Burnout is a common issue. It’s also one that has become particularly problematic amongst healthcare workers.
It’s important to understand why an extra measure of grace and understanding should be extended to healthcare workers, in particular. It’s also wise for healthcare workers themselves to understand the best ways to decompress and unwind after a long, exhausting day at work.
The Unique Burnout Challenge for Healthcare Workers
Burnout is a common concern for the modern workforce. One recent study found that 23% of employees feel burned out either “very often” or “always.” On top of that, 44% of other respondents felt burned out at least “sometimes.” In other words, nearly three out of every four respondents struggled with burnout.
When it comes to the healthcare sector, in particular, the workforce is especially susceptible to those feelings of being overtaxed and overwhelmed. This makes sense when you break it down, as healthcare workers face a variety of unique workplace challenges.
- Healthcare workers are essential, meaning they don’t get time off, even in a crisis.
- Healthcare workers are regularly exposed to disease and violence in their work environments.
- Healthcare workers work long hours with large workloads that can easily exhaust the average person.
- Healthcare workers labor in stressful environments that can be a mental, emotional, and physical burden.
Decompressing as a Healthcare Worker
The question of why healthcare workers suffer from burnout is easy to answer. However, addressing the issue in a healthy, effective manner can be a bit more difficult — though by no means impossible.
Here are several of the best ways that healthcare workers can try to decompress after a long day at work.
The last thing you probably want to do after a long day on your feet is exercise. Nevertheless, putting in a little bit of extra effort to constructively exercise is a great way to pump up those endorphins and reduce stress and anxiety.
Fortunately, you don’t have to run a marathon to technically sneak in some daily exercise. On the contrary, half an hour on an exercise bike or going for a walk can be great a way to unwind and get active at the same time.
Physically Relax Your Body
If you’re feeling stressed out after a long day, you may feel tight in the shoulders and tense everywhere else. If that’s the case, you can relax and unwind your muscles by:
- Taking a hot bath.
- Using deep breathing techniques.
- Going through a progressive muscle relaxation script.
Look for Creative Outlets
Often decompressing is more of a head game than a physical one. When that’s the case, it can be helpful to seek a creative outlet to help you leave the stresses and strains of the workplace behind. A few suggestions for creative activities include:
- Creative writing.
- Knitting or crocheting.
Get an Emotional Support Animal
Emotional support animals provide an incredible sense of peace and security. They’re always accepting, nonjudgmental, and they get excited every time you walk in the door.
As a healthcare worker, though, consider both your schedule and the demands and responsibilities of the animal that you choose before you commit to a pet. If you have long shifts and you won’t be able to see your pet for significant periods of time, make sure you have another person who can help with your four-legged friend’s care while you’re at work.
Avoid Extra Stressors
Finally, remember that extra stressors outside of work can often be avoided. For instance, if you struggle with burnout and an inability to decompress, the last thing that you want to do is fill up your schedule with avoidable extracurricular responsibilities and activities.
Even if an activity is unavoidable, such as a holiday, there are still many ways to manage and organize your events to avoid additional burnout, such as:
-Setting realistic expectations for what you can attend and do during a holiday season.
-Creating lists for commitments, gifts, food, and so on to help keep track of your responsibilities (and avoid fretting over them, as well.)
-Striving to maintain work/life boundaries throughout an event to avoid overlapping stressors.
-Maintaining your daily routines keeps up a sense of normalcy.
Decompressing as a Healthcare Worker
Unwinding after a tough day at work is a common occurrence. For healthcare workers, though, it’s an essential one. If those on the front lines of the medical world can’t relax, unwind, and rest when they’re off the clock, they’re going to end up burned out, overstressed, and overwhelmed. This, in turn, can affect their workplace performance, leading to undesirable results.
Whether you, yourself, work in the medical field or you know a healthcare worker, it’s important to encourage everyone in your life who works in the healthcare industry to take decompressing after work seriously. Help them learn about the above tools, and encourage them in their attempt to recuperate after every shift.