I feel tired and stressed out lately, and know I should address it; but as a nurse, I feel like right now is the wrong time for me to take a break from things. I don’t want to let my coworkers or patients down. What should I do?

By: Cross Country Nurses
Posted: Apr 30, 2021
Categories: Ask Hank

Hank’s Response:

I really appreciate this question in these very unusual times. During this pandemic, nurses are being pushed to edge with increased volumes, workload and a multitude of various stressors. Death is seen daily, family are not allowed to visit, our own coworkers are sick with COVID, and we have had to say our final goodbyes to some of our closest colleagues. As nurses, we have been giving and giving. We try to be strong and deliver the best care possible no matter what the conditions are because that is what we are called to do. But, all of this does take a toll on us emotionally, physically, and spiritually. This we cannot deny! You may be suffering from what is called compassion fatigue.

Taking steps to reduce compassion fatigue must be deliberate and intentional. We need to refill our own personal tanks so we can care for others in need of our services and our skills. This begs the question, what is your outlet? What do you do to care for yourself? Now, honestly answer this question! What is it that you, do for you?

This answer to this question varies and you need find what works best you. It may be in the form of self-care, relaxation, mediation, journaling, other creative expression, dance, exercise, biking, hiking, spiritual time or time out with friends. Sometimes, it can be helpful to talk to or even cry with a fellow nurse who understands the toll it takes on you personally when you are holding a patient’s hand and being there with the patient at the time of death. Those events we carry deep in our souls for a lifetime.

The first step is to recognize that you have compassion fatigue. Start making small changes for you and your physical and emotional health. This will flow over into patient care. Because a healthier you are leads to you performing better under stress.

This is the year of the nurse. I believe it is also the year for nurses to care for one another! If you see a coworker suffering from compassion fatigue, be supportive and encourage them to take “me time.” Compassion fatigue can be significantly reduced through self-care and small changes in the organization’s nurse culture. Be a change agent for nursing. It begins with you!

From the entire Executive Team at Cross Country Healthcare, thank you! Thank you for being our heroes and our frontline warriors. We are truly indebted to each of you for your service and your unwavering devotion to our nation in time of great need.

Happy and Blessed Nurses Week!  Please take time for you.

Always remember the words of Florence Nightingale: “I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse.”

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