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Stress at Work? Some Tips to Get Ahead of It.

Your boss just asked you to cover a shift at the weekend that she was supposed to cover.  You’re flattered, but this is just the latest in a series of last-minutes covers you’ve been asked.  You dread the thought of another late night but know it’s the only way you’ll be able to get ahead. While everyone has busy days, maintaining a breakneck pace can quickly lead to burnout, or psychological exhaustion brought on by prolonged periods of work-related stress.  Before you know it your morale, productivity and quality of work could suffer. 
Here are some tips to help combat burnout:

Talk to your manager.
Let your manager know when you have too much on your plate.  He or she will be just as concerned about preventing burnout as you and can probably help you delegate responsibilities or free additional resources to help lighten your load.

Keep priorities in mind.
Be sure that whatever you work on is strategically linked to your short- and long-term goals, focusing first on those objectives that are most pressing.  For example, although you can’t change the fact that you must work a double shift in the next couple of days, you can possibly get a longer stretch off in the future.

Take a break.
Even if you’re working long hours, it pays to take occasional breaks throughout the day.  Go for short walks around the hospital or try to take your meal outside.  Just a few minutes of “down time” each hour can help you recharge and work more productively.

Recognise your achievements.
Set measurable goals for each of your shifts.  Reward yourself every time you reach a goal with small treats such as taking time out to have do something fun with colleagues – it will help you keep yourself motivated.

Try to achieve work/life balance.
Try to balance both your professional and personal lives – make time for friends and family and try not to take work home every night.

Ask for help.
Often, the help you need is available simply by asking for it.  Talking with a mentor can help you to develop new strategies for dealing with stress- a fresh pair of eyes can often provide a new perspective.

While it may be impossible to eliminate all workplace stress, it’s important to recognise signs of burnout.  It can negatively affect not only your overall job performance, but also your personal life.  By taking measures to reduce the amount of stress you face, you’ll be happier and more productive at the work.

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy with a global network of more than 350 offices throughout North America, South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.  For more information about our Robert Half please visit

3 comments… add one
  • Why as nurses and adults do we have to put up with rudness and bullying from senior staff memebers. On nights recently having a patient already, another patient came from theatre to recovery. I had just started my night the sister was handing over to my colleague and she didn ask but told me in an abrupt manner to take the patient that had just arrived in recovery, despite the fact that I had a patient. For a caring service as nurses we treat each other abominally.

  • I second the above statement.I was bullied at work & unable to report it as the person was my line manager & would have made life even more unbarable.Instead,I left my job.There are many like me for whom ‘whistle blowing’ was not an a option.

  • I’ve been 26 years in midwifery and can understand your feelings. having done nights for over 15 years I know all about having to take on extra duties when the sister wanted to have her own break which might go on for longer than you can take,or you might not get a break as the unit hots up, I tried to do a rethink that this is just sister’s way of giving me experience and increased stamina! but I ended up very ill with depression then diabetes, hypertension, glaucoma, carpel tunnel ops, and other minor conditions. I always felt not good enough. My confidence failed me again and again, but I tried to never let my mums down.


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