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Burnout: a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained and feel as though you’re unable to meet constant demands.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? As nursing students, feeling burned out is unfortunately not uncommon. I find myself constantly feeling as though I need to be doing homework, studying or reading up on information to keep up. I always feel like I could be doing MORE. But the reality is, you don’t get an award for most all-nighters pulled during nursing school and your body and mind are going to hate you for trying.
When you’re feeling tired, REST but do not quit. It is important to give your mind a break from the constant stress of memorizing material or being able to critically think through scenarios. You cannot fix the feeling of being burned out by adding more work, stress and responsibilities to your plate. You must first try to slowly clear them off, bit by bit. I have found that the best way to handle the feeling of burnout it to simply take a step back. Whether it be for 20 minutes or the remainder of that evening, I give my mind a chance to rest. When you are physically exhausted, do you force yourself to continue running? No, you rest. The same goes for your mind.
Next, I make sure that I am organized. Feeling as though I have a mountain of homework assignments, exams, quizzes and projects to prepare for sometimes gives me the feeling that there is no way I will be able to accomplish everything. I organize a to-do list or planner which allows me to cross things off as I complete them. Not only does this give me a sense of accomplishment, but it also allows me to see that I am making progress and chipping away at the number of tasks to be completed. Managing the feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed are crucial to preventing burnout.
Finally, do something to ENJOY YOURSELF. I know that we have all heard from someone at some point or another, “say goodbye to your life while you’re in nursing school!” That simply isn’t true. Do we have to say no sometimes and make sacrifices for our schooling? Absolutely. Does that mean that we are unable to have fun or enjoy ourselves for the duration of nursing school? NO WAY. Whether it be a small trip, night out or relaxing night at home, it is good for the mind and soul to allow yourself to do things that you enjoy. Being a nursing student is one thing that you do, it is not the entirety of who you are.
During these times of uncertainty and difficulty, make sure that you take care of yourself. We are often our own harshest critic, and it is so important to be kind to your mind and body.