Sometimes it’s easy to recognize the signs that you need to talk to someone about how you’re doing. But it can also become routine to ignore the effects of stress and trauma as you continuously care for patients, fill extra shifts and manage all the usual stressors day after day.
It’s essential to practice self-care and check in with yourself regularly. Be aware of how you’re feeling, especially after difficult shifts. Don’t let symptoms of trauma or stress reach a dangerous level.
Reach out for support if you are experiencing any of these warning signs.
Feeling irritable or angry. You have a lack of patience for things that never used to bother you. You feel irritated or even angry a lot more often than usual.
Feeling anxious, depressed, lonely or constantly sad. You feel happy much less frequently. The bad days seem to far outweigh the good days.
Reliving traumatic events. You want nothing more than to forget the distressing things you’ve experienced, or the losses and suffering you’ve seen, but those memories keep reappearing, often unexpectedly.
Isolating yourself and lack of trust in others. You feel alone, yet you also prefer to be alone. You don’t want to talk or socialize, or maybe you’ve lost interest in activities you used to enjoy. You may question whether anyone cares, including your leadership at work or even people who are close to you.
Experiencing compassion fatigue, burnout or moral injury. You find it difficult to empathize with others and are bothered by decisions and situations that feel wrong. The cost of caring feels like it’s stretched you thin, making it feel like a struggle just to get through each shift.
Struggling to sleep or oversleeping. You have trouble sleeping due to shiftwork and a lack of recovery time. You never seem to feel rested. Or you feel like sleeping far more than usual.
New or increased substance use. You, and perhaps others, have noticed an increase in how much you’re drinking or using other substances.
You may also be experiencing physical issues that impact you in unexpected ways.
This could include:
- Digestive and/or appetite problems
- Increased aches and pain
- Sexual and/or reproductive issues
- Executive function and memory problems
Cumulative stress and trauma can create a range of emotions and responses, and it may seem overwhelming at times. These feelings and experiences are normal, but they can take a significant toll on your mental and physical well-being. It doesn’t mean that you are destined to have a long-term mental health condition because you’re experiencing any of these signs, but addressing them is vital to ensuring lifelong health and wellness.
In addition to the peer support resources and confidential professional support resources you can find on this site, you can also call the NAMI HelpLine – a free, nationwide peer-support service providing information, resource referrals and support to people living with a mental health condition, their family members and caregivers, mental health providers and the public. The NAMI HelpLine is available Monday through Friday between 10 am and 10 pm ET at 800-950-6264.
Remember: If you are in crisis, there are resources you can turn to.
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline offers free, confidential crisis counseling 24/7/365 — and you don’t have to be in crisis to call or text.
The Crisis Text Line also offers free 24/7 mental health support. Text “SCRUBS” to 741741 for help.