Trauma and nurses: the importance of self-compassion. Let's talk about Fatigue symptoms
As a vocation, nursing may be incredibly stressful and traumatic for some individuals who choose to pursue it. Compassion fatigue and burnout can result from long work hours, dealing with stressful conditions, and witnessing horrific occurrences. Self-compassion is a crucial component of self-care and plays a role here. Self-compassion is a skill that nurses need to develop to show themselves the same respect and care that they give their patients. Nurses' mental and physical health can benefit from self-compassion because it improves their ability to recognise and respond to their needs, emotions, and experiences. Prioritising self-compassion helps nurses become more resilient and effective in caring for patients.
We all feel tired from time to time, but when tiredness is linked to mental health conditions, it is called fatigue.
Fatigue is the ultimate tired feeling and can affect you physically, mentally, or both. Many different factors are involved when describing fatigue as a symptom, not a condition. Feeling constantly tired can start to impact all areas of your life. Let's find out more about it below.
Check if you have any of these symptoms of fatigue:
Do you experience chronic tiredness?
Do you suffer from headaches?
Do you feel dizzy or lightheaded?
Do you have aching muscles?
Do you feel weak or lack energy?
Do you have difficulty concentrating?
Are you easily irritable?
Do you have reduced immune system function?
Do you lack motivation or feel apathetic?
Recovering nurses are particularly susceptible to experiencing fatigue due to the nature of their work.
Causes of fatigue can include:
● Medical causes – Underlying thyroid disorders, heart disease, or diabetes can cause fatigue.
● Lifestyle-related causes – Factors such as alcohol or drug use, lack of regular exercise, poor diet, or injury can lead to fatigue.
● Workplace-related causes – Burnout, shift work, unemployment, and workplace stress such as heavy workload, bullying, or constant changes can develop into fatigue over time. Nurses are especially at risk due to their job's physical and emotional demands.
● Emotional concerns and stress – Mental health problems such as depression and grief can also cause fatigue, maybe accompanied by other symptoms listed above. It is essential for recovering nurses from prioritizing their mental health and well-being to combat this cause of fatigue.
How to treat fatigue
Understanding the underlying reason you have developed fatigue is essential, as this will help you understand how to recover.
It is important to talk to your doctor if you are feeling fatigued. They may run some tests to rule out any underlying medical problems as well as offer ideas on how to alleviate your feeling of tiredness.
Thankfully most people recover from fatigue on their own or by making some simple changes to their lifestyle. We have included a short list of ideas below.
Tips to help you develop more energy
Apart from one or two tips below (Talk to your doctor before taking part in new exercise routines if you are worried), these tips can be used by anyone to help improve your sleep routine and quality.
● Regular exercise. Taking part in regular exercise has been proven to help improve your mental and physical health. This doesn't mean you have to run a marathon; a short stroll around your local park is a good start.
● Short naps. Don't sleep too long during the day, as this can impact your nighttime sleep. Keep naps to 20-30 minutes; this will give you the boost of energy you need.
● Develop a bedtime routine. A relaxing, consistent bedtime routine will help calm your body, ready to fall asleep when the time comes. Keeping your bedroom as dark as possible can also help your drift off to sleep.
● Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. These drinks can hinder your sleep quality and make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep at night.
● Turn off your devices. Make the bedroom a no-phone zone; screens keep our brains active instead of relaxing.
Have I felt more than just generally tired in the last six months? Do I still feel this way now?
What did I do? / Or could I do now to help relieve my symptoms?
What could I do this week to improve my energy levels?
What is causing my fatigue, and how can I address it?
Have I been prioritizing self-care and rest, or have I been pushing myself too hard?
What changes can I make to my daily routine to improve my energy levels?
How can I build more moments of rest and relaxation into my day?
Have I talked to my healthcare provider about my fatigue, and if not, why?
Better Health Channel. (2021). Fatigue. Retrieved from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/fatigue
Verywell Mind. (2020). Maybe It's Not Depression. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/maybe-its-not-depression-2330495
BetterUp. (2021). The Causes and Consequences of Mental Exhaustion. Retrieved from https://www.betterup.com/blog/mental-exhaustion