July 30, 2019

{Guest Post} Seven Strategies to Prevent Nursing Fatigue

Stressed nurse sitting in hospital corridor
Seven Strategies to Prevent Nursing Fatigue
Nurses are incredibly resilient. Each day, they wake up, throw on a set of scrubs and head into work to perform a demanding 12-hour shift—all while striving to provide the best possible care to their patients. Then, they get home and fall asleep, only to begin the process all over again.
But as a nurse, you know that this barely touches the reality of the situation. In the United States, most hospitals and clinics are woefully understaffed, which often forces nurses to work longer shifts and manage far more patients than they can actually handle. The unfortunate result is nursing fatigue, a common condition which can make you feel both mentally and physically exhausted for days, weeks or even months. 
Almost all nurses have experienced nursing fatigue at some point in their careers, so don’t feel guilty over it. Instead, you can try these seven strategies to combat the effects of nursing fatigue.

1. Leave work at the door.
When you clock out from work, it’s important for you to clock out mentally as well. Leaving your work at the door is essential for avoiding compassion fatigue, a condition which results from repeated exposure to patient suffering while working in a high-stress environment.
In a 2017 study published in the European Journal of Oncology Nursing, researchers found that nurses were more likely to experience compassion fatigue when they were more self-judgmental. If you come home from work and feel guilty about all the things you could have done to make your patient’s life easier, you won’t give yourself time to recharge for the next shift.

2. Practice different forms of self-care.
Nurses go from patient-to-patient, checking their vital signs, administering medicine and assisting them with daily activities. As a result, it’s easy to get so caught up in caring for patients that you forget to take care of yourself.
Young athlete woman tying running shoes in the park outdoor, female runner ready for jogging on the road outside, asian Fitness walking and exercise on footpath in morning. wellness and sport concepts
To be on top of your game each day, it’s critical that you do things for yourself on a regular basis. Some self-care practices you can try include: going for a walk in nature, starting your day with meditation or signing up for a healthy subscription meal service. 
If you tend to feel guilty about treating yourself, make your forms of self-care double as a bonus for work. For example, do arm work every other day to help lift your patients or invest in the new pair of nursing shoes that you’ve been eyeing for months.

3. Use your vacation days.
You have vacation days, so remember to use them. Taking time off work is key to preventing burnout and will help you return to work feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. If your nursing unit schedules vacations at the start of each year, be sure to get your days in the books—even if you don’t have anywhere in particular to go. 
In fact, planning a “staycation” for yourself may be the perfect getaway. You can recharge your batteries by relaxing at home, catching up on things you’ve been neglecting and spending quality time with the family. 

4. Unload your brain after each day.
After a particularly tiring shift, sometimes you just need to declutter your mind and get all your thoughts out of your head. One way to do this is by writing them down on paper or typing them into a Google doc.
Female working with laptop at home woman's hands on notebook computer Writer blogger designer telework
Untangling your mind and getting the thoughts out of your head can lower your mental brain fog and allow you to relax after a shift. The process is simple: Just set a timer for 15 minutes and unload your thoughts. Once the time is up, delete your document or click out of it. Reading it over again will only put the words back into your head.

5. Change your work environment.
While it’s no secret that most hospitals and clinics stretch their nurses far too thin, some take it to another level by creating an environment that is downright dangerous. If your healthcare institution has a poor nurse-to-patient ratio and no system in place to provide help for nurses, it may be worth it to begin searching for a new job.
Though nursing is an in-demand field, finding the right fit can be trickier than it sounds. Don’t be afraid to explore different healthcare settings to find your ideal work environment. While you might take a pay cut in some instances, the change could be the key to preventing nurse fatigue.

6. Find a specialty you love.
It’s much easier to prevent nursing fatigue when you truly love what you do. If being a registered nurse just isn’t working for you, consider switching to a nursing specialty that makes you happy to stroll into work each day.
At the intensive care unit. Nurse standing near hospital bed with a baby preparing it for treatment. Press-tour to the Ukrainian Children’s Cardiac Center for mass-media. May 18, 2018. Kiev, Ukraine
While you could always take a nursing specialty quiz to help you nail down your career, one of the best ways to get a feel for a particular specialty is hands-on experience. Are you interested in a position as an emergency room nurse? Talk with the ER manager and let them know you’re ready to help. There are hundreds of nursing specialties, so be sure to explore all your options to find a job that truly ignites your passion.

