Tips to Avoid Burnout As a New Nurse Grad
I was SO excited as a new nurse, I didn’t even fathom I would need to take steps to avoid burnout as a new nurse grad.
I remember how excited I was to run the mailman down (and I really did drive through the neighborhood looking for the mail delivery truck) the day nursing board results were arriving. Back in the day, it was a paper and pencil test, and the results arrived about 2 months later to let you know if you passed or failed.
To be completely honest here, I’ve been a nurse 29 years now and experienced 3 separate times in my career where burnout raised its ugly head. Now that I am on the other side of things, I can look back and realize how I got there, and I’ve learned how to minimize this impact. So I’m going to share my tips on how you as a new grad can see the warning signs or avoid it all together! Possibly had I realized back then, how to avoid burnout as a new nurse grad, I would have implemented some of these tips early on!
1) Remember your work/play balance. It’s exciting to be working and finally bringing in a paycheck. It’s easy to sign up for extra shifts and/or agree to stay over and work extra hours. This pattern will add up. You will find yourself working more than you are resting and/or playing.
2) Try and avoid the gossip and negativity circles. Every job has them. The group that is dissatisfied and desires to pull you into the latest negative talk. Politely excuse yourself from these situations.
3) Have a hobby. Find something you enjoy doing which has nothing to do with nursing. Be creative. Learn to scrapbook, blog, paint, sew, play ball, learn another language, cook, garden, read, journal, or something else that hits your creative side.
4) Learn to say NO. It’s OK to say no. When you find yourself saying “yes”, but inside you really have reservations…learn that being authentic to yourself is best in the long run. Saying no to a social event you really don’t want to attend, is just as important as saying no to an extra shift. You REALLY want to avoid burnout as a new nurse grad, and this is one you need to pay attention to!
5) Nourish your body. Learn to supply your body with healthy snacks, foods, and drinks. You will begin to feel tired and sluggish. When you start to feel physically drained, you are more likely to allow stress and problems at work to start nagging at you. Take time to walk at least 3 times week. Lift light weights. Allow yourself to move. Ride a bike. Whatever is “fun” to you.
6) Realize outside stress can affect your job. If you begin to have issues outside of the job which are causing undue stress, don’t hesitate to go see a life coach or counselor. Most hospitals have some sort of mental health counseling available, and you can usually get a limited number of free visits, and it doesn’t have to be work related.
7) Look for a good fit for a first job. I know you don’t have experience yet, but most of the time you have an idea of what type of nursing you want to do. Desperation will create a situation where you take “the first thing available”. Accepting a job in a nursing home when you really want to work with babies will set you up to have a potentially bad experience and create job dissatisfaction with a potential for burnout.
8) Allow daily “me” time. Right now, I have my peppermint herbal tea that I’m sipping on from Mountain Rose Herbs. I set aside time to read a good book daily.
9) Enjoy time out with friends/family. I’m back to that work/play balance thing again.
10) Give yourself permission to make a change if needed. If you see yourself having feelings of burnout. You start to dread going to work. You want to call out frequently. Evaluate the situation. Is it the people, the workload, the management, or you? I’m not advocating job hopping. However, if you have taken all safeguards to balance your work life, and you really find yourself in a situation where you are not well…give yourself permission to explore areas that would be a better fit for you. Maybe it’s just a departmental transfer that is needed. Just give yourself permission to do what’s best for you.
11) Read good books dedicated to the new nurse, written by seasoned nurses who have been there and done that. Allow them to help you during this first year!