How to Avoid Burnout as a CNA

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Certified nursing assistants are the workhorses of the healthcare team. The work is physically demanding and emotionally draining. Low on the team totem pole, they often get too little respect from supervisors and administrators.

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Burnout is the result, leading to resentful CNAs and high turnover rates. But there are ways to protect yourself. Here is a look at effective methods to avoid burnout.

Take Care of Your Health

The first step is to keep yourself in the best possible physical shape. When your body is rundown, you are more vulnerable emotionally. In such a demanding job, that increases the risk of burnout exponentially.

Contrary to popular ideas, it doesn’t take a lot of money and time to stay in shape. Here are the basics that every CNA needs in her life:

Regular exercise: this needs to include strength, cardio and flexibility training. You don’t have to join an expensive gym. Instead, walk more and take the stairs. Dust off your bike for weekend rides. Or bike to work. Go swimming at the community pool.

Use inexpensive resistance bands and a DVD from the library for your strength training routine. If you do them at least three days a week, it takes just 20 to 30 minutes for a full body workout.

Follow yoga workouts on Netflix or YouTube. For variety, try tai chi, pilates and stretching workouts.

Eat clean: try to avoid junk food and processed foods. Instead, splurge on fruits, vegetables and low fat sources of protein. Get a book on balanced nutrition and cooking from the library.

Relax: stress comes with the territory when you work as a CNA. You need to figure out how to achieve a balance in the time you devote to work, family and yourself. Get a hobby. Take regular walks, even short ones, outdoors. Socialize with positive friends. Take time for yourself.

Set goals: you need to feel that you have power in your life if you want to stay emotionally centered. One way to do that is by setting career goals for yourself. Do you want to become an LPN or RN? Investigate programs available and how to finance it. Or look into ways to specialize as a CNA, a move that leads to better pay.

Learn to Handle Stress

According to Scrubs Magazine, working as a CAN can be frustrating. Resentment is common, due to crabby patients, disrespectful nurses, low pay and unpleasant tasks.

You need to plan for it and learn to dissipate negative emotions early before they lead to major attitude problems. There are a variety of methods of handling this stress, including:

  • Learn to say no to unreasonable requests, both on and off the job.
  • Don’t take your work home with you. Learn to shift emotionally from work to home, and vice versa.
  • Try meditation.
  • Take a yoga class.
  • Schedule regular time with friends for casual socializing.

If you still feel frustration and anger festering, remember why you chose to become a CNA. You wanted to help people, to make a difference in the world, to bring comfort and compassion to those who are suffering. Even on the worst days, you can still stay true to your ideals. Remembering this will reduce stress and help you find your emotional center.

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