(This post about nurse burnout prevention products contains affiliate links. You can find our disclosure page here.)
Nursing is not a career for the faint of heart. Humans are living longer with more chronic conditions, and nurses are working hard to care for more and more patients. But despite the many challenges, for most of us, nursing is a calling. We chose this profession so that we could help patients during the most challenging times in their lives.
But who is responsible for taking care of nurses?
The truth is, being a nurse is not for the faint of heart. It is an extremely physical and emotional career, and nurses deal with stressful situations such as traumatic accidents, chronic illnesses, demanding patients and families, and even death. We’ve pretty much seen it all and then some.
After all, they don’t say that nurses are on the front line of healthcare for nothing!
Nurse burnout prevention has never been so important.
Nurse burnout prevention needs to be a bigger priority in the profession. Nurses don’t want to also end up as patients too, but due to lack of time for self-care, it happens.
Fortunately, there are ways that nurses can help to rectify some of the wear-and-tear that we do to our bodies. By taking care of ourselves first, we can continue to give great attention to our patients and their families.
Stress in the workplace is not going to get easier for many nurses, especially those at the bedside. Now is the time to put your health needs first.
And you can start by giving yourself a little TLC on your days off.
Helpful nurse burnout prevention products to help manage nursing stress:
These are items I have personally tried, either at work during a 12-hour shift or at home. Using some of these nurse burnout relief products during and after a 12-hour shift has made a world of difference in how I feel. I hope these items help you de-stress and take better care of yourself as well.
How sore are your back, neck, and feet after a busy 12-hour shift? The Body Back Buddy is a big winner when it comes to loosening up during and after a busy shift.
I was introduced to the Body Back Buddy by a co-worker of mine in the emergency department where I work. He brought it to work with him as a way to help him loosen his muscles during his night shifts. At first glance, it looks a little silly, but when he showed me how to use it, I couldn’t believe how great it felt on my neck and back.
It didn’t take long for other nurses to ask if they could use it, mostly out of curiosity. But it did help loosen up my neck and back and felt amazing on my pressure points.
I liked it so much that I ordered one that day and have been using it at home several times a week ever since. This is a fantastic product for long- term nurse burnout prevention.
During National Nurses Week in 2019, I tried this cordless neck, shoulder, and back massager during my lunch break in the staff room. I liked it because it stays around the muscles you put it on and doesn’t move around like many self massagers. It also isn’t very loud and applies just the right amount of pressure to the muscles.
This device is excellent to use during breaks or after a shift at the hospital. It also doesn’t require much effort to use, which makes it uniquely relaxing. And it is cordless so that you can use it anywhere.
Cordless & hands-free design: equipped with a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 100 minutes on a full charge.
Advanced heating: The infrared heat provides necessary warmness to ease muscle tension, stress, and promote blood circulation. It can be turned off manually, but will also shut itself off after 15 minutes of using (to prevent overheating).
Full-body relaxation and pain relief: comes with eight big nodes and eight small nodes, which provides deep tissue massages on your neck, shoulders, upper back, lower back, waist, foot, tights, calves, legs, feet and arms
Adjustable intensity and two massage directions: The massagers for neck and back cordless have three adjustable intensity levels, which allow you to get suitable pressure to relieve your muscle pain. And the body massager has built-in bi-directional movement control, which also auto-reverses every minute
Meditation has changed my life for the better, especially as a stressed-out nurse. Before I started meditating regularly, I used to have semi-regular anxiety attacks!
The Muse Brain Sending Headband is for someone ready to take their meditation practice to the next level. If you do not already practice meditation, I wouldn’t even recommend purchasing this device. (However, if you want to find a helpful way to find stress relief as a nurse I do highly recommend developing your meditation practice).
Many studies have shown benefits from regular meditation, including reduced stress, lowered blood pressure, increased focus and energy, and improved performance in many areas. And, as nurses, we can use all the stress reduction we can get!
Here is how it works:The headband fits across the front of your forehead and wraps around your ears. A metal strip can detect electrical brainwaves. When specific brainwaves are very active, the weather noise increases. As you calm your mind, the weather noise grows fainter and — here is the genius of the device — if you are very calm for several seconds, you can hear birds chirping. In the end, you get a graph of your performance and a score.
