Friday, June 14, 2013

Burnout, Recovery and Work-Life Balance for Nurses

This weekend, I'm speaking at a regional nursing conference here in New Mexico, and the subjects of my two talks are burnout (prevention and recovery) and work-life balance. It's a sad reality that nurses need to hear about these particular issues so often, but as long as they do, I'm willing to get on that stage and preach the gospel of self-care. 

When I speak on Friday afternoon in Albuquerque, I plan to cover many of the basics: 
  • My own story of burnout
  • How I recovered
  • Symptoms of burnout
  • Personality traits that lend themselves to burnout
  • Burnout prevention
  • Burnout recovery
Following up my talk on Friday afternoon, I'll also speak on Saturday morning about creating work-life balance. This is a concept that is part and parcel of burnout prevention, and it's a key to having a happy, healthy and fulfilling life, both at work and at home. 

Personality Matters

In terms of the personality traits that lend themselves to the development of burnout, many of us can display these traits but not necessarily recognize that we're setting ourselves up for a crash.

A desire to be perfect--and expect it from others at all times--can certainly contribute to burnout, mostly because this sets you up for constant disappointment and a feeling of being let down (by yourself and others). This desire for perfection can lead the overly earnest nurse to stop delegating tasks since she or he always ends up feeling that taking care of it themselves will assure that it's done right. 

Another clue to a nurse on the verge can be the nurse who seems to just care too much. This nurse tries to be the "super nurse", taking on the most difficult patients, failing to delegate, striving to solve every little problem, and then personalizing it when she can't make it all better.  This "super nurse" can't say no, and all of those times he or she says yes add up to a level of spiritual, physical and psychological exhaustion that take their toll on many levels. 

I can relate to both of these common traits outlined above, and part of my personal burnout recovery plan was letting go of perfectionism, learning to delegate, and realizing that it simply wasn't my job to do everything for everyone every day. 

Preaching the Gospel

Yes, like I said above, I'm willing to continue to speak the gospel of burnout prevention and work-life balance until the cows come home. Nurses need to hear these messages, even when it's difficult for them to take the information in and recognize that they need to care for themselves. 

This weekend in Albuquerque, I hope to reach even one nurse in that audience who is able to really hear my message, and up the ante when it comes to self-care and work-life balance, thus changing his or her life for the better. 

One by one, nurses are waking up to the need to care for themselves. Perhaps that one nurse who hears the call will bring that message to one of her colleagues or friends, and then that colleague will encourage others to care for themselves as well. We need a critical mass of nurses willing to stand up, demand sane and balanced lives, and create those lives from the ground up. 

Are you ready to join the movement?  



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