nurse burnoutI am teaching a Reiki I class this month to two groups of nursing students. During the first session, several of the nursing students expressed feelings of sadness, exhaustion and overwhelm with the group. They shared the constant go-go-go that is experienced in such a high-pressure degree can be taxing to the body, mind and spirit. Many of them voiced the reason for even being in the Reiki class was to learn how to relieve stress.

Stress: Trying to Be Someone Other Than Ourselves

I got an email from another Reiki student of mine the other day. She wrote: “I’m not as good at giving Reiki as you or some of the other students in class, but I am trying. I think I do it good on myself.” Her note got me thinking about nurse burnout and the pressure we place upon ourselves to be ‘the best’.

Whether we are expert nurses with years of experience under our belts or nursing students just starting out fresh, the profession of nursing is one of judging, ranking, doing and positioning. We want to ace the exam so we can graduate with honors; we strive to publish in academic journals for prestige; we even compare ourselves to our fellow nurses, worrying that we don’t live up to management’s expectations.

I am reminded of a quote by the author of ‘Psycho-Cybernetics‘:

“Personality, that magnetic and mysterious something that is easy to recognize but difficult to define, is not so much something that is acquired from without, as something that is released, from within.” -Maxwell Maltz, MD, FICS

How to Deal with Stress: Be Yourself

To be honest, the email I received from my Reiki student the other day, made me a little sad. I felt discouraged that in teaching Reiki I to her, I didn’t make a strong enough case for the fact that we are all unique beings with individual talents and skills. After my brief feelings of sadness left me, I was left excited and am looking forward to the ‘teachable moment’ when I see her again.

You see, this is what ‘Nursing from Within™, is all about.

One of the reason’s we don’t know how to deal with stress these days is because we are looking outside of ourselves for the answers. When we compare ourselves to another human being, we are going to fall short. Each and every time. I can guarantee it. It is simply the truth with a capital ‘T’.

Relieve Nurse Burnout: Find Your Nurse Within

  1. Engage in mindful activity. Many things impact nurse burnout such as being distracted at work, having too much on your plate and feeling tired of doing the same old thing. If like has become stressful, tiring or even mundane it’s time to take pause. Be in the moment as much as possible. Observe every experience with an eye for learning. Approach every situation as a beginner so that you can start to find the joy in your nursing career again.
  2. Let go of what no longer serves. There are so many different types of nursing out there. Maybe you don’t need to leave the nursing profession altogether; maybe it’s just time for a change. Take personal stock of what you do and do not enjoy about your current nursing career and see if there is anything that you can let go of. If you’re looking for tips on how to deal with stress, here’s my favorite: running away from the stressor isn’t the answer.
  3. nurse danceFill yourself up with fun. Universal laws teach us that what we focus on we attract. Instead of hum drum obsession with learning how to relieve stress… maybe it’s time to shift your focus altogether. It can be hard to do at first since it seems that there is so much negativity to be focused on, yet it can be done. From a ‘Negative Nancy Nurse’ who completely changed from nurse burnout to loving life- I can speak from experience. What’s one thing you can do to fill yourself up with fun? Put on a favorite song and crank the volume up. Loud. Sing at the top of your lungs, dance like a rock-star and let yourself play.

OK, so what did we miss? If you were talking to a nurse who was looking for answers on how to deal with stress what would you tell them? What are some other ways to cope with and shift nurse burnout?

About the Author: As a speaker, workshop facilitator, and Reiki Master, Elizabeth partners with hospitals, organizations, associations, and nursing groups to help transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the  host of the Your Next Shift Workshop, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver.

Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RN

“I’m a Nurse, but I’m Not Sure I LOVE Nursing Anymore! Can You Help Me?”


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