Caretaker Fatigue: What Is The Root Cause?

burnout career resources interviews mentorship mindset np student podcast Jan 23, 2024
An image of two women smiling with a text Tired Of Being A Caretaker

When I started Real World NP, I had a vision of making videos and podcast episodes that NPs could watch and listen to to help their lives be easier. There’s so much to learn in such a short time -- why not share bite-sized, easy to understand episodes about things like hyponatremia and diagnosing abdominal pain?

I realized over the years, though, that a huge reason why NPs are burning out before they finally feel competent (around 3 years in), isn’t just because of the clinical knowledge gaps. And burnout isn’t just because there’s too much work being given to us and not enough time to do it. Having burnt out more than once, I’ve taken some hard looks at what I’m doing and how I may be participating in getting to this place.

Today, I’m interviewing Cat Wood, a dear friend and Executive Coach who is on the short list of people who have changed my life. It’s such a joy to be able to share her wisdom with you. We’re doing some “real talk” about some of the not-so-pretty contributors to burnout in caregivers: “caretaking,” boundaries, and codependency, and how we neglect our own needs as empaths.

We get vulnerable as we both talk about recognizing how sometimes we take care of other people to feel good about ourselves and ways to shift this behavior pattern. We also talk about a suuuper common pitfall for empathic NPs— we take care of other people because we feel capable and ambitious, but forget to check in with ourselves.

Just because we can do something doesn’t mean that we should do it. The truth is, we can only take care of others to the degree that we take care of ourselves.

If you’re like me and sooo many other NPs who are used to stepping over our needs, it’s normal to feel like you don’t know what your needs and desires are. But in this episode, we give you a practical framework to start developing your authentic voice and boundaries with yourself and others. This is part of the work Cat and I have done together that hands down, has changed my life. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did!

We cover:

  • What “caretaking” is, how it manifests itself in relationships, and why you can’t fill someone else’s cup before you fill your own
  • Learning how to protect and hold sacred your gifts as an empathic person so you don’t end up using them against yourself
  • Why you should recognize your caretaking and codependency traits and stop always jumping in to be a hero
  • Normalizing that you may not know what your needs and desires are (yet!) after neglecting them for a long time
  • How to start enforcing your needs and boundaries in your relationships with yourself and others and start feeling well-resourced and cherished

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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