Happy Nurses Week!!! The reason we take a week each year to honor nurses is because of the deep commitment and sacrifice made for our profession. We work long, often stressful hours. We miss out on holidays and weekends with our families while in the service of another. We witness life and death. We are sometimes targets for verbal abuse from patients, their families, doctors, and/or our coworkers. We deserve a week of recognition.
Nurses Week dates back as far as 1953. It is now celebrated every year from May 6 to May 12, ending in honor of Florence Nightengale’s birthday. International Nurse’s Day is celebrated on May 12. What better way to celebrate this week than with some suggestions on staying balanced in nursing?
Nurses can fall into the, “Caution, unbalances easily” camp. We are caretakers by nature. We often take on more than we can/should handle both professionally and personally. It is easy to become unbalanced and stressed in our profession. We can work as many hours as we want because of the shortage of nurses. We never know what kind of situation we are walking into at work. We take on more responsibility than sometimes humanly possible. Here are just a few tips for enjoying longevity in nursing.
Find Your Place
Some find their place right out of nursing school. They have a family, want to stay close to home, and have a clear plan to move up the ranks in their hospital. Some nurses are born to travel. While my home hospital remains forever close to my heart and I will always consider it home, I knew I wanted to travel. I have found my place in several units along the way.
Find Your Specialty
The beauty of nursing is that if you tire, get bored, or burn out of one area, there are endless possibilities for a change of venue. We are so lucky in this regard. We can specialize in Pediatrics, Geriatrics, Cardiology, Oncology- you name it. How often does a profession offer so many choices?
Find Your Tribe
It’s important to realize that we will not gel with everyone we meet. This is especially true in the workplace. It’s an important lesson in life. The thing is, focus less on the people you don’t connect with and more on those you do. They will lift you up, make working that extra shift bearable, and will become some of your dearest friends.
Take a Time Out
That moment when you feel a heavy weight or burden from working too much or have had one too many confrontations with that difficult coworker is the perfect time to plan a time out. Schedule yourself a week off or few days off between shifts and plan something fun and exciting. Get away. Take a mini vacation. Turn your nurse brain off. Go in standby and recharge. Whatever it is you enjoy doing outside of work, do it.
Reflect on something that you would like to learn more of in your field. Take a class once a year that does not include CEUs. Go on a conference. If you like starting IVs, consider joining a PICC line team or learn how to place peripheral arterial lines if your hospital offers such competency.
Share your knowledge. Share the workload. Ask for help when you are overwhelmed. Help someone that is overwhelmed. Share your snacks. Share your recipes. Share a compliment. Share a smile. Be the one that spreads cheer around the unit. Positivity is contagious.
Optimize Your Schedule for You
While it’s good to be flexible, if you know that night shift is not your thing and that your body just does not recover well from it, work days. If working overtime is too much for you, honor yourself by not working extra. Don’t sacrifice your well being for the sake of pleasing your manager. Try to plan your schedule to best benefit you so that when you are present and working you are giving one hundred percent. It’s a win win situation for both you and your manager.
Learn to Say No
This can be the hardest lesson in both nursing and life. We want to be all and do all, but at what cost? Ask yourself, are you exhausted all the time, feeling super stressed like you can’t fit everything in, can’t breathe? Say no. This takes a lot of practice, but is necessary to stay balanced. You will find it gets easier.
Stop Being a People Pleaser
It is in a nurse’s DNA to try to be sure the patient is comfortable and has a pain scale of zero. Nurses tend to also be the conflict resolvers of their family. Guess what? It is impossible to please everyone. No matter what you do, someone will have something to say. It has absolutely nothing to do with you. Once you realize this, your professional and personal life will be much easier. Deflect the negativity. Stop carrying the weight of the world.
Maybe this means taking a walk on the beach, perhaps meeting your friends out for dinner or coffee. Take the time to unwind. Make the time. While nursing is far more than just a job, leave work at work. Leave the drama, gossip at work. When you clock out, make a conscious effort of leaving work behind. Separate your work life from your personal life.
Enjoy the last few days of nursing week, but make a conscious effort every day to stay balanced. Let go of things that you have no control over. You might just find that with time and intention, you are a much happier nurse and person. A much happier nurse means a much more effective nurse. Until next time <3