Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It often occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained and feel as though you’re unable to meet demands.
Does this sound familiar to you? For many nursing students, feeling burned out is not uncommon. I often find myself feeling as though I should be doing homework, studying or reading up on information at all times to keep up. I always feel like I should be doing MORE. This is unrealistic, the reality is, your body and mind are going to hate you for trying and you are going to feel burned out- this isn’t a race to the bottom.
When you’re feeling tired, REST. 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 alleviate being burned out by adding more work, stress and responsibilities to your plate. Take everything on, one bite at a time. I have found that the best way to handle the feeling of burnout is to take a step back and assess my situation. Whether it be for 20 minutes or the remainder of that evening, I give my mind a chance to rest. When you are physically hurting, do you force yourself to continue running? No, you rest or you are going to risk injuring yourself. 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. Finally, do something to ENJOY YOURSELF. I know that we have all likely heard from someone at some point, “say goodbye to your life while you’re in nursing school!” That does not need to be the case. 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 at home, it is good for the mind and soul to allow yourself to do things that you enjoy. Being a nursing student is your mission, but 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.