enough where they’re working or by their family.
In all of these cases, only support will help. You need to sit down with someone and let them know your situation. Most employers will have resources for nurses in distress, but there are also other resources for you out there. For instance, the American Nurses Association has a few resources available for nurses in distress like books, webinars, and agreements with service partners. Make sure that you look for support from your family as well and let them know what you’re going through. If you’re a nurse and are finding yourself having trouble getting through the day, follow our advice. Act quickly before things start to deteriorate.