As I spent some time watching my son play his video game today, instead of enjoying the precious time that we would never get back I found myself thinking that I have four more days of work this week. That’s four more days of waking up to darkness and air so cold you feel it in your bones. Four more days of ending the shift with aches in my muscles and my brain so tired I can’t think straight.

Tuning In to the Stress

I have never felt like this about work. I mean, yes, all of what I just wrote is true, but I love my work! I love being a CNA! I typically focus on the funny things my residents do that make me laugh, or new activities we can try. I have always looked forward to going into work to see my residents.

Is this burnout? Could this feeling be more than a bad day? I don’t think so. After years in this profession, I would be able to recognize and prevent burnout, wouldn’t I? Honestly, I don’t know. A coworker asked me if I was alright at lunch last week. She said I looked tired. I felt fine. This made me think that other people are noticing something.

Remembering My Passion

So, as I’m writing this, I wonder where I would work If I did change professions because of “CNA burnout.” The truth is that I can’t leave healthcare. I can’t be anything other than a CNA. Correction: I could be anything I put my mind to but I don’t want to. My heart is a CNA. I was born to give love, compassion, and care to the elderly.

I especially have a calling for dementia care. Yet, at times I still get an unknown feeling that is so overwhelming I can hardly breathe. Is this stress, anxiety, and unnecessary guilt worth my health? No, it’s not. The truth is that I’m glad I’ve had all the education to recognize burnout so I realized what I need to do: I am not going to walk away from what I love without doing what I can to fix this.

I have to find a way to take care of myself too.

Taking Care of Myself

I’ve let it go for too long, and now it has led me to this point. The first way I will start to care for myself is to incorporate my support system when I need it. The best part of being at one facility for so long is the relationships that I have built with many of my co-workers. When I’m at work and I get overwhelmed, I need to stop and reach out to one of them. I know they are more than willing to listen or give advice.

Now, one thing I will start doing every day is exercising. I’m not going to lie to you, this one may not happen. I will try though! Exercising makes you healthy and gives you energy.

Embracing Alone Time

One of the most important ways I plan on facing burnout head on is to make alone time. This will be the hardest because of work and family and everything else in life. Alone time will help me think about my life and why I love what I love.

If I can’t be happy around me, I don’t believe I can be happy around others. I am a CNA that got burned out after becoming physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.

Now I’m going to start caring for myself so I can care for my residents.