Makes meditation easy– is like a personal meditation assistant
Muse will guide you to a calm mind: Sometimes your mind is calm, and sometimes it’s active – Muse will teach you to recognize a quiet mind and help you get there
Allows you to immerse yourself in meditation: Put on the Muse headband, plug in your earbuds or headphones, start the app, and close your eyes. Immerse yourself within the sounds of a beach or rain forest
Real-time tracking and feedback: While you meditate, Muse measures whether your mind is calm or active, and translates that data into weathers sounds
You can review data after each session: After each session, review your data, set goals, and build an enriching meditation practice that gets better every time
Like many other nurses, I carry most of my internalized stress in my neck and shoulders. This, combined with too much computer work and lifting and pulling patients, often leaves my neck in knots, and sometimes the pain keeps me from being able to relax completely.
For the longest time, I used a regular old heating pad on my neck and back- but the one I had didn’t conform well to my body. So one day, I was looking through Amazon for something to help my neck and back pain, and I came across the Huggaroo.
The design is versatile; if I don’t want it on my back, I fold it up, so it’s concentrated on my neck, and I also like to put in on my chest, almost like a weighted blanket. The quality is excellent, and the fabric is plush but durable. It’s a frequently used staple in our house. I also take it with me when I travel as well!
Melts away pain, tension, and stress with heat, soothing aromatherapy, and deep pressure stimulation
The perfect heating pad for cramps, neck pain relief or joint pain relief
Use as a cold compress to alleviate migraine headaches or a cold pack to soothe strains or a fever
Huggaroo is a market leader, featured in Forbes, Women’s Health, Inc, Parade, Reader’s Digest, etc.
Nurse burnout prevention is possible and we need to manage our stress better, so we don’t end up as patients ourselves. By setting aside a little time every day to relax and de-stress, you will be a happier, healthier nurse and better role model for patients.
After all, everybody wins when nurses are taken care of too!!
(This post about simple stress management for nurses may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure page for more information.)
Nurses are more stressed-out than ever.
It is no surprise that prolonged stress damages the body. Yet many nurses are dealing with unchecked, chronic stress for years, or even decades. Still, the passion that many nurses have for helping others drives them to continue forward in their nursing careers. But who is helping nurses?
The unfortunate truth is that nurses themselves are the ones who must take care of themselves first. Nurse safety and well-being are not being taken seriously by the very own hospitals where we work so hard and strive to give only the very best patient care. Nationwide, it appears that hospital administrator’s main priority is making money for the hospital, and the health and well-being of their nurses doesn’t even make the list.
Simple stress management for nurses
Do some hospitals see nurses as indispensable?
For some nurses, it may feel like it. Even I have felt that despite my own dependability, clinical knowledge, and positive attitude that it wouldn’t matter in the slightest if I left. The feeling is disheartening.
For example, I became a per diem nurse after the birth of my first child because a unit director stated that they were “unable” to give me consistent scheduling so I could plan daycare for my child. Per diem nursing gives me the flexibility to schedule my days to fit my childcare situation; however, now I have no benefits, no disability, no retirement, and no maternity leave – and I had another baby this year! Needless to say, it was a hyper-expensive year for us and caused a lot of stress for me.
But, they knew another nurse would come along and fill my spot. So why be flexible with my schedule so that I could stay?
I still have a passion for nursing, despite the stress.
Workplace stress in nursing is common. I am not leaving the profession soon because my children are still very small, and I still do have a strong desire and passion for helping others. So in the meantime, I make stress management a huge priority in my life.
If you are a nurse who feels like me, keep an eye out for nurse burnout symptoms that could be wreaking havoc on your overall health and happiness. And start taking simple steps to help keep stress in check, so you don’t end up as a patient yourself. Nurses shouldn’t be creating unhealthy habits to cope with their stressful nursing careers. And if it becomes too much where your health is severely being affected negatively, then consider other nursing options away from the bedside. Nurse, you need to take care of yourself first!
Simple Stress Management Techniques For Nurses:
1. Watch a funny movie
When was the last time you had a good laugh? Do you even remember how good it feels to laugh out loud? Watching a funny movie is a great way to passively tune out and focus on something more light-hearted. Especially for nurses who deal with immense stress in the workplace.
