Do Introverted Nurses Experience More Burnout? How to Fight Burnout as an Introverted Nurse

Introverted people often feel drained by social interactions. If you're an introverted nurse, here's what you can do to prevent this stress from turning into burnout and what to do if it already has. Nurses General Nursing Article


Do Introverted Nurses Experience More Burnout? How to Fight Burnout as an Introverted Nurse

You're a nurse. It’s your job to spend all day talking to patients, asking them very personal questions that you’d rather not have to ask, and handling their feelings of worry, confusion, and anger. You have your own feelings to manage, plus all the pressure to get your tasks and charting done in an insanely short amount of time. It’s a lot to deal with—especially if you’re an introvert. 

As an introverted nurse myself, I started to recognize signs of burnout very early in my career and a lot earlier than I would have expected. Was my personality just incompatible with being a nurse? Was my entire college education a complete waste of time, energy, and money? With these questions in mind, I went on a personal journey to find out what I could do to combat these intrusive feelings I was experiencing because I knew that deep down, I really did like the nursing profession. I didn’t want to quit my job, but at the same time, I knew that I couldn’t deal with the pressure much longer. Something needed to change, and I figured the easiest thing to change would be me. 

The Facts

So do people who identify as introverts really experience more burnout? One study published in An International Journal of Work, Health & Organizations in 2009 concluded that “employee personality is consistently related to burnout” and recommended that “personality variables be included as predictors in future research on burnout.” Then in 2010, The Journal of Social Psychology published a study of 80 volunteer counselors, all of which cared for terminally ill patients. The results of that study suggested that symptoms of burnout were tied to certain personality factors but also suggested that personality could be used as a weapon in fighting back against the known risks of experiencing burnout while working in human services. Finally, another study done in China in 2018, published in BMC Health Services Research, found that while stress was the greatest factor in burnout in the workplace for nurses, personality type—specifically introversion—was the second greatest factor. 

Introversion is a Strength

So does all this mean that nursing isn’t a good career for introverted people? Not necessarily! The community of nurses should represent the populations of the patients they serve, of which introverts are a part. You can learn to harness your introversion as a tool to better serve your patients. Consider all your strengths as an introvert:

  • Your ability to listen more than you speak
  • Your ability to pick up on small nuances and use your intuition to help inform your decisions
  • Your ability to use self-evaluation as a way to learn and grow into a better nurse and version of yourself

 With all those strengths in mind, let’s dive into some ways to identify burnout and some tips on how to fight it as an introverted nurse so you can keep yourself—and your patients—happy and healthy!

Signs to Look for

First off, how do you even know you’re getting burned out? After all, feeling exhausted and stressed is normal from time to time regardless of career or stage in life. However, symptoms of burnout are more severe and often last for a longer period of time. You may recognize any or all of the following:

  • Experiencing an increased sense of stress and frustration at work
  • Feeling both physically and emotionally drained and lacking in compassion
  • Having a hard time focusing and approaching tasks with negativity 
  • Feeling disillusioned and dissatisfied with your job where you once felt fulfilled
  • Experiencing unexplained physical symptoms like headaches, GI upset, or GI pain 

If this sounds like you, you may be wondering, “What can I do about it?” Thankfully, burnout is only a temporary condition and can be cured! While some situations may only be treated by a change on the employer’s part, there are many things in your lotus of control that you can try first.

Recovering from Burnout

I just wanted to preface this section by stating that fixing burnout is not always as easy as following and applying a list of tips and tricks. Also, struggling with burnout may feel more intense as an introvert because you’re more acutely aware of your feelings. It may be hard for you to follow the typical advice you may find for avoiding burnout, such as seeking out interpersonal connections. I mean, come on! We deal with enough people at work! Hanging out with even more people after work is usually not an introvert’s idea of a fun time. You need to focus on what feels right for you, on what you really want. Be patient with yourself if you don't get the results you want right away. Your burnout didn’t happen overnight and neither will your recovery. With that said, here are some simple ways to focus on you so you can get back to feeling like the amazing nurse you are:

1- Prioritize sleep

At least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep is recommended for adults. Don’t skimp on this or you know the consequences—your cortisol levels will rise and bring with them a whole host of problems you don’t want: memory impairment, high blood pressure, high blood glucose, weight gain… You know you learned this in nursing school. Practice what you preach!

2- Utilize your support system—whatever that looks like

Reach out to your mom, your best friend, your partner, and even your dog! It helps when you have someone to listen to your work rants and support you with your dreams for the future. Social media groups can also be beneficial when they’re big on shared interests and light on social interaction.

