I don’t think I appreciated how hard being a nursing student was. Whenever I got told about how hard the course would be, or how much you have to juggle in terms of employment, placement and assignments I just thought “yeah I can do it, it can’t be as bad as people make out”, when actually it’s so much harder than I anticipated.

Back towards the end of last year I got myself into a bit of a rut. My motivation was at its lowest, I was continuing my work but definitely not putting in the 110% that I had been. There was no real reason or situation that happened for me to do this, I was just tired. I think everything has just caught up with me and before I knew it I was extremely burnt out.

I didn’t really know much about burn out before I experienced it. I think the first time I experienced burn out was a couple of years ago in an old job, where I had some very stressful shifts and no time off or debriefing process to help.

Burnout had also been called “stress syndrome” and in 2019 the World Health Organisation has updated their definition.

Burn-out is defined in ICD-11 as follows:

“Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
  • reduced professional efficacy.

Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.” (WHO, 2019)

It’s important to look after your stress levels. Don’t get me wrong it’s far easier said than done. I think as people working within the healthcare environment we can take on everyone else’s stress as well as our own. Sometimes I wonder if we can care too much which can result in compassion fatigue.

I think we also need to remember that experiencing burn out does not make you “weak”. In fact I think it’s pretty brave to admit that you aren’t feeling great.

I believe that we recognise burn out in ourselves when it’s too late. Some ways I help myself with burnout are:

  • Reducing work load
  • Taking time to reflect on the little things
  • Focusing more time on self care
  • Prioritising the important stuff like spending time with family and people I care about

Over Christmas I took some time off and was able to go home for a couple of weeks to visit my family and friends. I can’t tell you how much better I felt not having to worry about things. I didn’t even take any work home as I wanted to complete switch off.

Now that I am back in Leicester I am even more motivated and driven than I was before, and this time I am purposely giving myself time to focus on me, and making sure I have time to properly organise myself.

I’m pretty lucky to have a secure support network, so if I do ever feel a little deflated or lost on my journey I can always count on those I need to give me that extra boost!

Here’s to listening and looking after myself!