8 simple ways nurses can build resilience and improve presence
Friday, December 01, 2017
Nurses are tasked with life-saving, life-giving and life-sucking opportunities.
All of our nursing actions take a toll on our energy levels — some give energy and some take it. It is entirely important for nurses (and for everyone) to incorporate replenishing and rejuvenating actions throughout the day to stay healthy for our patients, for ourselves and for our families.
Here are some tips to build your resiliency and improve your ability to be present, all while feeling alive and energized. I hope at least one of these ideas will resonate with you and help you to destress, re-energize and feel positive and present in your work.
1. Pin up a photo of a loved one at your computer
This will remind you of the love and adoration that awaits you when you get home. It also reminds you that the work you do has purpose.
2. Consider placing a vial of essential oil in your pocket
Pull it out and take a quick whiff on the go. Better yet, massage a drop to the back of your neck and/or temples or even the souls of your feet for some self-care.
A touch of peppermint and/or citrus will revitalize, and lavender and/or frankincense will help calm.
3. Show gratitude and appreciation for a colleague
Write a quick stickie-note of thanks for the work they do, or why you enjoy working with them. Then, stick it to their computer when they're not looking for a fun and uplifting surprise.
This is a win-win for both of you. Showing appreciation brings you more appreciation.
4. Be like a butterfly
Land on moments of gossip and negativity, but don't stay too long. Take off and fly to another conversation that is more positive. Spread your wings in positive directions.
5. Incorporate a healing ritual into your practice
Modern-day nurse theorist Barbara Dossey coined this term in her book "Rituals of Healing." Healing rituals are actions that help us restore and heal.
For example, hand washing. As you wash your hands, recall what you shared with your patient or colleague. Feel the friction on your hands, the warmth of the water, the slippery bubbles, the scent of the soap and the feeling in your heart. As you rinse away the bubbles, let all the emotions of the situation flow off your heart and hands into the sink bowl and down the drain.
6. Carry a favorite keepsake in your pocket
Perhaps it's a stone, a seashell, a piece of colorful yarn, your child's toy racecar, a feather or anything that reminds you of a positive event or person in your life.
Before going into a patient's room for a difficult conversation, reach into your pocket, hold it in your sensitive hands and allow memories to come to mind, so you become more present for the work ahead. Or, if you feel overwhelmed, take it out, feel it on the skin of your fingers and hands and let the positive recollections infuse into you while letting go of stress and overwork.
7. Create your own power pose
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy coined the term "power pose." She found that certain postures increase testosterone and decrease cortisol, making us feel powerful and victorious.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or irritated, step into the break or med room and adopt a power pose. Plant your feet firmly on the floor in a wide stance, then open your arms tall and big above your head, and lift your heart up and out (imagine Florence Nightingale as she hangs one of her lamps high above a patient, or Usain Bolt at the finish line).
Hold this position as you breathe in and out deeply. As you stand openly powerful, notice what happens to your emotions. Amy Cuddy suggests holding a power pose for two minutes to get the best results, but even a few breaths in a power pose will help redirect your emotion.
8. Use moments of skill to infuse hope into your patients
For example, hanging an IV antibiotic. Instead of just hanging a bag of medicine, consider what else you can infuse alongside that piggy-back.
While you hang the bag, breathe deeply and focus your intention on the healing properties of the drug and what it could mean to your patient. Combined with amoxicillin, perhaps it's hope and patience. Together with clindamycin, perhaps it's love and healing. Coupled with levofloxacin, perhaps it's energy and peace.
These tips will take practice because they are out of the normal patterns we've created for ourselves. It is your chance to be a beginner and try just one thing during your next shift. And share your intention with a colleague — especially if they find you in the breakroom practicing your power pose!
Sometimes we have little to no control over the things happening in our environment, but we always have control over our own personal actions. These tips will bring you resilience, control, peace and energy.
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