7 Strategies Nurses Use to Reduce Burnout and Work Stress

Nursing is a challenging profession requiring medical knowledge, interpersonal and technical skills, emotional intelligence, and compassion.

It also requires nurses to understand themselves, their limitations, and when it’s time to step back and recover.

You cannot reduce, eliminate, or avoid every stressful situation in busy work settings.

However, you can make decisions to reduce or eliminate stress/burnout when it’s in your control.

Minimizing burnout requires sufficient recovery time, mental and physical health, strong interpersonal relationships, and outside support and interests.

This article focuses on the strategies nurses use to reduce burnout and work stress to find an optimal work/life balance.

1. Maintain a Healthy Work/Life Balance

A healthy work/life balance is about having good routines that keep you mentally, physically, and emotionally well.

Notably, it allows you to spend quality time in all the essential aspects of your life, not just work.

It’s reasonable to say that part-time nurses experience significantly less burnout than full-time nurses working overtime.

By that statement, it’s easy to summarize that limiting work to the hours you can handle will help minimize burnout.

You don’t need to cut down on a part-time schedule, but you must understand your limits.

Life is more than work.

It’s necessary to prioritize the fulfilling areas of your life, whether spending time with family/pets, reading books, shopping, or going out.

Earning extra money and helping others in need is terrific.

However, it isn’t worth the mental, physical and emotional burnout if it’s causing you to feel unhappy, unfocused, and unrested.

It’s also not enough to take work breaks from time to time when you’re exhausted.

It would help if you said no to unnecessary commitments that cause mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion.

  • Make it clear when you’re overwhelmed with tasks
  • Don’t accept overtime when you need to recover
  • Develop systems to manage work duties effectively

2. Develop Reliable Interpersonal Relationships

Good interpersonal relationships are essential for maintaining mental and emotional health.

It allows you to decompress, better understand yourself, set healthy boundaries, and discover things you enjoy.

It also helps you gain alternative perspectives to solve problems in ways you may not have considered.

You can develop interpersonal relationships with nurses who understand your profession and situation.

They can guide you through strategies, routines, and systems to combat burnout and manage your workload.

You can also find supportive relationships outside work, whether with friends/family, a dance group, exercise class, or fun social events.

Other introverts enjoy quiet company and relaxation even if you’re introverted.

Connecting with others intellectually and emotionally makes life exciting and rewarding.

  • Connect with social groups and join activities
  • Become friends with supportive nurses
  • Unwind with family, friends, and your pets

3. Set Healthy Work Boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries at work can dramatically reduce exhaustion and burnout.

It’s necessary to understand how much work you can reasonably manage and delegate or negotiate the rest.

Setting boundaries requires clear communication, creating a structure, delegating responsibilities, and setting limits.

It’s also about learning to say no when you cannot reasonably handle specific tasks and preparing to handle the pushback.

Setting boundaries It’s a skill.

It takes time to develop the courage to say no or delegate tasks when you’ve said yes for so long.

However, it’s indispensable if you’re experiencing exhaustion because burnout is long-lasting if you don’t immediately resolve the causes of your problems.

4. Pick a Low-Stress Nursing Profession

One strategy nurses use to combat work fatigue, and burnout is to shift from hospital or emergency care to a low-stress career.

The least stressful nursing professions offer regular hours, a reasonable workload, low-stress client/patient settings, and accommodating benefits.

There are numerous low-stress occupations nurses can pursue, most of which are non-bedside care careers.

It includes working as a nurse educator, clinic nurse, administrator, home health nurse, and researcher.

You don’t have to stick with bedside care or direct patient care occupations of the workload is becoming stressful and causing burnout.

Nevertheless, you can stick with hospital work by choosing a less stressful department with more manageable duties.

Low-Stress Nursing Jobs:

  • Nurse administrator
  • Case management nurse
  • Clinic nurse
  • Nurse educator
  • Home health nurse
  • Occupational health nurse
  • Nurse researcher
  • Public health nurse
  • School nurse
  • Travel Nurse

5. Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Numerous relaxation techniques slow down, improve mood, and develop focus/clarity.

Popular relaxation techniques include meditation, deep breathing, visualizations, muscle relaxation, and mindfulness.

Each technique helps you decompress, ease tension, and become aware of what you can control.

In addition, it helps you focus on the moment instead of worrying about past or future activities you can’t predict.

Mindfulness and relaxation exercises are powerful tools to improve your mood in a short amount of time.

They won’t cure stress or altogether remove burnout.

However, they reduce negative feelings that correlate to exhaustion, anxiety, and anxiety.

Relaxation Techniques:

  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Visualization
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Mindfulness
  • Personal affirmations

You can find and practice relaxation exercises online by looking up mindfulness and relaxation techniques.

Numerous phone/watch apps also help develop a meditation, breathing, and mindfulness routine.

Finally, consider consulting mental health experts familiar with mindfulness and mental health exercises.

They can guide you through various techniques to quickly improve your mood and keep you focused during long workdays. 

6. Exercise and Maintain a Healthy Diet

Numerous nurses in my gym use physical exercise to maintain excellent physical shape.

The stress relief and mental well-being achieved from an exercise routine are just as significant as the aesthetic appearance of working out.

Exercise reduces anxiety and improves various physical and psychological factors.

It includes weight control, hormone balance, endorphin release, better endurance and energy, improved sleep, and reducing various illnesses/diseases.

In addition, being physically healthy and feeling light on your feet makes managing physical tasks more manageable.

A healthy diet is also essential for reducing stress and improving mental health.

Consuming foods that fuel the body helps balance numerous hormones that affect mood, irritability, satiety, and pleasure.

Reduce the sugars you consume, eliminate processed foods, drink less alcoholic and high-calorie drinks, and consume more water.

It will improve your mood as your hormones begin normalizing and you see fewer spikes and dips.

In comparison, poor eating spikes insulin and creates insulin resistance causing tiredness and creating gas, bloating, and irritability in the short term.

These factors can profoundly impact how you feel while managing tasks and caring for patients.

For instance, assisting patients while feeling bloated, gassy, tired, and irritated will significantly increase their stress levels and reduce their ability to focus.

Long-term poor eating leads to conditions like being overweight/obese, high blood pressure, depression, and developing various medical disorders/diseases.

Even if you avoid most medical disorders/diseases, gaining weight puts more stress on your feet, knees, joints, and back.

Therefore, maintaining a healthy diet keeps you in optimal mental and physical condition, making daily tasks easier.

7. Seek Therapy and Professional Support

Burnout is a state of emotional and physical exhaustion commonly found in high-stress healthcare professions.

As a result, knowing how to manage mental, physical, and emotional problems is essential for a healthy mind.

Therapists and mental health experts improve how you cope with various work situations.

They also provide tools to reduce stress, identify and fix unresolved issues and determine your motivations.

A good therapist provides a new career perspective and helps you decompress and understand your causes of burnout better.

Accordingly, you can decide the next steps in your career and the necessary changes to reduce stress and burnout.

Finally, they can assist with non-work activities/behaviors that interfere with your life and effectiveness at work.

By reducing stress in other areas of your life, you’ll feel more prepared and focused when at work and happier outside of work.

Hopefully, this article helped you manage the various causes of nurse burnout and find a better work/life balance.