The Path to Increasing Your Professional Quality of Life: Reduction of Compassion Fatigue, Stress and Burnout
Job-related stress in nurses leads to high rates of burnout, compromises patient care, and costs US healthcare organizations billions of dollars annually. Nurses are vulnerable to several related effects of stress, such as burnout, job dissatisfaction, increased interpersonal problems, increased health complaints, disturbances in sleep patterns, as well as clinical depression and anxiety. How we can deal with the stress that nurses endure? It is argued that the self-care is an effective way to increase the resilience of nurse so as to adapt to the fatigues. There is a direct correlation between nurses’ personality characteristics (optimism, faith, self-efficacy, control and coping style) and their psychological level of elasticity. Individuals who often deal with conflict in a negative way, tend to have a low resilience. Cheerful nurses, with self -control ability, better able to work in the face of negative factors, usually have a high level of resilience. We will discuss tools to assist our nursing colleagues help manage and reduce stress levels.
Key Words: Stress, Job Performance, Burnout, Work-Overload
We spend much of daily lives working. In fact, Americans spend about eight-times as many hours working as they do eating and drinking (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013). Approximately seven in ten Americans report that they experience symptoms of stress (Anderson, Belar, Breckler, Nordal, Ballard, Bufka, Bossolo & Bethune, 2013). Stress is elicited by a variety of psychological stimulus associated with our jobs, our residences, our social interactions, and the activities we engage in (p. 249, Franken, 2007). Many Americans live with the burden of an unsatisfying job as well as a stressful workplace. An online survey of 1,848 people in the United States, conducted by the American Psychological Association, found that 74 percent of people name work as their primary source of stress (p. 284, Schultz and Schultz,
2010). In the workplace, stress is reflected in lower productivity, reduced motivation as well as increased errors and accidents (p. 284, Schultz and Schultz, 2010). Excessive stress can lead to many adverse consequences. When people experience too much stress, they can also suffer from psychological consequences such as depression and sleep
disorders (p. 191, Griffin & Moorhead, 2014). Research shows that stress can even contribute to the development of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, and obesity, as well as exacerbate existing illnesses (Anderson et al., 2013).
Nursing is recognized as an occupation that is under stress on both professional and personal levels. In recent years, increasing amount of nursing disputes cause the shortage of nurses currently threatens health care globally. One of the reasons of this shortage is that nurses experience high levels of stress and work load in acute care settings. Although all professions are susceptible to work-related stress, researchers have determined that the nursing profession is particularly stressful (Villani, Grassi, Cognetta, Toniolo, Cipresso, & Riva, 2013). Some argue that because of increasing demands, nurses are more susceptible to exhaustion, anxiety and stress (Aarons, & Sawitzky, 2006).
How we can deal with the compassion fatigue of nurses. It is argued that the self-care is an effective way to increase the resilience of nurse so as to adapt to the fatigues. The first propriety for nurses’ self-care is to establish a proper environment in nurses’ workplace and home for their self-care. Normally nurses will be fully devoted to work with full and high enthusiasm. However, the fatigue reduces the enthusiasm and the compassion. The conflicts between nurses and patients is generally caused by pool mental conditions of nurse rather than by lack of nurses’ occupational ethics. Therefore, when the disputes happen, a flexible environment should be given to the nurses first rather than blaming the nurses for their false. Tolerant from the hospital management, doctors and all the patients are the base for self-care of nurses.
Another way to support the self-care of nurses is to increase the salary and provide high economic incentives to nurses. Care managers should eliminate factors that can cause fatigue of nurses through clarifying the nurse duties, improving the social status of nurses, reducing workload and increasing the incomes. Managers should focus on nurse’s objective, visible, practical support, such as benefits, work environment. It is also necessary to make nurses experience the emotional support, such as encouragement and recognition and so on. By creating a good and warm atmosphere between nurses and their manager, nurses are more likely to self-care and reduce the fatigue.
Self-care is to train nurses to cope with the stress by themselves in face of pressure. The pressure and fatigue will not disappear naturally, nurses must actively intervene pressure by correct understanding of stress and active restraint discontent. The nurses can self-care themselves through appreciating their work, looking for more advantages, reducing psychological comparisons etc. Having the necessary knowledge of mental health, science and arrange a time, living a regular, moderate exercise sports, a healthy physique to cope with stress. Learning to cope with the pressure of psychological defense skills, find their own decompression methods: such as singing, listening to music, chat, talk, humor, transfer, take a deep breath to relax more. Learning a set of communication skills , learn to communicate between people think, feel , ways and means of exchanging general information and precautions, flexibility, improve surrounding relationships and deal with family.
It is also important to build a mental health supporting system to nurses, including the friends, colleagues, families, and psychological counseling experts. When in the depressed impenetrable to nurses, complaining to the system and seek psychological help. Such as mental stress, limited mental capacity, nurses need specialized psychological counseling or treatment. After concentrating on work, to make reasonable arrangements for the pace of life, by forming a degree of relaxation lifestyle, timely adjustment and vent their negative emotions, improve work efficiency, enhance interpersonal and problem-solving skills. Nurses cannot give up learning, reducing worries for the future by learning skills.
There is a direct correlation between nurses’ personality characteristics (optimism, faith, self-efficacy, control and coping style) and their psychological level of elasticity. Individuals who often deal with conflict in a negative way, tend to have a low resilience. Cheerful nurses, with self -control ability, better able to work in the face of negative factors, usually have a high level of resilience. In addition, high self-efficacy are more likely to exhibit a positive and optimistic and strong self-confidence. Self-confidence makes nurses more positive appeal in clinical work and can also help to establish a good relationship between the nurses and the patient 's families. It is also helpful to improve comfort of their work environment and increase their job satisfaction. Nurses with high scores character strengths can better cushion the negative effects of work stress on mental elasticity. Managers therefore able to detect from the details of the negative experience of expression within the nurses and help them establish a positive attitude and positive belief, as well as the right way to deal with conflicts. This can assist nurses in building better character.
In conclusion, due to the stressful working conditions and high workload, nursing is a high-risk profession. The pressure has a negative effect on nurse’ mental health and may cause resignation if it is not handled properly. Adaptability and resilience are required for nurses to adapt to the stressful working environment, overcome the difficulties when dealing with the emergencies.
Biography: Jennifer Shipman is working in Retirement Plan Manager at Randstad General Staffing Bennett College
Jennifer Shipman, The Path to Increasing Your Professional Quality of Life: Reduction of Compassion Fatigue, Stress and Burnout, World Nursing Congress 2020, 54th World Congress on Nursing and Health Care, May 13-14, 2020