Seasoned nurses have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share.
You love nursing. You’ve watched your profession evolve tremendously and you’ve evolved with it. You’ve seen it all, but you still love that you learn something new every day.
But years of being immersed in the world of healthcare can take its toll. You might feel exhausted, stressed and disenchanted with the realities of working in the current healthcare climate. Chronic stress is a cumulative process that builds over time.
How can you peel away those layers to find joy again?
1. Find new ways to replenish
What worked for you a few years ago may not have the same effect now. Find something new that gives you joy or helps you relax. Writing poetry, even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, can be a healthy tool for letting go of work after a long week. Check out our stress-busting hobbies for some other ideas. Or curl up with a blanket and a good movie. No matter the activity, the key is to make “you time” consistent and mandatory.
2. See a therapist
No, really. Nurses are notorious for not focusing on themselves, but cognitive behavioral interventions can be an effective treatment modality for occupational stress. If you’ve been unable to find relief from feelings of stress, anger, or anxiety, you need to see a professional to help you work through those issues. You can learn some helpful tools to apply to all areas of your life, not just work.
3. Use more vacation time
Do you have a lot of earned time, but never find a reason to use it? You don’t need a big trip planned to schedule that time off. Pick a month — any month — and request a few days off. Or use your hours for a shorter workweek; giving yourself a three-day weekend from time to time or one less 12-hour shift. You can decide later to travel or simply stay home for some R&R. But if you don’t schedule it in advance, it won’t happen.
4. Practice saying ‘no’ on your off hours
Working as a nurse involves a high degree of mental and physical energy. Saying “no” at work isn’t really an option, making your time off even more precious. You deserve to focus on your own needs. Saying no to requests isn’t easy, but isn’t your mental sanity worth the mild discomfort?
5. Keep your career fresh
Join a new organization. Go to a professional conference. Make some lasting change in an area you feel passionate about by conducting research. Consider nursing roles that are less stressful or less physically demanding. Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, known as the nursing career guru, shares some invaluable tips and possible avenues for seasoned nurses looking to make a career change.
What tips would you give to a fellow seasoned nurse? How do you maintain your emotional health?