Check Your Vital Signs: Four Warning Signs of Impending Burnout!


Check Your Vital Signs: Four Warning Signs of Impending Burnout!

By Sue Heacock

Check your BP, pulse, O2 and respirations to determine if you are on a collision course with burnout. This article offers little solutions – well, perhaps a couple simple ones at the end – but rather offers questions to ask in determining your personal burnout potential. See how many questions you can HONESTLY answer in the positive. If you have more negative responses – reevaluate your life – as you may be on the road to burnout. Don’t follow that path – get help!

CHECK YOUR BP:  No, not your blood pressure. 

Brain power:  Do you find yourself forgetting more often and feeling scattered? Do you find you can’t pull that information out of your self-storage as quickly as you used to?

Patient care: Ask yourself the MOST important question: “Are my patients getting the care they deserve?” If the answer is “no,” are you being fair to your patients, peers, or true to yourself?

CHECK YOUR PULSE:  Not that pulse!

Peer interactions:  Do you blame your peers for situations that are your fault? Do you constantly tell your peers what he/she is doing wrong instead of giving a compliment or providing words of encouragement?

Understanding of your situation: Do you not understand what has changed? Do you feel something is going awry, but not sure what it is?

Life enjoyment:  Do you not get the same enjoyment out of your life as you used to? Do those joyful hobbies and family outings seem more like commitments instead of pleasurable experiences?

Stress signs: Are you eating more? Sleeping less? Feeling “not myself?” Participating in other self-destructive behaviors (alcohol, drugs, etc.)?

Exchanges with significant others away from work are failing!: Do you find these relationships being negatively impacted by job stress? Do you bring frustrations home and take them out on your loved ones?

CHECK YOUR O2: This is O-squared. Remember Algebra 101?

First O: Oppositional attitude? Is the glass always half empty – no matter what angle you look at the glass from? Does everything in your life seem negative? Even when you do great at work, do you feel you are just not good enough?

Second O:  Out of sorts? Where did I put my keys? Who keeps taking my pen? What day is it? I missed that darn dentist appointment again! If you find yourself losing items or forgetting important information, you may be on the wrong path!

CHECK YOUR RESPIRATIONS: Not the breathing ones.

Responses: Are you quick to snap responses to those around you without thinking? Are your responses hurtful and emotional instead of professional and helpful?

Everything in my life stinks!: If you find no enjoyment in your job or your home life, burnout is close at hand! Make some changes quick!

Sleep pattern: Can’t sleep normally? Waking up in the middle of the night and not able to go back to sleep? Or the reverse – can’t get enough sleep? Just want to crawl under the covers and get away from the world as often as possible?

People in your life: Remember your significant others? Do you find your friends and family members have been finding excuses not to spend time with you? Why is that?

Interactions with supervisors: Are you blaming your potential burnout on your supervisors? Are you quick to attribute everything that goes wrong to your supervisors and/or organizational policies? Losing that ethic of personal responsibility?

Realistic expectations: Do you find that you are approaching life as if there are 48 hours in a day instead of 24? Are you being realistic with what you are REALLY able to accomplish each day? If not – something has to change – before burnout sneaks up and grabs you!

Attitude: This goes with everything already mentioned! Enough said about attitude!

Take me out of here: Do you get to work every day, park the car and say to yourself: “I can’t wait until this workday is over?” I see burnout on the horizon!

I can’t!: Does every third sentence you speak or thought rolling around in your head start with the words, “I can’t…?” 

Okay…now that I know what is going on, I am going to do something about it before the situation worsens.

Now is the time to do something about it!

Seriously!  Now is the time to do something about it!

About the Author

Sue Heacock, RN, MBA, COHN-S is the author of “Inspiring the Inspirational: Words of Hope From Nurses to Nurses,” a compilation of stories from nurses around the country, with a sprinkling of inspirational quotes. Sue is a certified occupational health nurse specialist and has worked in a variety of areas of nursing including pediatrics and research. Before entering the nursing profession, Sue worked in human resources and equal employment opportunity. 

Click here to read more on Sue Heacock.

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