Causes of Overwork
Many nurses often feel exposed to high levels of strain, both physical and mental. The most common symptoms are: back pain, insomnia, and burn-out. In the field of nursing, the rate of people suffering from this is extremely high. There are several reasons for this. The daily demand on the body and the mind eats away at nursing staff’s wellbeing. Back and neck pains are caused by frequently carrying and lifting people or objects. Many professional nurses frequently work under time pressure. As a result, the feeling arises for many that they have not cared for the residents well enough.
The suffering of people with illnesses or impairments can also become traumatic for many nurses. After all, they have to watch every day as residents struggle with their situation. Yet, even working outside the nursing home does not protect workers from mental difficulties. On the contrary, the demands of relatives are a not infrequent burden on nurses. Dementia in older generations can also be difficult for relatives. Then there are also the personal interests and the occupation of the nurses. Reconciling both with the person being cared for is partially very difficult and highly stress-inducing.
Tips for engaging with care and nursing in a healthy way
#1 – Balancing the workload with time off
Sounds easy, but of course it often isn’t that simple. Ideally, the workload and time off should roughly balance out. Where possible, tasks should also be passed on to others every now and again. In addition to this, there should also be sufficient breaks. To help reduce work strain, you should also know your boundaries and only do as much as is actually possible. Tasks should be worked through one at a time, so that your mind doesn’t become too chaotic at work. Spend your free time pursuing your own interests or spending time with your loved ones.
#2 – Take care of your health
People who are healthy can cope with more strain. A healthy lifestyle is therefore particularly advisable. This includes:
- A healthy diet
- Exercise (see #3)
- Not smoking
- Little to no alcohol
- Sufficient, restful sleep
- Drinking enough water
#3 – Look after your back – exercise
Your back is what is affected most by working in nursing. Therefore, it is very important to look after it as much as possible. Ensure that you are lifting safely: when you lift, tense the muscles in your back and stomach, lift from a squatting position and use the power from your legs. Move slowly and with control. In addition, people in need of care should only be lifted with the help of another person. Beds can also be adjusted so that the resident lying there can be cared for by nursing staff who are standing. Equally, you can also sometimes take a step back at work. Let the people being cared for try to accomplish certain things, which are within their capabilities, themselves and provide them with assistance as they do so.
Furthermore, you should support your back muscles with enough exercise. Walks, running, and yoga can help, but targeted back training and exercises are especially good.
#4 – Look out for the symptoms
Do not underestimate the first signs of overwork, and take them seriously. For example, you should look out for the following symptoms:
- Muscle tension, neck and back pains
- Restlessness, heart palpitations, aggressiveness and irritability
- Insomnia, headaches, and fatigue
- Sadness, depression, and anxiety
See your doctor regularly.
#5 – Make use of available support
A (free)consultation targeted at nurses and care workers can be useful here. It offers support in the form of counselling pertaining to resources and facilities, as well as offering mental support and relief. You should also speak to other nursing staff and discuss possible problems and solutions.