self-care

The Beauty of Reflecting on Your Work

by Nursetopia on February 13, 2016

Have you ever paused to reflect on your work from previous years? Like really paused to reminisce about your life’s work – what you’ve spent your minutes, hours, and days doing? It’s self-care in and of itself.

I’ve been blogging for over five years now, and I use nifty tools like most bloggers to bookmark topics or repost content I’ve written previously. Technology is quite amazing, no? Every once in a while I’ll see someone share a link of my writing that I forgot I penned, or I will catch something in a conversation that makes me think of an article I wrote several years ago. I’ll sift back through the articles and begin re-reading my work. Strangely enough, while I write many articles in moments of emotion, sometimes I cannot even recall what caused me to write my passionate words when reading them retrospectively. And, inevitably, as I’m looking there, I begin to see moments of encouragement intended for others over the years but that equally uplift me in that moment. And just like that – I’m thankful. I’m thankful I wrote down the permanent vulnerability. I am thankful for my creative outlet of writing. I am thankful for time well-spent. I am thankful for my friends through my writing. I am thankful for my days.

The same is true for my nursing work. When I pause to self-reflect, minutes turn into the brain’s quick page-turning yearbook of highlights that lift my soul. Even the dark moments have light flecks of hope in hind sight, faded by the brilliance of much more luminescent times.

Busy-ness can eat us away, Reflection pauses time to bring energy to the moments ahead. It’s beautiful self-care we overlook all-too-frequently in today’s six-second, microwave, drive-through 140-character culture.

Pause and think about your past year, five years, decade, or score. Relish your work, and be renewed for the work ahead.

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The Snickers “you’re not you when you’re hungry” commercials crack me up. Because it’s true! We all tend to turn into different people when we reach that beyond-hungry point.

Maybe that’s partly why so many people working in healthcare are a little perturbed. We’re hungry, and the bag of chips stuffed in a pocket to inhale at any given moment just isn’t cutting it.

Nurse RatchedTake a break, People. You’re not you when you’re hungry. And while Snickers are great as an occasional treat, it may not be the best choice to fuel your life-saving skills throughout the 8 or 12-hour shift. Grab some protein and a complex carbohydrate.

What’s your go-to shift meal and snacks?

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When Nurses Grieve Together

by Nursetopia on September 4, 2015

Oncology nurses experience grief. All nurses experience grief. It’s part of the job we agreed to as life also encompasses death.

As a nurse leader, grief over a patient death is very similar to the grief I experienced as a frontline nurse. While I do not routinely put my hands on patients daily, I still get to know patients and their families in my role, and I get the pleasure of caring for them in ways they may never know. In addition, I get to hear nurses and the rest of the team talk about patients in care meetings or in the break room as they munch on a homemade treat a patient just happened to bring for the group. Stories and story-telling moments are vital learning sessions in healthcare, and it’s important (and sometimes fun) for me to hear these stories of our patients throughout their care.

And conversely, the grief over a patient death as a leader is different from the grief as a patient’s nurse. That bond is entirely different. Entirely.

The longer I am in leadership, the more tenderly I view my nurses and team during seasons of patient loss. It is humbling watching a group of nurses attend a viewing together or stop by an end-of-life patient’s room one-by-one, only to leave with tear-stained faces. It’s moving caring for a multidisciplinary team passing the Kleenex box around a gathered office space during work hours. It’s endearing hearing a handful of nurses share unknown stories with a family who may have never been in the care environment to experience them, showing either a completely different side of a patient or reinforcing the truest of true personalities and characteristics throughout even the hardest of health times.

Nurses are seriously some of the strongest, most courageous, versatile, and resilient people I’ve ever met. Even in their grief, they are amazing. That gathered grief shows the deep sincerity of their care to people who were once strangers to them but now forever a part of them.

Not everyone grieves together. I believe it is a sign of a strong team when grief is shared, though. What do you think?

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Slowing the Nurse Pace

by Nursetopia on October 7, 2014

I learned the nurse pace from years of working on the unit. It’s about twice as fast as a regular stroll, and it will leave you behind without notice. It is a stride that says “calm” and “let’s go, go, go!” all at the same time. It typically doesn’t alarm others because, relatively, all the nurses are pacing one another; it’s ordinary.

Even after years of being off the floor, I can’t shake the nurse pace. Especially in the mornings, at the early beginnings of my day, if I’m moving, I’m moving; I try not to get frustrated with others, but I absolutely will walk in front of you – not alongside you – if you cannot keep up. Sometimes people even ask what’s the rush. It takes mental strength to slow my pace and try to act cool about it.

I’m not the only one.

Have you ever noticed this about much of our profession? Are we just accustomed to going non-stop that our entire life tempo changes?

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Oh my goodness. I am so glad one of my friends shared the Tumblr #WhatShouldWeCallNursing with me. I know Nurses Week is supposed to be all wonderful and full of appreciation – and believe me – it was, but I am pretty sure the universe conspired against me last week saying, “Yeah, I know you’ve been a nurse for a while and particularly love this week. Let’s see how you handle this; tell me now if you still love nursing. Mwuuuaaaaahhhhhaaaahaaaaaa!” At least that’s how it felt. Seriously…tough week.

