We started out as hopeful and idealistic young nurses ready to take care of and serve the sick. We were so full of energy and zest that we usually want to do everything: always volunteering to perform or observe a procedure, helping other nurses, and just being plain happy.

But as weeks and months pass by, we start to wear ourselves down. We constantly become tired even when we are not doing much, we easily become irritated, and that burning we started out with feel like cold charcoal.

We’ve all been through it, nurse or not.

It’s called burnout.

What We Have to Deal with Everyday

Nursing is one of the most rewarding professions there is, but it is also one stressful job. This is the reason why nurses experience high levels of burnout, most often due to physical and emotional exhaustion.

A crowded unit, long hours on our feet, uncooperative patients, lazy co-workers, conflicts with bosses and doctors, dealing with sickness and death, and that stupid equipment that just won’t work are just a few of the stressors we have to face every day at work. Sometimes, when we get home, we can’t even escape from it because of difficult family members.

It’s not easy being a nurse.

What We Have to Watch Out For

It is easy to be stressed out and burn. That is why you must recognize the symptoms of burnout so you can act on it. Here are the following signs you should watch out for:

  • Anxiety
  • Forgetfulness
  • Insomnia
  • Frustration
  • Sadness
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Calling in sick even when you’re not
  • Poor attitude
  • Isolation
  • Not meeting deadlines
  • Depression

What We Need to Do

If you’re feeling burnout, here are some ways you can use to save yourself.

Play when you’re away from work. Play does not necessarily mean that you should engage in heavy partying and drinking, instead engage in activities that can relax you, may it be with others or by yourself. Find a hobby and enjoy it. Watch a funny movie and reward yourself for working hard. Sometimes, it is advisable to take a break from it all and simply rest.

Talk to someone who can understand. Talking to someone you trust can help ease your stress. A parent or a close friend from your support system who knows how to listen can mean the difference between your peace of mind and depression.

Speak to your leader. This may be a difficult thing, but it must be done, especially if the source of your stress is your surroundings and working conditions. Be honest and learn how to politely say “No” if you can no longer handle overtime and other tasks that are not indicated in your job description.

Transfer to a less stressful unit. This one is for those who are experiencing long-term stress because of the area they are working in. According to a Finnish study reported by Reuters, chronic stress in nurses can lead to depression and heart attacks. Don’t let either of those happen to you.

Just take care of yourself. Maintain your health and follow healthy habits. Exercise is proven to reduce stress and induces the release of endorphins, the happy hormones. Eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep are other habits you should not even be reminded about. Healthy habits translate to a healthier outlook on life.

Most nurses who experience burnout feel guilty and bad about not doing well at work. Most of the time, if the burnout out is not appropriately handled both by the nurse and the management, the nurse ends up quitting, something I’m sure we don’t want to see happening.

So as demanding a profession as nursing is, find time for yourself, enjoy life, and let your happiness show in your noble work.


  1. I’m a nurse but I’m not practicing right now. I am really feeling burnt out right now with my work. Though I’m in a different field, the tips have helped. Thanks for the tips glory surban. I hope we can all conquer this!

    • Hi Phern! I hope you can too, especially if you love being a nurse. You wouldn’t want end up too burnt out…


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