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How to Avoid Burnout in a Challenging Environment

By: American Nurses Association – Article shared

While correctional nursing comes with a unique work environment and patient roster, it also comes with additional stressors and issues that can lead to compassion fatigue, corrections fatigue, or burnout.

Compassion Fatigue

Compassion fatigue occurs when nurses continuously tap into their empathetic emotions on a constant, and regular basis – so much so that these feelings begin to feel depleted. Especially nurses working in a correctional facility may be exposed to the suffering of others so frequently that this depletion of their feelings of compassion may occur. This can be harmful in that it can affect their overall sense of happiness, and strain a caring nature that they may typically exhibit.

Corrections Fatigue

Similar to compassion fatigue, corrections fatigue comes to play when nurses are routinely exposed to a stressful, depressing or negative environment. This can slowly impact their feelings of happiness, wellbeing and can build up feelings of stress, anxiety, depression or even pose a threat to their mental health.

Burnout

Burnout is defined as a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Some signs that someone may be suffering from burnout include:

  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Prolonged irritability
  • Persistent anxiety
  • Sleep problems

How to Prevent Burnout & Fatigue

It’s important for correctional nurses to continue the following preventative and restorative measures to reduce or keep from experiencing burnout.

  • Build a support system: When nurses are starting to experience stress, one of their first reactions may be to pull away from others. It is important to keep friends, family and colleagues involved in their lives. Talking and spending time together regularly can help to reduce stress and put their challenges in a positive perspective.
  • Practice mindfulness: Nurses should treat themselves similar to how they treat patients and always be asking questions and aware of the responses. Activities such as journaling, meditation and exercise may help to calm and ease a troubled mind.
  • Find non-work-related activities: It’s important that the mind has a chance to break away from the same structure of the work environment from time to time. Correctional nurses should look for activities such as a club, organization, or sport to do that will keep them active outside of their workplace.
  • Look for signs of problems – and get help: If a correctional nurse is doing appropriate self checks they should know the signs that burnout is getting close. If a nurse, or their friends, family or coworkers recognize that their friend is close to burnout, there are support systems and resources that can help. Start by encouraging a visit to a medical professional to determine if any measures should be taken to prevent larger problems such as depression, panic attacks or substance abuse.

While burnout may sound like a small, almost mundane problem, unfortunately it can lead to far more serious problems, so it’s important to keep an eye out, and take preventative measures. All the issues that Correctional Nurses face are outlined, explored, and advised upon in our Scope and Standards, Correctional Nursing 3rd Edition, now available here.  An invaluable resource, don’t miss it!  Correctional nurses especially, understand that this work environment is one that can lead to a higher chance of burnout – stay vigilant!

Categories: Career Advice

How to Avoid Burnout in a Challenging Environment

By: American Nurses Association – Article shared

While correctional nursing comes with a unique work environment and patient roster, it also comes with additional stressors and issues that can lead to compassion fatigue, corrections fatigue, or burnout.

Compassion Fatigue

Compassion fatigue occurs when nurses continuously tap into their empathetic emotions on a constant, and regular basis – so much so that these feelings begin to feel depleted. Especially nurses working in a correctional facility may be exposed to the suffering of others so frequently that this depletion of their feelings of compassion may occur. This can be harmful in that it can affect their overall sense of happiness, and strain a caring nature that they may typically exhibit.

Corrections Fatigue

Similar to compassion fatigue, corrections fatigue comes to play when nurses are routinely exposed to a stressful, depressing or negative environment. This can slowly impact their feelings of happiness, wellbeing and can build up feelings of stress, anxiety, depression or even pose a threat to their mental health.

Burnout

Burnout is defined as a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Some signs that someone may be suffering from burnout include:

  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Prolonged irritability
  • Persistent anxiety
  • Sleep problems

How to Prevent Burnout & Fatigue

It’s important for correctional nurses to continue the following preventative and restorative measures to reduce or keep from experiencing burnout.

  • Build a support system: When nurses are starting to experience stress, one of their first reactions may be to pull away from others. It is important to keep friends, family and colleagues involved in their lives. Talking and spending time together regularly can help to reduce stress and put their challenges in a positive perspective.
  • Practice mindfulness: Nurses should treat themselves similar to how they treat patients and always be asking questions and aware of the responses. Activities such as journaling, meditation and exercise may help to calm and ease a troubled mind.
  • Find non-work-related activities: It’s important that the mind has a chance to break away from the same structure of the work environment from time to time. Correctional nurses should look for activities such as a club, organization, or sport to do that will keep them active outside of their workplace.
  • Look for signs of problems – and get help: If a correctional nurse is doing appropriate self checks they should know the signs that burnout is getting close. If a nurse, or their friends, family or coworkers recognize that their friend is close to burnout, there are support systems and resources that can help. Start by encouraging a visit to a medical professional to determine if any measures should be taken to prevent larger problems such as depression, panic attacks or substance abuse.