So, when my friend shared #WhatShouldWeCallNursing, I cried from laughter (and thankfully not due to my week…although that would absolutely come later in the week, unfortunately). I’ve been back to the Tumblr I don’t know how many times, and I end up laughing out loud among people who just stare at me.

I don’t care. It’s that funny. Check it out. 

Thanks to the awesome, anonymous nurse who continues to take suggestions from the nursing community for ongoing posts. I love it so much, I included a few gif’s that pertain to my nursing world…

When a meeting gets cancelled just minutes before it starts:

When people ask me if I sit at a desk all day as a nurse director:

When my staffing works out:

When my new positions are approved for hiring:

When someone says they didn’t receive any information sent out multiple times over the course of six weeks regarding the mandatory training due in one day.

Have a great week!

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Refocusing on the Art of Nursing

by Nursetopia on March 25, 2014

Nurses Week (May 6-12) will be here before we all know it. And what will nurses have throughout that week? The same they have each and every week – not enough hours in the day and fewer resources to care for sicker patients. Day after day. week after week. It’s easy to forget the love – the art of nursing, but we can change that.

Elizabeth Scala, MBA, MSN, RN, is hosting The Art of Nursinga four-day, online series to reinvigorate professional passion during Nurses Week. With twelve sessions crossing numerous and well-known nurse speakers, the series will focus on practical concepts for nurses to care for themselves. And with enrollment packages ranging from students through entire organizations, there is something for everyone.

What nurse doesn’t want a little bit of time to himself or herself to focus on the art of our profession rather than trinkets and bobbles during the celebrated Nurses Week? Share The Art of Nursing with those around you – nursing students, nursing colleagues, and leaders within your organization.

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Give Grace to Grow

by Nursetopia on January 23, 2014

Grace. 

It’s a beautiful word. I use it a lot in health care – to talk about professionals in their work in addition to encouraging professionals as they learn. We live and work in an immediate culture. We have to have and do and be everything – all at once – now. It seems as though there is little to no time given to individuals to learn these days, and I mean this as an expectation from both the teacher/supervisor as well as the learner. We set unrealistic expectations of ourselves and demand that we know everything on day one.

I know because I am the same way.

I picked up a phrase, a philosophy, really, from my brother-in-law, a pastor, about a decade ago. He always used to say, “Give people grace to grow,” meaning we all make mistakes, and we all learn from our mistakes; allow people to have time to make mistakes and learn from them. This has deep spiritual meaning for me in the workplace – in health care – today, and I frequently tell this to team members as they are orienting or learning a new system or process. I whisper it to myself at times, as well.

Grace to grow. Grace to grow. Grace to grow. 

Growth takes time; growth takes patience; growth takes grace. Provide your life with some space – some grace…to grow.

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When Something Has To Give – Give, Give Away

by Nursetopia on October 21, 2013

I have the current privilege of helping open a brand new cancer center. My family and I have relocated to a new city. Over the course of one weekend, I got a new job with new responsibilities and new colleagues, my husband’s business changed, our home physically changed, my children got a new school with new teachers and friends, and we started attending a different church. Whew! It has been really, really great. Even good stress – eustress – is still distressing and exhausting.

Writing has been my self-care literally since age 10. I haven’t been able to write recently like I’m accustomed to, like I’d really like to do so. There just hasn’t been enough time. And that’s okay. Something had to give, and that something was writing. It doesn’t mean I’ve given up writing or blogging by any means. I simply needed to focus on the most vital of life pieces, which for me, will always be my family.

Life in recent weeks has been full of work, yes. But, my restoration and renewal has come at the hands of tiny people, high-pitched squeals, lamp-lit nighttime childhood reading, cuddled television-watching sessions, spontaneous date nights with My Love, and quick trips to visit parents and siblings.

It has been divine. And exactly what I needed. At first I guilted myself into writing an article here and there, but then I forgave myself and gave up the masochistic emotions and self-inflicted stress.

My writing is starting to return as the everyday stress of learning a new role, new people, new roads, and new environments dissipates.

Daily stress seems to be increasing in every healthcare role. Something has to give. And when it does, give, give away, Friends.

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The Sacredness of Tears

by Nursetopia on August 24, 2013

A sweet friend shared this quote with me several years ago. I often think about it, and I most certainly thought about it a lot this week as people within my organization – people I love working alongside – learned of my move to another healthcare system and we shared conversations of the past, present, and future.

SacrednessOfTears

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Choose Well

by Nursetopia on July 17, 2013

Everyday we are faced with decisions we know we should choose, but for some reason or another, we do not choose it. An easy example is exercise.

know I should get up before the sun comes up and workout simply because I will not have time in the evening, and it will get overlooked fairly quickly. Physical activity early in the morning is good for my body as well as my brain. Still, oh, it is so much easier to hit my snooze button and sleep and extra 15 minutes. By that time, I can rationalize not even working out because I need every single minute to get ready for work. Since I’m not going to workout, I can sleep another 20 minutes. Yay!

And then I get out of bed – 35 or 40 minutes later – upset at myself for not working out because I know I will literally not have time for the rest of the day to make my physical health a priority in that way.

Exercise is the simple example. We have these internal discussions all the time in both our personal and our professional lives because we know how to choose well and still don’t want to do so. Interestingly, when I’m faced with these kind of decisions, I almost always regret not choosing well, but I never regret actually choosing well. That makes choosing well the subsequent times all the easier.

Choose well today, Friends.

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