Studies show that laughter is so good for your health. A good laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after. Also, laughter increases your immune system by decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
Laughter makes people feel good, which is precisely what stressed-out nurses need. It releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Studies show that laughter has the power to promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
2. Get moving: endorphins are natural stress reducers
Get your heart rate up on your days off! The benefits of exercise have been well documented is essential for nurse self-care. It is no secret that regular exercise helps control weight, boosts overall energy, improves your mood, and helps decrease stress levels. Not only does exercise benefit the nurse personally, but it also allows nurses to have the stamina to give better care to patients as well.
Need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. Which, in turn, will help manage caregiver burden and help you feel your best.
3. Yoga: learn the art of how to relax
Yoga is a great stress management tool for nurses. Compassion fatigue can be overwhelming for nurses, and learning how to use yoga for relaxation can help.
A study published in Workplace Health & Safety on yoga for self-care and burnout prevention of nurses found that yoga participants “reported significantly higher self-care as well as less emotional exhaustion upon completion of an 8-week yoga intervention.” While the control group demonstrated no change throughout the course of the study, the yoga group showed a significant improvement in scores for self-care, mindfulness, and emotional exhaustion outcomes.
Nurse self-care in the form of yoga is scientifically proven to be beneficial:
Stress management. A study published in the National Institute of Biotechnology Information investigated the effects of yoga on stress coping strategies of ICU nurses. After only eight weeks of yoga, the results showed that the participating ICU nurses had significantly better focus coping strategies and a significant reduction in perceived mental pressure. (If that is what can happen after only eight weeks, imagine the impact a regular, permanent yoga practice could have on stress management levels!).
Prevent or eliminate chronic low back pain. Chronic back pain in the nursing population is a common ailment. An evidenced-based review at the Texas Women’s University reported that estimates of chronic low back pain among nurses range from 50%-80%. Yoga not only increases flexibility but increases muscle strength and prevents injuries such as chronic lower back pain.
Good friends can help you manage chronic stress. It is essential to find balance when you work as a nurse, and that includes making time for friendships and a social life outside of the hospital.
Nurses with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure, and an unhealthy body mass index. Talking with other nurses who are struggling with the same stressors, you are can help provide support when you need it most.
Having a good social support group can help in many other ways:
Increase your sense of belonging and purpose as a nurse
Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
Help you cope with traumatic situations in the workplace, such as patient deaths and abusive or combative patient situations
Supportive friendships can encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise
Meditation is the practice of focusing your mind on a particular thought or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. It is claimed to reduce stress, anxiety, and burnout, and enhance resilience. And stressed-out nurses working long, arduous shifts with often changing schedules need this more than anyone.
A few benefits of meditation:
Better focus and ability to ignore distractions
Happier state of mind
Headspace is an app for your phone that has many different meditations, each lasting 10 to 60 minutes. If you can find 10 minutes in your day, then you have no excuse not to meditate! Meditation is attainable for even the busiest of nurses!
Like yoga, meditation is a practice. There is no good or bad. It is just what it is at the time. You can keep practicing to train your mind to do better the next time. And then eventually your brain is rewired by the habitual repetition of meditation, and it becomes easier.
It is not uncommon for hospitals to have a space for spiritual prayer or meditation for patients and their families. However, nurses should also be offered a meditative space to clear their heads and have a quiet moment to themselves. This would help nurses return to their work environments with renewed energy and focus on giving better patient care.
6. Eat nutritious foods
Nurse break rooms are notorious for having sugary snacks like donuts, cookies, or other unhealthy junk food all within an arms reach. Sweets are so tempting to nibble on when you are tired and need a little extra energy. But then a few moments later you crash and are even more tired. On another note, eating nutritious and easy snacks will keep you energized during a 12-hour shift.
