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Nurses Strike: Expert Reveals the Signs of Burnout in Healthcare Professionals

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This week, NHS nurses across the UK have taken part in strike action for the first time in history as a result of low pay, which is driving major understaffing and burnout across the healthcare sector. 

In fact, a recent survey revealed that two in five (40%) nurses and midwives in the UK said they often or always felt burnout due to work, while over half (53%) said they felt unwell due to work-related stress. 

With this in mind, Professor Sir Cary Cooper, Advisory Board Member at Delamere has revealed what exactly burnout is, and the signs of burnout to look for in healthcare professionals if you’re worried about a loved one this festive season.

What is burnout and what are the key signs to look out for?

Burnout is when an individual physically and psychologically cannot do their job anymore, this could be due to heavy work pressures, long hours or workloads, and is often recognised in three signs; feeling exhausted, negative feelings about your job role and reduced effectiveness.

The key component to preventing burnout is identifying the symptoms as early as possible before the demand becomes too much, leading to depression.

Feeling exhausted

Employees on the verge of burnout, due to either stress or increased workload, can begin to experience and display emotional and physical signs of exhaustion. 

People begin to feel a lack of physical energy, but they also develop feelings of being emotionally drained and depleted. A common sign of exhaustion is the lack of motivation to get out of bed in the morning, or day-to-day work life becomes more challenging than normal. 

Over-exhaustion and extreme tiredness can result in sickness among employees. The shortage of energy from burnout can lead to decreased immunity to common colds or flu.  

Feeling sensitive and irritable

Aggressive behaviour is also a common indicator, this could be both within the workplace and outside of work hours. Irritable employees may experience a level of sensitivity and aggression towards their family, friends and colleagues. 

While everybody experiences some negative emotions within their job roles, it’s vital to recognise when these feelings are becoming unusual. 

Feeling unmotivated

Employees may begin to feel more socially withdrawn and find themselves disconnecting within the workplace. This could be recognised as not getting involved with colleague discussions, having a negative attitude towards work and slipping job performance. 

Changes to work motivation can lead to employees having additional days off or turning in work late. This is something employers should look out for before it becomes untenable. 

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