Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are experts at caring for the mental health of others. People making a career in Psychiatric Health Nursing work long hours caring for the well-being of their patients.
The National Institutes of Health published a study of Burnout in Mental Health Services. The review reported that 21-67% of mental health workers experience high levels of stress. Emotional exhaustion was listed as one of the main contributors to burnout.
So, what happens when you start feeling tired, stressed out, and have difficulty with day-to-day activities? To avoid burnout, you need to prioritize your mental and physical health and wellness by practicing self-care for Nurse Practitioners.
Continue reading to discover self-care strategies for Nurse Practitioners that help improve mental and physical health.
What Is Self Care for Nurse Practitioners?
Self-care for Nurse Practitioners can be defined as mental, physical, and spiritual practices that nurture well-being in your personal life and professionally. These strategies can include personal self-care that gives Nurse Practitioners time for reflection and self-improvement.
Because self-care for Nurse Practitioners is a personal development journey, it can look different for everyone. Finding what works for you — whether it be eating healthy food, taking up meditation, or making time for exercise daily — is important to avoid burnout and nurture long-term healthy habits.
Common Triggers for Nurse Practitioners
This field is demanding and requires a physical and emotional commitment to patient health. Due to the nature of the work, there are common triggers that Nurse Practitioners may face in their daily responsibilities. Some of these triggers include:
- Sleep Deprivation - Nurse Practitioners who work rotating shifts or night shifts may struggle to make time to rest. Lack of sleep can affect personal health and well-being by causing irritability, difficulty focusing, and exhaustion.
- Difficulty Dealing with the Ill - Although caring for the sick is part of a Nurse Practitioner’s duties and daily work, being submerged in this environment can be difficult over time. Without taking time to implement self-care strategies, Nurse Practitioners may face burnout and struggle to maintain health.
- Work Overload - Nurse Practitioners may feel that they have too much work to complete and not ample time to do so. Feeling overwhelmed by their workload can cause stress, anxiety, and feelings of failure.
- Exposure to Illness - Being consistently exposed to illness can present a physical and emotional trigger for Nurse Practitioners. Without social support in their personal and professional lives, this constant exposure can have lasting effects.
Top strategies for Mental Health Nurse Practitioners
There are many ways self-care can address workplace triggers. Here are the top four tips on how Nurse Practitioner Psychiatrists can focus on self-care.
Put yourself first
Yes, you do matter, so always find time to focus on yourself. Like many healthcare professionals, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners often ignore the importance of their mental health, almost to a level of self-neglect. Take time to practice self-care even for just a few minutes of the day.
Writing down your thoughts and struggles in a journal is one way to do a quick “brain dump” of overwhelming thoughts and help clear your mind. Grab a cup of coffee, sit down to eat a healthy snack, or catch up on the latest news on your social media account. You could even schedule a short counseling session via a telehealth app with a mental health professional. Putting yourself first is a great way to practice self-care for Nurse Practitioners.
Reach out for help
Spending long days working in a stressful environment is high on the list of burnout risk factors. Knowing when to reach out for help is a valuable way for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners to practice self-care. When enough is enough, you might need a break from your daily duties. Sometimes it is better to walk away from a potential confrontation with a psychiatric patient and address it when you are feeling calm and in control of the situation.
In a perfect world, the health care organization where you are employed has processes in place for paying attention to heavy or stressful workloads and intervening when necessary. You and your co-workers can lead the change to create a positive workplace culture by forming an internal support team you can all turn to during difficult times. Although self-care can be a personal journey, it’s also important to rely on the help and support of others.
Practice mindfulness and Take Up Meditation
Regular cardiovascular exercise benefits everyone, no matter what you do for a living. Yet, a great physical self-care strategy for busy Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners is to schedule an appointment for yourself to practice mindfulness exercises.
Meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi are just a few ways to exercise your mind while decreasing stress and anxiety. Hiking and power walking outdoors are other ways to become mindful of your surroundings, reconnect with nature, and work on physical self-care. Even apps and online programs are available if you are interested in attending a virtual mindful awareness session.
Start a hobby
Do a bit of soul-searching to find something outside of work that sparks joy. Taking up a new hobby or getting back to the one you’ve neglected has many benefits when it comes to self-care for Nurse Practitioners. Anything creative such as painting, woodwork, baking, and gardening, are just a few hobbies that can help you unwind after a long and stressful day. Not only are hobbies a great way to decompress, but they can also help your immune system and mental well-being as you work to practice self-care.
What is Burnout in a Nursing Role, and What Are Some Alternative Pathways?
Burnout in a nursing role can be defined as emotional exhaustion and fatigue that leads to a lack of motivation and productivity. Burnout can happen when practicing self-care is ignored and you do not take the time to lead a balanced life that promotes personal health. Thankfully, there are alternative pathways for Nurse Practitioners experiencing burnout.
Looking for a change in scenery?
If you are looking for a change of scenery, you may want to consider locum tenens roles. These temporary assignments allow you to change your schedule, choose to work inpatient vs. outpatient, and gain control of your routine and Nursing practice. These perks could potentially help relieve the burnout and stress that comes with a permanent, always-on position. Whether you work as a Family Nurse Practitioner or as part of the World Health Organization, there are many opportunities for Nurse Practitioners considering locum tenens work.
Benefits of locum tenens work
Additional benefits of locum tenens include:
- Higher-income potential
- A shorter amount of time working
- Freedom to choose to work one day a month or one day a week
- Finding work in your chosen specialty from on-site therapy to a stroke clinic
Locum tenens positions also provide a flexible schedule that meets your needs versus a standard Nurse Practitioner's job.
Locum Tenens Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner opportunities
When you learn how to care for yourself and promote health (physical and emotional), you can better care for others. One way to work on self-care is to adjust the hours worked and switch up your work environment. According to Health Carousel Locum Tenens, Neurology locum tenens positions are perfect if you are a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner looking for a more flexible schedule.
Many Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) roles require years of experience in your specialty. If you have just been certified and do not yet have two years of experience, you may run into difficulties. While it is not impossible to find a position, you may need to adjust your rate expectations.
Working a locum tenens Psychiatric position lets you maximize your pay rate while working whenever and wherever you want. Locum tenens roles also help build your resume, expand your professional network, and empower you to practice medicine when you are just starting.
A locum tenens agency helps manage all the logistics and paperwork, including the credentialing process and license verification. The Health Carousel Locum Tenens Network can help you find a variety of assignments like locum tenens roles, permanent, government, or contract-to-hire.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are some examples of self-care for Nurse Practitioners?
Three self-care strategies for Nurse Practitioners include getting regular exercise (30-40 minutes a day), eating a balanced diet, and fostering relationships outside of work that promote health, both physically and emotionally. Nursing professions can differ, from Family Nurse Practitioner work to ICU care, so it may take time to find the self-care strategy that works best for you. Be patient as you embark on a journey to find what self-care practices help you lead a balanced life.
Why is self-care important for Nurse Practitioners?
The nature of the profession is demanding. Nurse Practitioners have to invest emotionally and physically into caring for their patients, which can lead to feelings of fatigue and anxiety. Without making time to practice self-care, this profession can lead to burnout.
What is professional self-care?
Professional self-care is the act of taking care of yourself while at work. This can include taking regular breaks, focusing on the task at hand, and stepping away from work when needed. Professional self-care can also include professional growth. For Nurse Practitioners, this may mean pursuing online Nursing degree programs or taking a different route with their Nursing education. Making time to prioritize self-care, both personally and professionally, is essential for Nurse Practitioners across medical fields.