Pack snacks like these in your lunch bag to help keep your blood sugar levels balanced during your shift:
Baby carrots, broccoli or other veggies & hummus
Celery and almond butter
Granola and yogurt
Almonds or cashews
Sliced apples and peanut butter
Cottage cheese with pineapple or banana
Tips for nurses to make healthy meals fast: Try making a big batch of quinoa, brown rice, or black bean pasta to have handy in the fridge. These are a few great staples that you can build a nourishing meal around. When you get hungry, you can mix in a protein, veggies, nuts or seeds, dried fruits, or even just enjoy them with a little olive oil and sea salt. The key is to have healthy food that is easy to prepare BEFORE you get super hungry.
P.S. HEY, NURSES! Remember to grab your FREE E-Book “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” below! (scroll down)
I experienced nurse burnout after two years of being a nurse.
That’s right. After only TWO YEARS, I was already feeling overstressed, exhausted, and cynical about my career.
When my mind finally wrapped itself around this understanding, I thought I’ve barely graduated with my BSN, and I’m ALREADY burned out? How am I going to continue in the nursing profession for an entire career?
I was frustrated, confused, and, to be honest, a little heartbroken. I was passionate about helping others, and I did enjoy the mental stimulation that I got as a nurse. But I couldn’t figure out how there were nurses on our unit who had been doing the same thing for the last 5, 10 or even 20 years. Didn’t they feel the same way?
Lately, I have spoken with a lot of nurses about their experiences with burnout. The truth of the matter is that most, if not all, nurses feel spent and exhausted at some point throughout their careers.
Do you feel exhausted, anxious, physically ill, or dread the thought of going to work each day? If so, you, too may be experiencing burnout. Here are some tips that can help you overcome this chronic, stressful state and learn to thrive again.
Seven ways to beat nurse burnout: reclaim your passion!
1. Find a work-life balance.
Are you rotating days and nights? Constantly working overtime? Or maybe just working too many hours per week? That may work for a while, but it is not a very good long term plan. Everyone needs a break, especially nurses! Consider taking a vacation (or stay-cation) and plan a few solid days of “me” time. A little TLC can go a long way. You simply can’t continue to take good care of others before taking care of yourself first.
One of the best things a nurse can do to help prevent nurse burnout is to take good care of themselves. Often this notion is counter-intuitive to nurses because the nature of their job is to continually put others’ needs in front of their own. Ask yourself, what do I need to be healthy? Here are a few suggestions:
What is it that is causing you to feel the burnout? Try writing your thoughts down at the end of a few shifts to help figure out what is overwhelming you. Is there a pattern? Perhaps you need to plan your shifts differently. Are there a few personalities in your workplace that you are not jiving with? Or, maybe you just are not inspired by your chosen specialty. Permit yourself to be brutally honest about what you need to overcome nurse burnout.
4. Challenge yourself.
Are you under-challenged at work? There are so many ways to challenge yourself as a nurse:
Become a certified nurse in your specialty (or a completely new specialty!)
Compassion fatigue and nurse burnout are so common among nurses. Left unchecked, it can lead to mistakes, unhappiness, or even depression. Share your burnout struggles with a close comrade from work who can empathize with your struggle. If that doesn’t help, consider talking to a trusted mentor, a therapist, or find a career coach that can help you work your way out of nurse burnout. Nurses are self-giving creatures by nature, but we must give to our own needs as well. Crawl out of your shell and start talking it out!
6. Find an outlet.
What do you do on your days off that may you happy? If you don’t have a stress-relieving outlet, then its time to find one! Is your inner artist craving a creative outlet, such as painting, designing, or even scrapbooking? Does a day on the golf course or an afternoon on the tennis court bring you joy? Maybe you have been so busy that you have forgotten how wonderfully distracting it can be to become enveloped into an activity that you love to do.
Research has shown that finding a joyful outlet can enhance your mood, increase energy, lower stress levels, and even make your immune system stronger. Today is the time to find your joy!
7. Consider new options.
Have an honest discussion with yourself about your career. Are you a med/surg nurse who has always dreamed of working in the ICU? Or maybe you are an ER nurse with interest in becoming a flight nurse. A change in specialty might be precisely what you need to tackle nurse burnout.
On another note, nurses don’t have to work in a hospital. Perhaps working with injectables in a dermatology office or as a home healthcare nurse would be a better fit. There are so many nursing careers to choose from. The sky is the limit. Go find your nursing passion!
What do you do to beat nurse burnout? Leave a comment below!