When it is your job to constantly take care of others, you want to ensure that you also take care of yourself. In the healthcare world, this seems obvious, but nurses are at huge risk of constant fatigue.
Nursing is a demanding profession that usually requires long hours, intense focus, and a lot of physical, and emotional strength. Nurse fatigue is a common issue seen in the healthcare industry, and can have serious consequences like decreased job satisfaction, increased risk of medical errors, and even compromised safety. Fortunately, there are several ways to help reduce nurse fatigue that we will discuss below. But first, let’s learn more about what fatigue is.
What is Fatigue? How is it Different From Tiredness?
Fatigue isn’t just simply being tired, it is much more extensive than that. It’s a state of physical and mental exhaustion that affects a person’s ability to function effectively. Occasional fatigue is normal, and many people have probably experienced it at one point or another, but the persistent fatigue that nurses face can be a serious problem.
Persistent fatigue can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life, as well as their ability to perform daily activities and work-related tasks. For nurses, this can lead to serious health concerns, jeopardize patient safety, and put employers at risk.
When you are tired, a good night’s sleep and some quick self-care can do the trick, but when you are fatigued, you may need to adjust entire aspects of your life to fully feel better. Managing fatigue is important for maintaining overall health and well-being.
What Causes Fatigue?
Nearly 85% of nurses experience some form of fatigue (career, mental, physical, etc.). So what is causing our essential healthcare workers to feel this way?
The primary cause of fatigue is inadequate sleep. Health issues, bad habits, or intense daily routines can also contribute to fatigue. Because of how frequently their work schedules conflict with the regular pattern of rest, many nurses find it difficult to obtain enough sleep. Being under constant stress with patients and maybe consuming too much caffeine on the job are also cited as causes of fatigue.
Knowing what causes fatigue and preparing healthcare facilities can help diminish major issues. Read the following ways how to help reduce nurse fatigue.
Ways to Reduce Nurse Fatigue
Adequate Rest and Sleep
One of the most essential factors in reducing nurse fatigue is ensuring that nurses get adequate rest and sleep. This can be challenging in a profession that requires unconventional schedules and long hours, but it is essential for maintaining physical and mental health. Nurses should prioritize getting enough sleep – aiming for 7 or more hours – to help keep fatigue away. This may include using earplugs or white noise machines to block out distractions and minimizing exposure to light during sleep hours.
Proper Nutrition and Hydration
Another key factor in reducing nurse fatigue is maintaining proper nutrition and hydration. Nurses should aim to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. They should also stay hydrated by drinking water and avoiding sugary or caffeinated beverages (we know energy drinks are important for long work days but too much caffeine can worsen fatigue).
Proper nutrition and hydration can help maintain energy levels and reduce feelings of fatigue throughout the day. Additionally, healthcare facilities should make sure their staff has easy access to healthy food and snack options.
Prioritize Breaks and Self-Care
Nurses should be able to take regular breaks and ensure they have adequate time off to recharge, recover, and enjoy life. This may mean taking a short walk, stretching, or doing a mindfulness exercise during a break. It also means ensuring that nurses have enough time off between shifts to rest and recover.
Allowing nurses to work flexible schedules can help them figure out what their individual needs are to feel well-rounded in their careers. Additionally, simple self-care for as little as 10 minutes a day can help nurses feel happier, healthier, and more satisfied with their jobs.
Nurses spend a lot of time on their feet performing physically demanding tasks. So finding a way to make the work environment more ergonomic will be beneficial to reducing fatigue. This may include using proper lifting techniques, adjusting the height of equipment to avoid awkward positions, and using comfortable and supportive footwear.
Ergonomic workspaces, such as Workstations on Wheels (WOWs) can help reduce physical strain and prevent fatigue. DATACART™ medical carts provide nurses with convenient sit-to-stand capabilities and ergonomic accessories that will give them much-needed rest while still being able to properly complete their daily tasks. Medical carts may even help nurses become more productive and efficient.
Supportive Work Environment
Creating a supportive work environment is essential for reducing nurse fatigue. This includes having a positive workplace culture that values teamwork, communication, and mutual respect. Nurses should feel comfortable raising concerns and providing feedback on work processes that may be contributing to fatigue. A supportive work environment can also help reduce stress and prevent burnout.
When a job demands dealing with families, sick individuals, and other coworkers, it is easy to get overwhelmed by constant interactions. Setting boundaries can help keep nurses motivated throughout their careers and prevent them from becoming overburdened by the number of individuals they must engage with each day.