Have you been feeling tired, unmotivated, cynical, or fatigued while at work lately? You may be experiencing burnout.
Burnout is a common syndrome that typically results from workplace stress and is often exacerbated by issues in other areas of a person’s life. While it can happen to anyone, it’s fairly common among care workers. Many caregivers have high mental, physical, and emotional demands and don’t always get the help they need.
Fortunately, there are actions you can take to reduce or completely prevent burnout symptoms so you can live a healthier, happier life.
Are You Experiencing Burnout As a Care Worker?
Burnout doesn’t look the same in everyone, so it’s not always easy to identify. It often takes on a similar appearance to depression and other mental health challenges. Here are a few symptoms you may experience:
- Dreading going to work
- Struggling to be productive
- Lack of satisfaction with your achievements
- Fatigue or reduced energy
- Feeling underappreciated and/or overworked
- General disillusionment about your job
- Changing sleep habits
- Unexplained physical complaints such as headaches or stomach problems
- Irritability around coworkers, patients, and other people you see at work
If you have been feeling a lot of stress while caregiving and any of these symptoms are showing up in your life, burnout may be the cause. You may be able to turn those symptoms around with a few changes in your work or personal life.
How to Prevent or Reduce Burnout As a Caregiver or Care Worker
Build Strong Relationships at Work and at Home
Everyone needs someone they can talk to when they are struggling with stress and other pressures — sometimes for advice, but often just for emotional support. While family members and friends can help, care workers often need someone to turn to for support at work as well.
For people in caregiving roles, a little emotional support often goes a long way toward battling persistent or strong negative emotions and stress. Solid relationships are one of the best ways to reduce burnout.
Set Boundaries Between Your Job and Your Personal Life
Caregiving often comes with intense feelings and grievances, especially when the person you are caring for is not as cooperative as you would like or when medical challenges arise. It’s easy for negative emotions to continue after the care shift ends if you are not careful to set boundaries.
Many care workers find it helpful to set aside thoughts and feelings about work after the workday ends. While separating work and personal life can be challenging, with practice, it becomes easier to stay in the moment while enjoying hobbies and time with loved ones. You can enjoy your personal life more and more fully refresh yourself after a difficult day at work.
Practicing Mindfulness Reduces Burnout
Mindfulness is the act of staying focused on the present moment, often by focusing on your breathing or physical sensations while avoiding interpretations and judgments. Research shows that mindfulness can help reduce stress, reduce rumination, improve attention and working memory, increase focus, and reduce emotional reactivity, among other benefits.
People in many cultures and religions throughout history have practiced one form of mindfulness or another for various reasons. In modern day America, non-religious mindfulness has become popular among people with just about every belief system because of its mental health benefits.
There are many mindfulness activities you can do at home that have mental health benefits, which may help reduce burnout. You can also practice mindfulness at work by intentionally facing difficult situations with patience, openness, and non-judgment — an approach that could help you avoid burnout symptoms.
Lack of Sleep Could Lead to Burnout
Many care workers struggle to get enough sleep. Unfortunately, lack of sleep reduces mood, motivation, alertness, concentration, and stamina at work, exacerbating burnout symptoms. Care workers need to take special care to get enough rest to avoid burning out.
Most people need about eight hours of sleep each day or night. While caregiving schedules may require frequently adjusting your sleep schedule, it’s still a good idea to try to fit in at least eight hours of sleep at a time.
Regular exercise goes a long way toward promoting mental health. It doesn’t have to be super intense — a 30-minute walk can do quite a bit to help you feel better.
Exercising not only gives you a mental break from the work at hand, but also helps your body produce endorphins that make you feel happier, less stressed, and more refreshed.
Need more help with battling caregiver burnout? We encourage you to reach out to our HR department. We are always working to improve employee wellbeing at Sunrise and may be able to find resources to help with the problems you face.