Another day taking care of sick people. You love your job but the stress of your day is encroaching on your health. Maybe you find yourself tired all the time no matter how much sleep you get. Or you are finding that those scrubs, usually loose, are now fitting tight around the middle. Does your diet consist of donuts, soda and coffee to make it through the day? Having worked at the bedside as a Registered Nurse for years, I know my job took a toll on my health. My weight sky rocketed, I felt overwhelmed and tired. I did not work out, chose unhealthy food options and I dreamed about patient alerts going off and missing meds! I got to the point of feeling altogether beat up. My dream job began negatively affecting my health. I knew I had to change. And I did. It took me a while to figure it out but I succeeded. My hope is that this article provides a few tips to help you better take care of yourself during your stressful work day, so your work day works for you. These ideas can help bring a bounce back to your step, promote self-care and extremely leave you living brilliant!
Identify a buddy.
Once you have received nursing report, work with your buddy to identify how you can support each other. Ideally this buddy will be the nurse next to you so you can assist each other during the day. Create an agenda of when each of you will go to lunch. Create a positive environment by complimenting each other on their work. Smile at each other! This simple act can easily boost each other's mood. It's easy to get lost in patient care, so check in with each other often. A simple gesture such as 'I will check on your patient in room 29' can help someone feel supported and promotes teamwork so you can thrive through your work day.
Take some time for yourself.
A day at the bedside taking care of a patient can get out of control in an instant. Your day that was planned with a lunch break all of a sudden becomes a whir of doctors and nurses running in your room. Your stable patient just coded and your patient in the next room develops projectile vomiting. Welcome to the life of a nurse. These stressful events can throw off even the most seasoned nurses. When an appropriate time presents itself, take a moment to yourself. Thank yourself for doing a great job. Take a few deep breaths and tell yourself you are doing your best in this moment. Appreciate what went well during the stressful times. Here's a simple meditation to bring yourself back to the present: place your hand over your heart, breathe deeply, feel your feet in your shoes, and say out loud 'I love myself and I am doing my best'. Acknowledging yourself for doing your best can help alleviate any negativity that may have built up with managing challenging events.
Talk positively to yourself.
I know when I worked at the bedside I would usually beat myself up for the things I did not get done. By the end of a 12 hour shift, with the demands of patients, families, doctors and other staff, I was emotionally, physically and spiritually drained. Instead of beating myself up, I needed to nurture myself. Do not wait until the end of your day or your day off to take care of you. By then, overeating has set in! During your work day, be kind to yourself with words. Find a journal with a design that speaks to you and brings it to work. Take a few moments a couple times during your work day to write in positive comments to yourself. Embrace and celebrate the hard work you are doing with a big written pat on the back! Maybe a comment such as' Wow! I just shared a beautiful moment offering support to my patient '. Or, 'I am a rock star! I gave all my patient's meds on time! ' Is this part of your job? Of course it is. But that does not mean you can not celebrate. Feeling so overwhelmed you can not find any positive thoughts about you? Engage your colleagues in the fun and positivity. Ask your buddy to write in your journal a positive comment about your work as a nurse. We are our own worst critics and seeing someone else write a positive comment that can make a world of difference.
Working as a nurse at the bedside can be stressful but rewarding. I hope these simple and straight forward tips support you in your work day and allow you to be the brilliant nurse that you are!