Compassion fatigue is a concern that many in the healthcare industry are not addressing with the seriousness that they should. Compassion fatigue, especially combined with physical and mental fatigue, can burn nurses out and cause them to quit the industry outright. Even if they don’t quit their career, they will be looking into alternative career options that will help them regain their quality of life.
Many will have pushed through this past year because the world needed them, but hospitals and the government itself need to invest in greater support for healthcare professionals. Even when physical and mental fatigue is not a problem, compassion fatigue poses a problem plaguing healthcare staff.
Mental health resources, support groups, and a general support system for nurses and doctors alike are a must on a federal level.
Until then, however, this guide will help give you suggestions, tips, and recommendations that will help you beat compassion fatigue and manage your mental health better as a nurse:
Continue to Progress
It can be very difficult to stay in the same situation when you feel pressure, fatigue, and stress. In some cases, it is the workplace, at which point relocating to a clinic or a more rural hospital might be the best fit for you. In other cases, it is your role itself. There are so many places to progress and to specialize in as a nurse, and when you find that you cannot handle the role of an RN, becoming an APRN can be precisely what you need.
There are so many options when it comes to becoming an APRN, but to keep your options open, you are going to want to skip the MSN and go right for a DNP. There are so many ways to earn a nursing doctorate as well. You can get started with just a BSN. Along the way, you can become a qualified APRN and earn your doctorate all within one degree.
There are many reasons to go for the DNP instead of just the MSN. For one, it will automatically work to qualify you for higher wages. You will also be better prepared if you ever want to go into leadership or education. However, most of all is that the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) is advocating to increase the entry-level degree for NP to DNP by 2025. Earning your DNP now will future-proof your career and give you access to many roles that your MSN-APRN counterparts won’t.
Build a Support System (And Rely On It)
One of the most important ways to beat compassion fatigue is to connect. Find other nurses to share how you feel, see if there are support groups near you, let your friends and family know what you are going through, consider getting a pet, and so on. Being connected to others is the best way to remove the heavyweight of your work off your shoulders, even if all your loved ones do is listen to you and validate how you feel.
The single best method to helping reduce and combat compassion fatigue is to take physical fatigue out of the equation. Getting a good night’s sleep that leaves you rested and refreshed when you wake up is worth your weight in gold. It can be very hard to do this, especially if you work shifts.
The best way to improve your sleep is with these four tips:
1. Try to Keep a Routine
If you have the option, always go to sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time, with a minimum of eight hours (or more, if you need it) of sleep in-between.
2. Improve Your Bed
Your bed needs to support your spine. Better pillows, a better mattress, and sheets that breathe are all excellent places to invest. If you live in an urban area, also consider getting black-out curtains, as these can help put your brain to sleep more effectively than other options. If you need help waking up, there are light alarms that slowly increase in brightness before your alarm so you can mimic the benefits of waking with the sun, even if your shift starts before daylight does.
3. Improve Your Diet
A healthy diet can help you sleep better. The same goes for a consistent eating schedule. Now, the common belief is that eating before bed causes indigestion, can lead to weight gain, and can also disrupt your sleep. This is sort of true. A small snack can be imperative to keep your blood sugar levels up, which will help keep you asleep throughout the night.
4. Improve Your Habits
Set your electronics to night mode so that the screen light dims orange instead of the blue-white that can disrupt sleep when the sunsets. You will also want to adopt some slow-living activities to enjoy before bed that will help your mind calm down before you sleep, instead of starting to race just before you put your head down on your pillow.
How to Use Food to Help Fight Against Fatigue
Compassion fatigue is either worsened or only starts because of other types of fatigue. If you are mentally and physically well, you can often better protect yourself from the symptoms of compassion fatigue, especially as you can reduce the physical symptoms associated with all types of fatigue at the source.
Low blood sugar can make people angrier, moodier, and generally more susceptible to their emotions. By investing in quality protein bars or even making them at home to enjoy delicious, budget-friendly snacks, you can stay fueled throughout the day and better manage your health against fatigue.
Wellness Tips to Help You Stay Calm
Slow living and living in harmony with nature are two of the best ways to ground yourself and to calm your mind. A walk in the park, lunch outside, and even just gardening can do wonders for your wellbeing and for your mind. They are also very easy to introduce to your life. Reconnect with nature to stay calm, improve your mental health, and beat compassion fatigue.