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5 Ways to Combat Stress and Burnout in Your Nursing Career

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

Nursing is one of the most rewarding careers, but at times it can be incredibly stressful.

Stress and burnout are thought to affect between 10 -70% of all nurses at some point in their career. Challenging situations make the job of a nurse that much harder, and stress and burnout contribute to job dissatisfaction, time spent off work and severe mental health problems.

Working closely with nurses, I get to see the many positive aspects of this career that nurses enjoy and have a fundamental knowledge of the real difficulties that nurses face daily. In this article, I want to share with you my five top tips for battling stress and burnout in your nursing career.

First, let’s take a look at some of the vital warning signs to be aware of.


1. Spot the Signs

The first thing that you need to be aware of are the warning signs that indicate you’re heading towards burnout.

Of course, the busy life of a nurse can be very hectic during the day-to-day, and it is this buzz which many nurses thrive on. But there is a difference between having a job which keeps you busy and one that is causing you physical and psychological harm.

Some of the warning signs to look for include:


-High blood pressure

-Tight chest



-Inability to concentrate

-Not being able to switch off

-Negative thoughts

If you know that your job is causing you undue stress and you begin to suffer from any of the above symptoms, it is advisable to speak to your GP.

Additionally, it always helps to talk to someone you trust: let me explain why.


2. Talk to Someone

With an increased awareness of mental health not just in the workplace but in our everyday lives, it is becoming increasingly common for people to feel more comfortable to share when they are struggling.

However, some people still struggle. Especially in a caring profession such as nursing. When you are always used to taking care of others, it can be hard to spot when you need some TLC yourself.

If you start to feel lonely as a result of work pressures that are compounding, it is essential to remember that talking to someone, either a close friend or a relative, can help.


3. Dedicate ‘Down Time’

I know it’s easier said than done, but it can help your outlook on life dramatically when you plan into your free time some ‘switch-off’ activities to help you take your mind off work.

This can be in the form of exercise classes; check your local gym or leisure centre for classes than run when you’re off shift. It doesn’t have to be a 60-minute intensive spin class; gentle exercises like swimming and yoga are proven to release the anti-stress chemicals endorphins.

Or make time for a hobby – reading, knitting, choir; whatever it is that you enjoy, dedicate time each week to a specific downtime activity. It will take your mind off the stresses of your job, and will help you to realise that there is more to your life than just your current stressful role.


4. Speak to Your Manager

If you have tried to manage your stress on your own, but the problem is more significant, it’s time to speak to your manager.

If the cause of your stress is something specific to do with your job, often speaking to your manager can help. If you aren’t coping in a particular area, do you need extra training? Are you frequently left alone with difficult patients and need to bring attention to this so that you can receive extra hands-on help?

Stress is common in nursing, and your manager will be aware of the implications. Your employer would always rather try to help the situation than see you signed off sick with burnout.


5. Change Your Job

If the source of your stress is ingrained in your current role, and no matter how much your manager tries to help, it will always be there – it’s time to look for a new position.

Not all care homes are the same, but unfortunately, during the current nursing staff shortage, many organisations are understaffed, and this compounds the pressures that nurses face.

What kind of role would you like ideally? Different shift patterns to what you do currently, an organisation with enough staff, a modern home with adequate equipment?

You should also look for employers who have a ‘good’ CQC rating or above, and always work with a dedicated nursing recruiter to help locate your next role.


Then Finally

The prevalence of stress is so high in the nursing profession that the Royal College of Nursing provides nurses with a handbook to identify and deal with the effects of it. You can download the full booklet here.

If your current role is causing you excessive stress, we can help you find a new position.

We specialise in placing nursing candidates into roles where they thrive, and we only work with the highest standard of care homes. We have helped thousands of candidates in the North West find their perfect nursing role, take a look at our current vacancies or get in contact with us today to find out how we can help you too.





Clayton Recruitment has been partnering with organisations across the country since 1989 and during that time has built up an excellent reputation for trust and reliability.

With specialist divisions covering Commercial, Financial, Industrial, Nursing, and Engineering appointments, on both a permanent and temporary basis. If you are looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

If you would like to download our latest interview checklist, you can do so here.

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