7. Explore new hobbies.
Every nurse needs a hobby that allows them to decompress and wind down from work. Finding joy in a new hobby can combat nursing fatigue by giving you something to look forward to after a shift.
Some of the best hobbies for nurses often double as stress-relieving activities, such as painting, knitting, woodworking and jewelry-making. Be sure to explore hobbies that get your heartrate up. Getting involved in a pickup soccer game, going ziplining with friends and enrolling in a martial arts class can help keep your mind off work while improving your mood. 

Long shifts combined with understaffed nursing units are the perfect storm for nursing fatigue. While some healthcare facilities are working to address the problem, it’s important for you to be proactive about your health and happiness. With the help of these strategies, you can fight back against nursing fatigue and prevent it from affecting your personal and professional life.
Thank you to Deborah Swanson, Real Caregiver Program Coordinator, of allheart.com for writing this article.  If you missed her previous post click here:

July 8, 2019

{Guest Post} Wounded Warriors: Fighting the Fight After the Battle is Over

Wounded Warriors: Fighting the Fight After the Battle is Over
United State veterans live a life like no other. Combat veterans have seen it all and unfortunately, once they come home, they suffer from some unique health issues that most civilians cannot understand. 

It is important to increase the visibility of these silent struggles, as civilian awareness is key to ensuring our veterans get the health coverage they both need and deserve. Most veterans aren’t aware of the silent struggles they’re facing, so it is up to their friends and family to keep a watchful eye out. 

Here are three common health problems that affect veterans every day.

PTSD and Additional Mental Health Disorders
Mental health conditions have become much more prevalent in veterans within the past couple of years. This could be related to the fact that within military culture, mental health is stigmatized and can often be a source of shame. Because of this, many veterans do not seek mental health treatment, and unfortunately, this has led to a growing epidemic when it comes to military and veteran suicides. 

Some common veteran mental health conditions include:
  • PTSD; a mental health condition that veterans can develop after witnessing traumatic events
  • Depression; a feeling of despondency and isolation 
  • Insomnia; not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep
  • Anxiety; intense and excessive worry
  • Suicidal ideation; thinking about and planning suicide
It is important to know that symptoms of mental health can show in a variety of ways, but luckily mental health conditions are easily treatable.

Agent Orange Exposure
For those veterans who have served in Vietnam, Agent Orange exposure can be especially dangerous. There is a multitude of diseases correlated to Agent Orange exposure including heart disease, respiratory and prostate cancer, Parkinson’s disease, leukemia, diabetes, soft tissue sarcoma, and Hodgkin’s disease.

The VA offers compensation for veterans who have suffered at the hands of Agent Orange. And even recently, a new decision was made that allows Vietnam Blue Water Veterans to claim benefits for these health conditions that were not originally offered to them. 

Hearing Loss
Hearing injury is the number one service-related injury for combat veterans. Due to their close proximity to aircraft, bombs, explosions, gunfire, and artillery, veterans suffer from both hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus is when a person experiences a consistent buzzing or ringing that makes it impossible for the individual to experience silence. 

The physical and mental effects of hearing loss can go beyond their years of service; it is common for a veteran to experience insomnia, difficulty concentrating, social anxiety, isolation, and eventual cognitive decline. There are plenty of benefits available to veterans who suffer from hearing loss, and Hill and Ponton Disability Attorneys have created a VA hearing disability calculator to help you determine what you are eligible for. 

Veterans are the people who have fought for our freedom and safety, and they deserve proper health care to ensure their sacrifices have not gone ignored. 

Thank you to Matt Hill for sharing this valuable information. Mr. Hill focuses his practice on representing disabled veterans. He represents veterans and their dependents across the nation. In addition to representing the disabled, Mr. Hill is a recognized authority on VA law. For more information on VA law, please check out Hill and Ponton Disability Attorneys www.hillandponton.com