Life is stressful, especially life in healthcare. The high workload, high responsibilities, patient care, daily tasks and hassles- it all adds up and can take a high toll on us. When we are exposed to chronic work stressors over a long period of time, burnout can occur.
There are many work factors that contribute to the development of burnout, and the problem is deeply rooted in the work environment. However, there are personal factors that can also lead to burnout. How we perceive stress and our response to stressors can also determine how well we cope with stress.
We have responsibility over how we approach life, including work. We can find strategies to help us better cope with our stressors, find ways to better manage our energy, and engage in roles and routines that bring us joy and satisfaction in life.
Just like coffee is essential to the Gilmore Girls, it’s essential that we recharge ourselves especially when life becomes stressful. We may hear the follow strategies a lot, but do we overlook them? How often are we truly implementing these strategies?
Let’s go into these three overlooked ways to recharge yourself:
PLAN A VACATION
Taking a vacation is a strategy to recharge your figurative batteries. Expending energy at work must be met with sufficient recovery, or greater levels of bodily stress are likely to occur, which can lead to disease (von Hooff et al., 2011). Vacations are powerful for a number of reasons.
Vacation, which typically refers to a longer period of rest when compared to nights and weekends, can be regarded as a prime opportunity to recover from work stress and the negative consequences from stress. In fact, a longitudinal study over a nine-year period found that not taking annual vacations has been associated with increased morbidity (de Bloom, 2012).
Another reason that makes vacations powerful is that they represent the longest period of temporary absence from work and may, therefore, constitute a more powerful respite opportunity than shorter rest intervals like nights and weekends (de Bloom, Geurts, and Kompier, 2013).
Follow the research and book yourself a vacation! Whether you take two shorter or one longer getaway (or however many getaways you want), nothing says recharge your batteries like laying on a beautiful beach, holding a refreshing drink, and reading a good book.
CheapCaribbean.com offers affordable and memorable getaways across the Caribbean and Central America. Nurses can sign up for the ER&R Club and receive exclusive offers, discounts, upgrades, packages, and more. #ScrubsOffVacayOn
PS- You can get a head start on your vacation with this nifty vacation inspiration planner! Print it and use it as a checklist for your packing and preparation. We did the work for you so you can pack care-free and focus on your main goal- Relaxation with a capital R.
PLAN A STAYCATION
Sometimes a little staycation is what we need. Equivalent to a little pick-me-up in the mid-afternoon (hello Cuban coffee!), a staycation can be a quick reboot that can be beneficial to your health and well-being. In fact, frequent respites might be more important to preserve well-being than the duration of one single recovery episode (de Bloom, Geurts, and Kompier, 2013).
Apart from taking solid vacations, a staycation can work out if you have a long weekend or some PTO that you need to use up.
Staycations can be tricky though, because you may be tempted to complete chores and errands. What works for me is removing myself from my familiar scenery. Going to a hotel in your city and acting like a tourist can be a nice change of pace. Get a massage, go to the pool, take a tour of your city, have a fun night out- whatever it is you feel like doing, minus the flight or long car drive.
CREATE DAILY ROUTINES
How can you recharge yourself on the daily? With your daily routines. Pro tip: The things you do (or don’t do) will add up, either in your favor or against your favor. If you want to recharge yourself after a long day at work and increase your health and well-being, there are things that you can do that will support that or not support that.
Adaptive coping strategies like yoga, laughing, talking with a friend, meditation and relaxation exercises, and exercise have been shown to increase subjective well-being. Simultaneously, maladaptive coping strategies like eating more than usual, drinking alcohol to excess, smoking, gambling, and using illegal drugs were associated with higher levels of stress and decreased physical and mental well-being (Holton, Barry, & Chaney, 2016).
Find adaptive coping strategies that you are drawn to and implement them in your life. Not everyone will benefit from the same meditation app or yoga class. If you don’t know where to start, start off small with one change you can make in your week that will help you to recharge.
I’m a big fan of creating a ‘recharging station’ in your home that you can retreat to at the end of the night to help you wind down- aka, your ‘power-down hour.’ The hour before you go to bed, dedicate that time to doing activities that will relax you and prepare your mind and body for those sweet Zzz’s.
There is power in routines, so creating a routine that you can practice every night can replenish your batteries.
What can you include in your power-down hour? Read a book, color in an adult coloring book, crochet, draw some sweet Gabby Bernstein cards (my absolute favorite- this is the new deck!), do a meditation, do some gentle stretches- you get the idea!