My Top Three Burnout Emotions
I haven't done any official research into the other nurses's experience with burnout, but I feel sharing mine may have some benefit, both for me and others. The powerful thing I noticed was the intense level of pervasiveness of these feelings. As the saying goes, we should leave our work at work, but I found this to be a huge challenge.
Emergency nursing has built a firm foundation on anxiety. We are trained to expect the worst case scenarios. There is no relaxing, in the truest sense of the word, even on the quietest of days. So, it shouldn't have surprised me when I began to worry incessantly about my friends and family. It was like always waiting for the next thunderstorm even on the sunniest of days. I think in response to that I developed a need to control everything. Then, to overcome that, I became apathetic. And that's when I knew ED nursing had gotten to me.
I would venture to guess that many people feel a sense of negativity when thinking about work. I think some some thoughts of not wanting to go in every day is pretty normal. But when that feeling is accompanied with nausea or a throbbing head, it's time to rethink the path you are on. This began happening for me about a year or two before I was ready to admit it. I tried to overcome it with hopeful thoughts, like maybe I could work with kids or someone I truly enjoyed. But eventually, even those thoughts didn't override the physical sensations. Clearly, my body was trying to tell me something and I wasn't listening.
Everyone gets tired, right? I mean we all have huge responsibilities these days. But by exhaustion, I mean, my brain literally quit working for me at times. I know emergency nursing by heart. I have years of experience. But when faced with certain events, I would draw a complete blank. I felt I had no skills at all. I worried I was going to cause patient harm because I couldn't think straight. It didn't make sense. Experience should make me smarter and at ten years in, I felt I knew less than the day I started. To overcome this, I tried to take naps before work. That did little but add to the fatigue and nausea. Exercise helped the most, but still, I found myself getting frustrated more often than not.
I'd hate to think I took some of this out on my coworkers, but it's likely I did. And since then, I have moved on and found my passion again. But for those nurses who think they are "stuck", I feel for you. In my next blog, I'll explain what I did to balance these emotions out with some positive things.