Burnout and the Professional Caregiver

Professional caregivers, including nurses and social workers, often suffer burnout from becoming overly attached to client outcomes while neglecting their own needs. Taking responsibility for another’s well- being rather than simply providing them with the tools for self-healing is one of the most common causes of professional caregiver burnout.
Other causes of burnout include unrealistic goals – self or other imposed, unrealistic expectations, unreasonable rules, violation of personal values, boredom/lack of challenge, and feeling trapped due to financial concerns. Signs and symptoms include depression, anxiety, cynicism, self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, or food, detachment and isolation, frustration, exhaustion, sadness, and irritability.

What can be done? True collaboration with the client, rather than assuming responsibility for their well-being is necessary. Deep listening, genuine caring, authenticity, and providing education and feedback are effective skills that can facilitate your clients’ healing. Also, as the professional caregiver assumes increased responsibility for her/his own health and wellness through deliberate self-care activities, they become a role model for their clients, providing another tool for their self-healing.
Some of the benefits of self-care include the professional becoming more empathetic, authentic, and available to their clients, as their own needs are met. Self-care may include hobbies, vacations, journaling, exercise, meditation/prayer, pleasure reading, improved nutrition, therapy, and time spent in healing environments such as nature.
Burnout is one of many topics covered in an upcoming class “Holistic Care & Feeding of the Body, Mind, & Spirit” which provides 4 CEs for nurses and social workers. Professional caregivers will learn many self-care strategies including stress management that they can apply to their own lives and share with their clients. Registration is now being accepted for a workshop on August 12th at Thirwood Place in So. Yarmouth. For more info call Amanda at 508.862.6395 or register at www.wellnesspaths.com/ce-class.


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