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Bring Back Joy in Caregiving

Ever since I was young, I always knew that I wanted to take care of people. So, I decided to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. Back in that day, I obtained my certification through high school and started working immediately. Becoming a CNA excited me, and I couldn’t wait to help people get better by taking care of them.

However, before long, I realized that being a professional caregiver wasn’t the profession that I thought it could and should be. I was feeling constantly stressed with not having enough time and the resources to finish everything that I needed to get done.  Not only in my professional life but, in my personal life.  That stress greatly affected my day-to-day mood which only stressed me more.

This should have come to no surprise.  According to the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants, only 28 percent remain CNAs after five years, and only 12.6 percent remain Certified Nursing Assistants after 10 years.

There came a point where I had to ask myself: How can I bring the joy back in caregiving?

Most of us rush through our daily jobs and lives and before we know it, we just get burnt out.  So, just how do we rediscover that joy, passion, and freedom and put it back into our caregiving practice?

Here are some simple steps I do in my life every day that I share in hopes that they may help you:

Take Timeouts
Taking time out for yourself I feel is the most important thing that we can do for our wellbeing.  During work you should be able to retreat to a quiet area where you won't be distracted by patients or others demanding your attention. When it’s your break, it’s your break, take it.  It’s there for a reason.  When you are scheduled for a day off, my advice is not to try to cram everything in that needs to be done in your personal life.  You need to devote time to yourself, doing what you like to do.  This means not spending your days running errands and doing for others.  Take a day every so often and make it just your day.  Start by making a list of the things that bring you joy.  On the day you devote to yourself start with what’s on your list. 

Take Care of Yourself
Simple things such as getting a full night's sleep, drinking plenty of water and eating as healthily as possible can help with your overall health.  When our bodies don’t get what it needs, we start to shut down.  This can make you feel like you don’t have the energy you need to function at your highest level.  It’s hard to feel joy taking care of others if you feel miserable all the time.  If you think you should be sharing a room with your client, being taken care of.  It’s time to make some changes.

Manage Stress Effectively
We have all heard the saying, don’t take your work home with you.  As a professional caregiver this is the one thing that I struggle with every day.  However, I have learned over the years that if something is stressing me out that I can’t change, I must let it be and move on.  Sometimes that’s easier said than done.  The things that I feel that stress me out that I do feel can change, I start working on a plan to change the what’s causing the stress.  We can choose to sit around complaining about issues at work or our professional life and do nothing about it or we can start advocating for ourselves and those we take care of.

Explore New Opportunities
Sometimes, when we feel that the joy of caregiving is gone, it is really feeling like you're stuck in a rut. You may feel that you have outgrown your position as a CNA. You may want to consider exploring advanced career and educational opportunities. There are so many opportunities for Certified Nursing Assistants out there. 

All these things will help lessen your stress and frustration to bring back the joy in Caregiving. Every day try and do something that brings you joy.