3- Take time alone

This may be the single most important thing for introverts. Interacting with others is emotionally draining to us. To cope, try to find a time and place at least once in your workday (or night) where you can be by yourself and unwind. Maybe you could coordinate your break time where you’ll have the break room to yourself, or you could bring headphones to tune out everything else during lunch. When you go home, do this again! Listen to music or watch your favorite TV show. Schedule some time to yourself free of distractions, screaming children, and the like. 

4- Have a hobby

Find something that you really love doing and don’t let anything else ruin it! It’s just as important as everything else on your busy schedule. It could be what you do during your alone time or it could be an interest you share with your friends. Go for a jog, read a book, join a small group, or take a class (if you’re into that sort of thing because, eww, people). 

5- Give yourself a pep talk

Introverts are often their own worst critics. Silence the little voice in your head by practicing positive self-talk. You can recite affirmations before your shift and take mindful moments to stop and deep breathe throughout your shift. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! You can also try keeping a gratitude journal to help you focus on all the positive aspects of your life.

6- Work less

This might feel painfully obvious yet laughably undoable, but if it’s a possibility for you and everything else has failed, it might just be the solution you need to solve your case of burnout. Maybe you’ve been working overtime for weeks or months on end, but it’s just not sustainable. The money may be good but at what cost? Maybe you have the option to step down from full-time and work PRN. It doesn’t have to be permanent—just enough to give you a well-deserved breather. Maybe you want to change specialties or even careers. If that’s what you realize on your self-care journey, then it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You deserve to be happy doing what you love, and the years you spent in your former position were not a waste. They helped to form you into the person you are today, and you helped many others along the way.

When to Seek Help

Burnout can manifest in many different ways for different people, but it is temporary and mostly work-related. However, in some cases, burnout may develop into depression. If you are having feelings of low self-esteem and hopelessness that permeate all areas of your life, do not delay seeking psychological treatment. Many employers even include coverage for counseling in your benefits package. 


If you’re feeling burned-out today, know that the feeling will not last forever and that there is hope. Use these interventions you’ve learned about today to create a self-care plan: a plan of care for the most important patient right now—you! I'm applying these tips in my own life, and they are helping! Being introverted is not a weakness in nursing; it can be your greatest strength when you know how to take care of yourself first and effectively manage your work-life balance.


Beating Burnout

General self-efficacy modifies the effect of stress on burnout in nurses with different personality types

Job burnout: How to spot it and take action

Nurse Burnout: How to Manage or Avoid It Altogether

Introverts Have Hidden Superpowers as Healthcare Providers

The Relationship Between the Big Five Personality Factors and Burnout: A Study Among Volunteer Counselors

Relationships between personality variables and burnout: A meta-analysis

Tips for the introverted nurse

What is burnout?

10 Things to Hate About Sleep Loss

April Conner, BSN, RN is currently working as a dialysis nurse and has had a life-long passion for education. She loves teaching both patients and colleagues alike what she has learned by writing pieces on various healthcare topics.

2 Articles   4 Posts

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507 Posts

😄 Yup, that’s me today. 

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,493 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

I would consider myself an introvert and a loner.  That doesn't mean I'm too shy to interact with people.  At work I do enjoy the 1 on 1 bedside nursing and have stayed at the bedside with no desire to move beyond that into management.  I thought I might teach and get my MSN but the thought of teaching in front of a group intimidated me.

I've also came close to burnout and you offer good advice.  I don't know if introverts burnout quicker, but I do notice I tend to take more stress and internalize it more than my extroverted coworkers that are able to wear it on their sleeve and vent, and don't take as much crap as I tend to.  


Specializes in orthopedic/trauma, Informatics, diabetes.

I feel like being an introvert is an asset!  I know that when I go home, I can be by myself and recharge. I don't feel the need to go out or be entertained, do the entertaining, etc. 

I can turn on my "nursing" personality and I really love being a nurse, but then am able to turn it off, leave work at work and go home to family- we are all introverts LOL and my doggies, who really help me re-center. 

I am also on the spectrum, so I struggle more with colleagues than I do patients. That can be a struggle. 

Lola Ravid, BSN, RN

1 Article; 7 Posts

Specializes in Pediatrics, Research and Freelance Writing.


Hi April, 

I just read your article. Great Insights! I just did an article that may go hand-in-hand with your theme. Check it out. I would love your feedback.

Hope to connect, 

Lola Ravid 


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