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How healthcare workers can avoid burnout

If you are worried about overwhelming somebody, ask them whether they can listen to your problems.

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A nurse prepares a dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Taboga Island in Panama on May 21, 2021 - Copyright AFP NISHA BHANDARI
A nurse prepares a dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Taboga Island in Panama on May 21, 2021 - Copyright AFP NISHA BHANDARI

The British Medical Journal revealed that levels of staff burnout within the care sector in the UK are consistently high. According to the 2023 NHS workforce survey, 1 in 3 healthcare workers feel burned out. 

This leads to calls to the government (and the soon to be elected government) to focus on the the mental and physical well-being of some of the most hard-working teams in the UK. 

Despite only 27 percent of healthcare workers feeling that there are enough members of staff in each ward, as reported in a 2021 survey, there has been very little government support. 

Patient safety experts at Radar Healthcare have explained to Digital Journal about the simple yet effective methods of self-care, for healthcare workers to use during times of crisis and help them to successfully switch off after a long shift. 

Try to calm your mind after a stressful day. A recent article highlighted how re-watching a television programme that you have previously seen can be a great way to reduce anxiety, as you will know exactly what to expect. The same article also indicated that this feeling of control could be useful for a healthcare worker who may feel very little control over their work at times. 

Don’t take work home with you. One of the easiest ways to burn yourself out is to take a stressful day at work back home with you. As difficult as it may be, you have to tell yourself that your home life and work life are completely separate from one another – otherwise, you may as well be at work 24/7. Home is your safe space, where you can think about friends, family, and what you are going to have for tea that night – do not let things you cannot control taint your peaceful sanctum. 

Share your thoughts with other people. While a lot of people avoid doing this as they do not want to ‘trauma dump’ on somebody who may be experiencing something difficult themselves, talking things out allows self-expression and the opportunity to receive helpful advice. If you are worried about overwhelming somebody, ask them whether they can listen to your problems – if they have too much on their plate already, this is their chance to let you know. Once you have opened a channel of support and communication, it can always be there to fall back on when times get tough. 

Try not to let a night shift take over your day. This can be a very tricky situation to overcome, but it could be hugely beneficial to try to enjoy your day before a night shift – rather than sitting and waiting for work to begin. One of the most effective ways to distract yourself is to make plans with friends or family members, as talking to them will hopefully allow you to stop thinking about the working night ahead. Remember: it is a night shift for a reason, so try to make the day your own by spending it doing something you truly enjoy. 

Bring something comforting to the workplace. A recent Forbes article revealed that ‘petting an animal’ was an effective way of nurturing your ‘inner child’, so why not invest in something soft and weighted as a way to calm your senses when things start to get on top of you at work? This is nothing to be embarrassed about, as many people have unresolved issues that can make adult/work life stressful for them. If something works for you, it could work for somebody else, too. 

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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