By Rich Bluni, RN
Across the U.S. and world over, coronavirus infection rates are surging, with no end in sight. If you’re a nurse, you may feel like you’re sinking. Sure, you soldier on, working long shifts, comforting desperately ill patients, grieving losses, and protecting yourself as best you can. But all the PPE in the world can’t protect a nurse’s spirit.
It’s that sense of purpose and meaning, of calling, that keeps nurses going in incredibly traumatic times. If they lose touch with that, they can quickly find themselves in deep trouble.
There are no easy solutions to what nurses are facing right now. But reconnecting to the sense of mission that has always driven nurses on a heart-and-soul level can give them the strength to keep going.
That doesn’t “just happen” even in good times; it’s a choice we must make every day. If we don’t, we will quickly get overwhelmed by pain, fear, and negativity.
Write down your gratitude… Even in a pandemic, there are things to be grateful for. Maybe a patient you thought was going to die actually recovered. Maybe a coworker paid for your lunch. Maybe the cafeteria had that carrot cake you love. Charting moments of gratitude (however big or small) helps you remember why you chose this deeply meaningful line of work.
…then, share it with others. Chances are, some of the “things” you find yourself writing on your gratitude list are actually people. Maybe it’s the coworker who always jumps in to help, the unit secretary who runs your labs for you when you’re swamped, or the food service employee who always remembers your lunch order.
Extend your gratitude to someone every day!
Make a self-care plan. Get out a journal and write the following labels on five separate pages: Mind, Body, Spirit, Love, and Prosperity. Under each title, come up with just two things that you can do every day that would impact that part of your being. In the “Body” category, you may write, “walk a mile,” “eat more green veggies,” and “drink eight glasses of water.” It may feel strange to focus on improving your life when the world seems to be falling apart, but now is when we need to be at our best.
Get intentional about who you spend time with. Who do you chat with on breaks during your shift? Who do you vent to when times are tough? Often, we don’t make these decisions consciously. The problem is, we might be hanging out with psychic vampires who drain our life force and break us down with their negativity.
Your two most valuable resources are your love and your time. The company you keep has a big impact on your attitude and well-being.
Stop blaming yourself for others’ difficult behavior. All nurses have plenty of experience dealing with the occasional patient or family member who is grouchy, demanding, or even downright mean. Too often we may take their difficult behavior personally.
Realize that you don’t rent your life. You own it. Do you let bad situations and other people’s negativity dictate how you feel about your work life? If you do, then you’re renting.
It’s when times are toughest that we learn the most valuable lessons and experience the biggest leaps in our personal growth. If there’s one thing that has been made abundantly clear throughout all of this, it’s that nurses are the most resilient, compassionate, and inspiring people on this earth…. That’s one bright spot we can be grateful for.
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About the Author:
Rich Bluni, RN, is the author of the best-selling books Inspired Nurse, Oh No…Not More of That Fluffy Stuff!, and Inspired Nurse Too. He has an active and popular Facebook page called Inspired Nurse.
Rich has been an RN since 1993. He has worked as a nurse in Adolescent Oncology, Pediatric ICU, and Trauma ICU departments as well as serving as a pediatric flight and transport nurse. He has served as an ED nursing manager as well as a senior director of risk management, quality, and patient safety.
He came to Studer Group in 2007 as a coach working with dozens of healthcare organizations and leaders to drive outstanding results. He is presently a senior director with Huron and a Studer Group national speaker, having traveled across North America to speak in front of hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers and leaders in hundreds of healthcare organizations, large healthcare conferences, as well as virtual webinars.