While burnout may sound like a small, almost mundane problem, unfortunately it can lead to far more serious problems, so it’s important to keep an eye out, and take preventative measures. All the issues that Correctional Nurses face are outlined, explored, and advised upon in our Scope and Standards, Correctional Nursing 3rd Edition, now available here.  An invaluable resource, don’t miss it!  Correctional nurses especially, understand that this work environment is one that can lead to a higher chance of burnout – stay vigilant!

Categories: Career Advice

10 Ways To Increase Your Focus in Nursing School

It’s frustrating sitting there staring at your textbook and losing focus. Every nursing student has been through it and you will feel like you’re wasting time. Here are some ways to help you focus better during your studying time.

1. Get Better Sleep

We have all been there as a college student and even as a working nurse. When we know we should be sleeping, we are not. Instead we are scrolling through our phones or catching up with the latest show.

It takes a lot of discipline for us to close our phone and go to sleep. By creating small habits, we can have better self-control. Put your phone somewhere far away before you go to bed. Only allow yourself to indulge in your shows after you finished studying for the week.

Getting better sleep is all about prioritizing your sleep over everything else. Have a routine that will prepare your body for sleep. Start preparing for bed 1 hour before bedtime. Avoid having caffeine late in the evening where it will affect how well you fall asleep.

This will take self-discipline at an ultimate level but it will pay off when you pass all your nursing exams. Give yourself small rewards along the way will make it easier. Rewards are something you enjoy such as hanging out with friends or treating yourself to a nice meal.

Maybe you just need a little to rejuvenate yourself. A nap will do you wonders if that’s what your body needs. Sometimes we feel guilty for wasting time napping when we know we should be studying. The lack of focus could be that we are pushing ourselves too hard and not giving your brain a break. Schedule in a power nap to rejuvenate your brain before studying. You will retain information better with a mind at 100% capacity then a brain performing sluggishly.

2. Have An Exercise Routine

Going from classes to clinical and studying gives us little to no time to exercise. You might find that you focus better at the beginning of the semester then you do towards the end.

The time you spend sitting for class and for studying is not making enough blood flow to your brain. You will learn in nursing school that blood is the delivery system for oxygen and nutrient. This means circulation is important to the organs in your body especially to your brain. Your brain needs proper fuel and oxygen to function and learn new information.

Make it a habit to include exercise in your weekly routine. If you don’t have much time, try to fit an intensive training (HIIT) exercise in 15-30 minutes once or twice a week. A low intensity workout like Yoga or Pilates everyday for 15-20 minutes is also an option. You will feel the difference in your mind once you have a good exercise routine.

You don’t need to exert too much effort to make exercising possible. Try using YouTube videos for a quick and easy workout that you prefer. Make the process easier being in comfortable workout clothes if it is appropriate. This way you will find sticking to the routine a lot easier.

If you need to be a better environment to work out, you can check out your school gym. There are inexpensive gym membership you can try to join. Plan your studying time strategically around your workout location for better productivity. You may find that you study better before or after a workout.

3. Eat Nutrient Dense Whole Foods

You will learn that fast food has a price when it comes to how well your body performs. We have all eaten food that makes us sleepy or hungry after an hour. These type of food are convenient but will get in the way of your studying.

It takes effort to be consciously aware of what we eat and how it benefits our ability to study and perform on our test. One way is to avoid food with empty calories such as carb based snacks. Start to identify what you eat everyday and replace it with whole unprocessed foods.

You may need to set aside time to prepare food to bring with you. We all know time is limited as a nursing student. Go for pre-portioned packaged food that you can take with you. Carry packaged nuts and/or healthy energy bars to help hold you over until you get home.

Eating nutrient dense food will offer plenty of fuel for your body to function optimally. It may be a hassle to bring food with you to the library or classroom but it will pay off in the end.

4. Have An Effective Study Schedule 

To be productive, you need to learn how to manage your time. Having a strategic study schedule will give you the edge you need to pass your nursing exams. You could be running around and wasting precious time if you don’t strategize your day. Put the initial effort required to create a study schedule and you will reap the benefits it has to offer.

5. Have Nursing Study Buddies

Being in a nursing program, you will find there are many challenges to overcome. Having a group of people who are going through the same thing you are will make things easier. The amount of information that you will learn in nursing school is a lot to handle by yourself.

