Tips and Resources to Prevent Nurse Burnout and Overcome Stress
Nurse burnout is an issue many in the healthcare industry are facing during the pandemic. According to the National Academy of Medicine, 35-54% of healthcare professionals said they had experienced burnout. While working as a traveling healthcare professional can be a rewarding career – you make meaningful impacts on patients’ lives while getting to see the country, it doesn’t make you immune to the effects of burnout.
To combat it, the first thing to do is be aware of how burnout feels. Symptoms of nurse burnout include emotional and physical exhaustion, feelings of being underappreciated, and a low sense of professional motivation and achievement. If it continues, burnout can impact patient care and sometimes lead to medical errors.
At TNAA, we care about your well-being. We’ve compiled a list of stress management tips and, most importantly, resources that are available to our TNAA travelers.
Tips to Prevent and Overcome Nurse Burnout
- Scale back. Identify what is causing you to stress outside of work and think of ways to scale it back. If you feel you never have time to yourself, see where you can cut out some activities or chores (thank you, grocery delivery services). Turn off the news and take a break from social media if these are adding to your mental load. By clearing some of these activities from your schedule, you allow yourself time to do things that bring you greater joy.
- Create focus blocks. A focus block is a time you set aside most days of the week to dedicate attention to your more important tasks. You might want to use your focus blocks to prepare for your next assignment. As a traveling healthcare professional, you’re likely moving every few months, and moving comes with a list of chores to complete. By taking time to create focus blocks, you are giving yourself plenty of time to prepare for a move and limiting any stress that can mount when you are short on time. Focus blocks can also give you the satisfaction of knowing you made the most of your day.
- Prioritize rest. You need a break from the mental load you felt at work. Find ways to relax and focus on the here and now. Whether you are into yoga, meditation or journaling, find an activity that will help you channel your attention to something more calming. Be aware that you might have to try a few options (maybe even multiple times) to see what brings you the most peace, but don’t give up. Concentrating on calming your mind takes practice. To get you started, we’ve found a list of the 7 Best Meditation Apps for 2021, according to Verywell Mind.
On the subject of sleep, the CDC says to plan for seven or more hours of sleep a day. To prioritize sleep in your busy life, perhaps look for assignments with 8- or 10-hour shifts instead of 12-hour shifts. Lack of sleep not only causes irritability but can also affect your immune system.
- Build your community of support. You might not be near your friends and family, but you still have a team of people cheering you on and thinking of you, including us here at TNAA. Schedule in regular time to catch up with your loved ones via a phone or video call. There are several online groups created specifically for traveling healthcare professionals that you can join to find refuge, support and humor on a troubling day.
- Explore your city. Many travelers take up the career to see the country. Take advantage of the opportunities your career provides. Get to know your area by taking a hike, visiting some sites or trying a new restaurant. Stepping outside of workplace stress and into a more normal setting can improve your mood.
- Seek professional help. At TNAA, we want you to know you have access to help. Seeking help is one of the bravest things you can do and puts you on the road to recovery that much quicker. It doesn’t matter if you have insurance through TNAA or not – we can connect you (and your loved ones) with mental wellbeing resources. See some of your options below.
TNAA’s Mental Wellbeing Resources for Nurse Burnout
Employee Assistance Program
TNAA’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is entirely free for all of our travelers and isn’t tied to our insurance plans. In fact, anyone in your household you consider close to you – a spouse, child, sibling, parent or best friend – can get help through the EAP. Our EAP offers six free therapy sessions per event per year. That means that even if you experience multiple events per year, you have access to care. After the six sessions are finished, the EAP can refer you to a professional covered by your insurance. Learn more about the services offered through TNAA’s EAP here.
Travelers who are on TNAA’s insurance plan can access several mental wellbeing resources through Cigna.
- MDLIVE – Counselors or psychiatrists available for non-emergency conditions.
- Cigna’s Behavioral Health Network – Video-based counseling through Cigna’s network of providers.
- Talkspace – Licensed therapy accessed through the Talkspace app.
- Lifestyle Management Programs – Personalized support from a Cigna health coach for stress management and more.
- Happify – Science-based games and activities on a resilience and stress reduction app.
- iPrevail – On-demand peer coaching and personalized cognitive behavioral therapy.
- My Health Assistant – Online health coaching for stress and resiliency.
- Your Health First – Personalized support from a Cigna health coach for anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.
- Behavioral Health Awareness Seminars – Monthly seminars on a variety of issues.
Caring for yourself is the most important thing you can do to ensure you are fully available to provide the best care for your patients. If you’d like to look over all of your options, you can learn more about TNAA’s traveler benefits here. You can reach out to your recruiter or benefits specialist at any time to access helpful information regarding TNAA’s mental well-being resources.