Nursing burnout is a significant issue in America and is increasing at alarming rates. During the peak of the first wave of the COVID‐19 pandemic, staffing, PPE inadequacy, and physical exhaustion all contributed to nurse burnout, which was associated with higher levels of intent to leave the profession (de Cordova et al., 2022). Burnout not only affects the individual nurse's health but also leads to reduced job satisfaction, sentinel events, and increased turnover rates.
Learning how to unwind is crucial for nurses to prevent further burnout and slow the exodus from the nursing profession. Unwinding and managing stress is crucial for maintaining physical and mental well-being. Unwinding allows nurses to cope with the daily stressors they encounter while providing care to patients. By adopting relaxation techniques and self-care practices, nurses can effectively manage their stress levels and enhance their resilience. Fortunately, there are several effective ways for nurses to unwind and alleviate stress.
Meditation has been widely recognized as a powerful non-pharmacological treatment for stress reduction and relaxation. By engaging in routine mindfulness practices, nurses can calm their minds and increase self-awareness. Taking a few minutes each day to meditate can help nurses disconnect from the chaos of their work environment quiet their minds. Research studies have demonstrated that meditation can reduce stress levels, decrease symptoms of anxiety, and improve overall mental health (Black, 2014). Integrating meditation into a daily routine can significantly benefit nurses’ well-being and enhance their ability to cope with the daily challenges they encounter during their shifts.
For nurses who prefer a digital, guided approach to meditation, popular apps like Calm and Headspace have gained popularity among nurses due to subsidized memberships provided by large hospital organizations. These apps often provide guided sessions, soothing sounds, celebrity narration, and customizable options to suit individual preferences.
Talk therapy can be an invaluable resource for nurses to unwind and address any emotional burdens they may carry from their work. Licensed counselors or therapists can provide a safe space for nurses to express what is on their minds. Talk therapy can aid in processing traumatic events, change the general level of functioning, and reduce the symptoms of suffering (Locher et al., 2019). Psychologytoday.com utilizes an advanced search filter to help people find their ideal therapist.
Though nursing is widely regarded as an extroverted profession since interacting with patients constantly, choosing optimal relaxation techniques depends on introvert and extrovert nursing personality preferences. Introverted nurses may find solace in solitary activities like reading, spending time alone outside, or engaging in creative hobbies. These activities provide a much-needed break from social interactions and allow introverts to recharge their energy. Yet, extroverted nurses may unwind best through social interactions, including spending time with friends, group fitness classes, or participating in clubs and team sports.
I anticipate that nursing burnout will unfortunately continue to persist, so learning how to unwind and adopting effective relaxation techniques are crucial in preventing further burnout and the subsequent attrition from the nursing profession. By incorporating various strategies into their daily lives to unwind, nurses can improve their resilience and continue providing exceptional care to their patients. By prioritizing self-care and stress reduction, nurses can continue to provide high-quality care to their patients and sustain their passion for nursing.
Black D. S. (2014). Mindfulness-based interventions: an antidote to suffering in the context of substance use, misuse, and addiction. Substance use & misuse, 49(5), 487–491. https://doi.org/10.3109/10826084.2014.860749
de Cordova, P. B., Johansen, M. L., Grafova, I. B., Crincoli, S., Prado, J., & Pogorzelska-Maziarz, M. (2022). Burnout and intent to leave during COVID-19: A cross-sectional study of New Jersey hospital nurses. Journal of nursing management, 30(6), 1913–1921. https://doi.org/10.1111/jonm.13647
Locher, C., Meier, S., & Gaab, J. (2019). Psychotherapy: A World of Meanings. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 460. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00460