Finding friends in the nursing program will help you get through nursing. You may need to be selective of who your study group will be. Not everybody who get accepted into the nursing program will graduate as a nurse. It helps to know that your nursing buddies are serious about studying. You will need the mental support from each other to make it through every semester and pass the NCLEX.

Offering support to each other will also include sharing ways to study. With so many mind working towards the same goal. You will learn better ways to motivate yourself and reach your goals.

You can easily drive yourself crazy by creating the fear of failing every exam. Having a group of nursing buddies will give you back some sanity when you find you are not the only one with doubts.

6. Find Your Secret Study Place

You need to know where you study best in order to have the focus you need to process those chapters in the textbook. It will be productive to hunt down your own little study area. This could be your little secret. The right area will offer everything you need to make you feel comfortable. You will realize how zoned in you will be once you are studying in your secret place.

Having a designated place to hide away from others will come in handy. Sometimes you will find that studying in a group could come with a lot of distraction. This will result in a less productive way of using your precious study time. You may find yourself thinking of a way to sneak off into your comfort zone for an hour or two to actually study.

This secret study space of yours will take some time for you to find. You will be happy knowing there is a place just for you that will increase your chance of passing your exams.

7. Study Smarter

A popular saying is work smarter and not harder. You are not guaranteed to pass your exams just because you studied long hours. It may be counterproductive by studying until you burnout. By implementing ways to study smarter, you will find studying more enjoyable.

Understand How You Learn

One way of studying smarter is to understand what type of leaner you are. There are visual, auditory, linguistic, physical, logical, interpersonal and intrapersonal types of learners. Knowing how you learn best will make things easier for you. Once you’ve understand what type of learner you are, you can explore ways to help you study better.

This article Different Learning Style will help you identify your learning type. This link will take you to Time4Learning.com.

Take Good Notes in Class

Taking perfect notes in class is another way to give your studying a boost. Most information discussed in class will be on the exam. A useful hack is to learn short hand writing such as abbreviation to help you take faster notes in class. You can also try using a voice recorder in class to avoid missing anything important. Getting permission from your professor may be necessary before recording the lesson.

Use Technology To Give You An Edge

Using smart devices will make it easier to study. Having a laptop can speed up the process of creating study notes by typing them up. A laptop will also give you accessibility to the web to look up information quickly. Utilizing a smartphone with a camera built-in for a quick snap shot of notes on the board to review later. The are many apps you can use to give you the edge you need to have the information you need at your disposal. You only need to be creative with what you already have.

8. Teach Others What You’ve Learned

Grab anybody around you and try teaching them what you’ve just learned. This is a way that you can help your brain process and understand information. If you understand something thoroughly, you will be able to explain it very well.

You may find through your explanation that you don’t quite understand it yourself. That is how you can pinpoint the information you need to review. You will find your mind focus better when trying to find the answer. Your ability to recall this information is better because of the energy you put into it.

Just try it and see how well it works for you.

9. Test Yourself

Testing yourself is another way of identifying what you don’t know. Questions from nursing study guides may cover information you are suppose to know. There are options that you can use to quiz yourself.

Nursing Questionnaire Apps

Free nursing apps are easily accessible if you have a smartphones. There are different apps created for specific nursing classes. Find a good app with further breakdown that follows the chapters in your textbook. This way you can avoid confusion of getting questions of topics that aren’t discuss yet. Start testing yourself a week before the exam to help you gauge how prepare you are.

Nursing Study Guides

Nursing apps might have a limit on how well you will understand the reasoning for the correct answer. You will find a good study guide will offer the complete package to help you understand better. It will highlight information you need to know and have questionnaire with rationales. Critical thinking questions are challenging because you need to find the best answer out of the option of good answers. You will want to understand why that is the best answer to help you learn how to process questions for future (the NCLEX).

The smart way to approach this is to not over test yourself and loose confidence in what you know. Instead use it to help you gauge what you don’t know or understand. The tip is to understand why you got that question wrong and use your textbook to clear up the information.

10. Ask Others What You Should Focus On

When you look at the mountain of information in your textbook, you could get lost on what to focus on. Sometimes even with good study notes, you are still not sure if you’ve covered everything. There is just too much information in the textbook for you to memorize it all. You need to find a way to narrow your focus to what is important.

A proactive measure is to actually ask what you should be focusing on. You can ask your professor, your study buddies and even nursing students who are more senior than you. By find out what you should look for will give you the hyper focus you need to retain the information. This will also save you a lot of time and energy.

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