I believe that nurses and teachers are uniquely prone to burnout. Isn’t it ironic, that nursing is a caring profession and yet when nurses care too much, they are unable to do the job?
It can lead to feelings of frustration, emotional exhaustion and dread of going to work. These feelings are similar for teachers, who also have enormous responsibilities put on their shoulders.
What drives burnout?
Many people, mistakenly think that teachers have lots of holidays and short working days but nothing could be further from the truth. Conscientious teachers get to work very early, getting things ready for the day and often not leave before five. They spend hours lesson planning, trying to meet ever changing standards set by successive governments, with their emphasis on target driven education.
Their job role has change drastically in recent years. They are inundated with paperwork, targets, let alone the changes in pupil behaviours they now have to contend with. Ask any teacher why they went in to the profession and it wasn’t to be an administrator but to make a difference. In fact, a report stated “47% of teachers report experiencing depression, anxiety, or panic attacks due to work-related stress”.
Likewise nurses have a similar dilemma. They care about their patients but they are often working on wards that are short staffed, dealing with an excess of lifestyle illnesses suppressed by pharmaceutical medication. There are no designated breaks and food has to be eaten on the run. No wonder they turn to junk foods for quick energy. In fact, compassion fatigue affects 16% to 39% of registered nurses.
what are the signs of burnout?
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering things
- Low mood
- Fatigue, not made better by sleep
- Stressed induced weight gain
what can you do to support your body?
While it is popular to turn stimulants, like caffeine and energy drinks to keep you going. Fundamentally, there has to be a deeper level change.
- Caffeine may work in the short term but it can still be in your system up to 6 hours later, for some people even 10 hours. This will then affect your quality of sleep. If you have less than 6 hours sleep a night, you are a higher risk of obesity. If you have caffeine, have it earlier in the day and stick to herbal teas after midday.
- Alcohol. This is a difficult one. Whilst a glass of wine is ok, long term this can soon turn into a bottle a night. Be aware that alcohol will disrupt your ability to get good quality REM sleep. The kind that is restorative, so use it cautiously. Try not to drink every night.
- Sip water throughout the day to avoid dehydration. Just 2% dehydration can affect physical performance and cognitive function.
- Try to eat protein with each meal to balance your blood sugar. This will slow the absorption of carbohydrates and keep you full up for longer. Helping to reduce weight gain.
- Try to have healthy foods to hand to avoid reaching for the chocolate. Try making nutrient rich smoothies to drink on the go if lunch breaks aren’t an option.
- Light exercise can help with stress. Pick something that you enjoy, even walking is beneficial.
- Look at supplements to support you such as B vitamins, vitamin C and adaptogenic herbs. Seek the help of a Nutritionist who can advise you individually.
what can you do to support your mental health?
- Try journaling. Have a journal by your bed and record how you are feeling, both the good and the bad. This can be useful to see how you have overcome certain situations, when you are having an off day. It will also enable you to offload the constant mental chatter.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Write down three things you are grateful for in the morning and three things that were good about your day, in the evening. It gets your mind focused on the good and turns off the “ANTS” (automatic negative thinking syndrome). It is proven to boost your immune system.
- Do something just for you everyday, no matter how small. It can be a bath, read a chapter of a book, listen to music, anything that brings you joy. It will help to bring creativity back into your life.
- Take time for one another and listen to friends who maybe struggling. Connection is so important for our human experience. A problem shared is a problem halved.
- Be kind to yourself. You are not a robot, or superhuman. You can’t do everything for everyone and expect to keep going. You can’t give from an empty cup.
As you can see, burnout is a real problem in these professions but there are steps you can take to support yourself. As they say in the airlines,
“put your own mask on first before helping anyone else”.
If you feel that you are heading towards burnout and need support, book in for a free 15 mins consultation to see how I can support you.
I have in-depth knowledge of chronic fatigue issues and can support you with a roadmap back to health & vitality.