Burnout: getting through the shift

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    Hi, y'all. First time posting a new topic, and I hope you don't mind a little burnout vent. I'm having a hard time emotionally and I need someone to talk to. I think people here will understand.


    I've been a CNA for 8+ years, right out of high school. I work in a nursing home where I've been close to 3 years. I'm looking at short-term job training opportunities so I can leave.


    My problem is, I expect it could be a couple months (at least) until I can secure another job. And I'm at the point where it's hard to get through the shift.


    My company is fabulous, wonderful staff. I care deeply about my residents and I strain to have a positive attitude. I try to smile a lot and be friendly and attentive, willing to help out and be a team player. I try to be very flexible and willing to accommodate the needs of the facility.


    Being responsible for the health of all these people overwhelms me. I know they need quality care, but the stress of it all has gotten to me. Sometimes I "cope" by stuffing my face with junk food, which is unhealthy and immature. I've become distant from my few close relationships because of work.


    The thought of going to work fills me with anxiety and dread. It's embarrassing admitting this, but I cry over my job too. I'm angry and irritable on a frequent basis. It can be hard to enjoy days off because I'm anticipating my next shift. Mostly I just feel miserable either at work or thinking about work. This is not a new thing, this has been going on constantly for a few years. I feel selfish, immature, and guilty because I am not really the committed caregiver I have to pretend to be.


    The point of my post is this: how do YOU get through a hard shift, even if you may not feel burned out like I do? Are there deeper ways to cultivate a positive attitude? Is there a way I can learn to "fall in love" with the job so I don't have to feel so down all the time? I wasn't always this bad, especially not in my early years in my career.


    Oh, and by the way, I don't think I'm suffering from clinical depression. I get great joy from my family, my friends, exercise, and unfortunately from food (as I mentioned....) My job is what makes me feel awful.
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  3. 15 Comments so far...

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    Can you take a vacation? Whether or not you can, I've found that it helps to make the most of your time away from work. It's tempting to think, "I've been at work all day and I'm drained! I NEED and deserve to flop down on the couch in front of something mindless and stuff my face!" but in reality, that doesn't really recharge you. Mind you, I am saying this as a very introverted person who needs her alone time! It's very hard for me to fight the urge to tune out with sugary snacks and internet when I get home, and since you said that you've been eating a lot and distancing yourself from people, I'm guessing you shut yourself down too. My first instinct is to say "no thanks" whenever anyone asks me to do anything when I have to work the next morning, but usually if I force myself to go, I end up feeling good, probably because I did something notable that day besides work! Now, do I stay out drinking til 3am? Nooooo... but it doesn't take that much to get together with a friend or even just your boyfriend for a drink, a movie, a bike ride or whatever, and still be home at a reasonable hour. It's better than zoning out until all of a sudden, it's bedtime.

    That was a really long way of saying "try to make your time off meaningful, so that your entire life isn't just about work."

    I also turn to humor to get through the day. When I'm working with coworkers who are relaxed and know how to laugh, my day goes by so much more quickly and pleasantly. And I avoid talking about work stuff on breaks. Sometimes this means finding a place to eat alone because some people will not stop complaining about the job.
    mindyfromcali likes this.
  5. 0
    I get burned out from my job, too, but I have a few ways of destressing which may be able to help:

    On my last day or on days that I come home sore from head to toe, I take a nice hot bath to loosen up all my muscles and then sleep like a baby. It's a nice recharge.

    I have a little hot pack that I got at a drugstore. It's made of clay and microwaves and stays hot for over an hour. That's a good replacement for a bath. (not the cleaning part, but for loosening up muscles)

    Drinking hot herbal tea also helps.

    Having a good friend, one who may have also been in healthcare before or works a similar stressful job so you can be eachother's sounding boards.

    For me , I just have to take a deep breath and take pride in knowing I did the best I could to do right by my patients and give them proper care they deserve. Once the shift is over, I leave it behind me and try not to let it rent space in my head. I hope you can cope or find something that is a better fit. Big hugs, good luck <3
    Last edit by mindyfromcali on Sep 3, '12 : Reason: editing :P
  6. 0
    A nice sweaty workout keeps me from tanking when I get home from work too.
  7. 0
    Great tips, fuzzywuzzy and mindyfromcali, thank you!
  8. 0
    Burn out is horrible. I left my permanent job and went PRN. Then I could work when I wanted to, and switch around my work environments as I needed to.
    Last edit by JDZ344 on May 16, '14
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    At present I am feeling the same way! I am trying to find out what is stressing me here are two things-

    1. Being responsible for the health and safety of so many (what you had said, I feel the same).
    2. Continual thought I missed doing something.

    At present I have been searching for things to say to myself on the way home to wind myself down so I can sleep (I work eves and get up for school pretty early so try to sleep quick, doesn't always work though).

    Have you found any ways to unwind lately that have worked?
  10. 1
    Quote from KatieP86
    For me, it's not so much what I do when I get home but how the heck do I manage a 12 hour shift when I just want to scream and break stuff when people ask me the littlest things? I honestly have no idea. What *I* need is a long vacation from work.
    I felt like that today. It's bad enough that the residents are hounding me; I don't need people from recreation and therapy coming up to me and telling me that So-and-So needs something... I KNOWWWW! I've been made aware of that 7 times! Everybody "needs" something and obviously I am too busy to do it immediately!

    And I hate how all the other staff acts so helpless about everything and dumps it all on the CNAs. If someone spills juice on the floor, god forbid the housekeeper towel it up herself before she runs her mop over it- a CNA will get that. Therapy can't get off their lazy butts and get their patient in a wheelchair- you hear them telling the patient to put their call light on for one of "the girls" to do it. A resident wants a tissue and recreation follows you in the hallway nagging you about it. Etc etc. Or they catch you flying down the hallway and stop to sloooooowly ask a stupid question- spit it out! Everything gets dumped on us. When someone doesn't feel like doing their job completely, they just shove it our way, like we have nothing else to do. I'm sorry, when did a "nursing assistant" become "housekeeping assistant" "recreation assistant" and "dietary aide assistant?" The thing that really gets me is when therapy aides boss you around and talk to you like you're beneath them. We have the same title, but a different department. You are not my freaking boss, drop the attitude!
    mindyfromcali likes this.
  11. 1
    Oh my God, are we the same person? You sound just like me! I have panic attacks the day before I have to go to work and I cry about work on the days I'm off, and I'm a genuinely happy person.

    I've found that I need to let work be work, and that's it. You go in punch the clock, do your job as best you can, know you have limitations and when you punch out just forget it all. Somebody else will come in on the next shift and take over what I left, if I couldn't get work done, well I'm sorry but I did the best I could.

    If you're already in the process of getting retrained for a new field, then half the battle is won. Think of it as a paycheck on the hard days. Nothing is worth your sanity.
    JDZ344 likes this.
  12. 0
    Can you talk about this with your supervisor? There may be advice they can offer, or changes. You seem like such an asset to LTC, I would hope you are valued enough to be counseled by an appreciative supervisor.

    Good luck and keep searching for the best options for you.


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