Warning Signs of Nursing Stress And Burnout

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Nursing stress and burnout is more common than you think. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why a lot of nurses aren’t able to deliver quality care to their patients. It’s also a reason why a huge number of nurses quit or change profession.

Because of that, it’s important that you know the warning signs. The earlier you can detect it, the quicker you’ll be able to address and overcome nursing stress.

Below are some of the signs that you need to do something about your stress level.

Chronic fatigue

Nursing is a really physically demanding job. You spend long hours walking and running around the floor just to make sure your patients get their medications on time and that none of them are left to ambulate unattended. Going to bed and getting enough rest, however, should be able to recharge and rejuvenate your body.

Now, if you are still waking up feeling tired after sleeping and you can’t seem to find the energy to be with your family or exercise, it’s an early sign of nurse burnout.


When you’re starting to lose interest in what you do as a nurse, you probably need to reassess the level of stress you’re experiencing. Lack of enthusiasm to go to work can negatively affect your mindset which can become a potential danger to you, your patients, and the rest of the healthcare team.

Nurses going through a burnout can also work an entire shift without even smiling or showing any emotion towards the staff or the patients. This can easily affect the way people see them.

Overwhelming anxiety

As a nurse, it’s normal for you to experience some anxiety. You worry about your patients, job or that you might make some really serious mistake at work.

However, what’s not normal and healthy is constant anxiety that limits you.

Most of the time, it’ll show when you can’t make small changes without feeling too overwhelmed. It may also affect the quality of sleep you get or how much food you’re eating because you can’t stop thinking about your job.

Constantly sick

Nurse burnout can appear with a wide range of physical symptoms, including stomach upset, insomnia, changes in your weight and headaches. It may also make you more prone to illnesses.

If you notice that you’re getting constantly sick, it’s best to call your healthcare provider so you can get checked. Make sure that the symptoms you are experiencing are not related to any serious medical condition.

Lack of appreciation

Working long hours and several days a week can easily make you feel unappreciated for the hard work that you do. However, although it’s a common reaction, you should closely assess yourself and determine what’s really making you feel upset.

If it’s because you are overworked, it’s probably the right time to cut back. Don’t take more work than you can handle and don’t be afraid to say no to extra appointments and assignments.

Feeling detached

Most nurses choose the profession because they have a really high degree of compassion. They simply want to care for others. After years of doing it, however, even the most compassionate nurses can suffer from compassionate fatigue.

If you have been feeling a lot more detached from your patients or you’re feeling like you are failing at your job, it’s a big red flag of nurse burnout that you need to address as soon as possible.

Constantly complaining

As nurses experience burnout, they become more resentful towards to job, their supervisors, the hospital, and the profession in general. They’ll complain and show a bad attitude throughout their shift. This is something patients will find hard to miss.
Shying away from social events.

nurse gossip reaction
Via thegypsynurse

Nurses are typically outgoing. They have a social job and most of them love interacting with other people. If you suddenly become introverted, declining invitations from colleagues or brushing off patients’ concerns, you might be going through a burnout. Additionally, seeing a sudden change in your personality can also indicate that something’s wrong.

Dealing with Nurse Burnout

Addressing burnout isn’t as hard as you might think. In fact, there are a lot of ways to cut down on stress.

For one, you can practice meditation. It’s a good way of decreasing stress levels while promoting a general sense of well-being and happiness. It can also improve your concentration. You can do it for about 20 minutes a day to quiet down your mind.

You can also try exercising. A lot of nurses fail to exercise because of the long list of things they need to do on a daily basis. If you are one of them, consider changing your routine. Try hiking, riding a bicycle, walking your dog in the park or walk outside more.

packed food

Also, don’t forget to eat right. The type of food you eat on a daily basis matters, too. As much as possible, eat well-balanced meals. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and protein so that you’ll have more energy at work. Avoid resorting to fatty and sugary foods just to lighten up your mood. Although they can make you feel better after, they have cause problems for your health in the long run.

Another great solution is to start a gratitude journal. Writing down everything you’re thankful for the day can give you a more positive outlook in life. It doesn’t need to be too elaborate. You can just use a spare notebook at home and write down what you’re thankful for in short and simple sentences.

In Conclusion

Nurse burnout is common but it doesn’t mean that you can’t prevent it from happening. Just like medical conditions and illnesses, it comes with warning signs to alert you that something is wrong.

And once you realize the signs, it’s important for you to know how to overcome nurse burnout. Start by being more proactive about caring for yourself. Don’t set it aside just because you don’t find it serious. If left unaddressed, it can have a huge impact on your work and career. It can even compromise the way you deliver care to your patients, putting their safety at risk.