Take Time to Replenish and Not Burn Out

We have been inundated with events full of sadness and tragedy in a few short weeks. Just as we feel there’s a lull and maybe we can catch our breath, something else happens. From the 2017 hurricanes to earthquakes to the devastating mass shooting in Las Vegas, there has been no time to regroup much less time to grieve.

First responders spring into action and just keep going. Nurses and doctors take over the continuum and carry on, while the first responders jump back into action. Precious life hangs in the balance. Some are saved; and some sadly die. Everyone has a story and six degrees of separation never seems more real than in the midst of a crisis. Someone knows someone who knows someone who was involved and it all becomes too real.

The Hits Just Keep Coming

More than any other time in our lives as health care providers, it is essential to stop and regroup when faced with massive tragedies. Taking a moment just to replenish our souls and our bodies so that we can dig back in and do it all again could not be more necessary.  When there seems to be no end to the madness and the furry of Mother Nature,we are even more challenged to find a break where we can stop for a moment. We must not lose sight of the fact that we must do this! It is a proven fact.

Hurricane Katrina 2005

Hurricane Katrina 2005 (public domain)

None of us as nurses or paramedics has an endless supply of giving. We have to constantly replenish it so we can continue to give. If we don’t, we become part of the problem and that is something we never want to do. So it’s imperative to stay aware of the fact that we must allow ourselves a chance to jump off the fast track and take a break to prevent burnout.  Eat something, sleep a little and let our emotions spill out. Hug our loved ones even tighter. And take a moment to smell the roses and to feel the sunshine.

Sit on the earth and feel it enshrine us for a moment refilling the energy from the core. When you do, you will notice your energy and your ability to cope improve intensely. If you don’t take this time to reset, you will burn out. You will fall to exhaustion and you will not be able to help anyone as well as you could. And you may find yourself on the receiving end of care.

Know When to Stop and Reset

Pushing through is what we do and what people expect of us, but we need to know when to stop and let someone else take over. We are not super heroes and robots.  We are paramedics and nurses, but we are also human beings. We need to know how to recharge quickly and when it’s safe for us to jump back in. This is purely an individual thing and it requires you to look deeply into your soul and be entirely honest. Never judge yourself or others as each of us requires different amounts of time to recuperate. The more personal the tragedy is, the more it affects us. But you often never know what someone’s back story is for that moment in time. Just take care of YOU! Learn about self-care workarounds.

Grief is a huge part of the scenario. As human beings we empathize with others and feel their pain. Understanding and feeling someone’s loss causes us to grieve for their loss. When it becomes personal or hits too close to home, the grief becomes more real to us. Stuffing it down never helps; let it out and build on the good things that will eventually rise from the ashes. Teach others how to channel their anger, frustration and empathy to help others and try to make things better and safer for all. Allow yourself to grieve appropriately.

Sometimes you will need a major reset and sometimes just something as simple as a hug, a few minutes of peace and quiet to breathe deeply and lose yourself in a day dream.  Learn to listen to your body and your mind. Sometimes you’ll need to take a long shower, turn up the music and cry your heart out. Even the strongest man can benefit from this! Laughing can soothe the soul and change your whole perspective on things. Just start laughing and see where it takes you. It’s contagious and one of the best techniques you can put into action anytime. If necessary, a simple explanation of breaking the ice, the tension or time to replenish is all that’s needed. Everyone can join in and feel better quickly.

Refocus and Say Thank you

Stop and take stock of the situation. Realize what you have done and thank yourself for all you have done. Thank your co-workers too. It’s not always possible for others to thank you in the midst of a crisis and some you may never see again. But don’t lose sight of the gratitude for what you do for others.  Know that you’ve done a good job and carry on.

There will always be another crisis and a need for first responders and nurses. Take care of you so that you can continue to care for others who need your skills, talents and abilities. Carry these habits into your career as you transition to nursing. It will be just as important to prevent burnout!