Nursing often presents enough challenges all on its own, but with the COVID-19 pandemic and current events creating additional stress in this landscape, many nurses are left feeling overwhelmed on a daily basis — struggling to manage patient outlooks and at the same time maintain positive personal outlooks. Shifting into these positive mindsets can help nurses through tough times. Of course, this is easier said than done. Making this shift requires knowledge, awareness and some proven techniques.
So whether you need to replace your favorite nursing shoes with a pair that won’t wear out so quickly and hurt you throughout the day or the months of quarantine have made going back to work feel worse than it should, consider any and all of the tips listed below.
- Adopt a Mindful Approach: Adopting a mindful approach means staying fully present and, in turn, leaving no time for anxiety to develop and no opportunity for you to be overwhelmed. Along with this, when you keep yourself stationed in the current moment, it tends to become much more manageable.
- Embrace the Positive People Around You: Unfortunately, not everybody is going to be a ray of sunshine. Try to surround yourself with positivity and insight, but when that’s not possible, consider tactics like redirecting the conversation to a more enjoyable subject, allowing YOUR positivity or insight to take initiative or simply removing yourself as soon as possible.
- Focus on the Difference You Make: If you’ve ever received “thank you” notes from patients, families or colleagues, keep them close by to embrace as a pick-me-up, or even hang them up on the wall if there is space to do so. Along with the direct appreciation that you may receive, it’s also important to reflect on the differences you’ve made and the gratitude that YOU feel toward your role.
- Make Your Own Needs a Top Priority: There’s a good chance that as a nurse, you’ve gotten used to focusing on the needs of others — and often neglecting your own needs in the process. Patient care relies on a nurse’s personal care, so make sure that you’re indulging in food, water, rest and paying attention to your safety, even if only for your performance or patients’ sake. If you’re having a particularly hard shift, now might be the day to start!
- Make Sure You’re Physically Comfortable: It’s hard to keep a positive mindset when your body is suffering. If your scrub top is too tight and riding up, if your scrub bottoms are digging in, if your hair is tied in a way that’s giving you a headache or if your shoes are causing you blisters, address (or re-dress) the problem immediately. Consider investing in the perfect scrubs with special consideration toward the fit and style, finding hair accessories designed for working women and upgrading your footwear to a reliable and recommended nursing shoe like Dansko clogs to encourage better days.
- Stay Hydrated. When it’s possible, you’ll want to keep your drink in view — and even add some lemon, cucumbers or berries into it to keep your interest piqued and boost your mood every time you see or slosh it. Along with this, if you’re a nurse who utilizes caffeine frequently throughout a shift, balancing out its dehydrating effects with some water will have a major impact.
- Record All of the Good Work You’ve Done: This may not solve your bad day as it’s happening, but it will allow you to walk away from it with a fresh perspective, not bring your tough day home and possibly help prevent you from having another tough day tomorrow. This is because reflecting on the day and writing down what you’ve achieved during it can help improve your mood, provide you with a sense of achievement and help you to embrace tip #3 in the future!
- Eat Something: Eating something that excites you can be a real lift — just be careful. When you work a 12-hour shift with minimal breaks, the fuel that you put into your body matters. A small but exciting sugary treat or a healthy snack will work to boost your overall wellness, including increasing your energy and improving your mood.
- Get Outside: Not only will getting outside into the fresh air and sunshine improve your mood on a tough day, but shift workers in particular have been shown to lack vitamin D — so you have an extra excuse to soak up the fresh air and sunshine whenever you can. Whether it be going for a short walk or eating your lunch, any time spent outside is good for you on the inside!
- Find Your Inspiration: Whether it be looking at your grandmother’s nursing photos and feeling the passion in your heart or buying a new cute pair of scrubs that show off your style and solidify your professional image, it’s important to remind yourself every once in a while (especially during a tough shift) why you pursued this path and reinforce your pride it.
- Get Organized: Getting yourself organized won’t necessarily fix your bad day, but it will prevent them from happening in the future. Consider simple steps, like getting your keys, ID badge and other essentials ready the night before you work to save yourself the unnecessary frustration and anxiety in the morning (and throughout the day by taking other simple steps)!
- Identify the Source of the Problem: Putting the effort in to identify the source of your bad mood will save you a lot of effort when it comes to trying to combat it, even if it’s something that falls out of your control. From the music playing over the radio grating your nerves to missing your new puppy at home, sometimes just knowing what’s making your day tough can allow you to shake it off.
Better Days Ahead
For most nurses, getting to experience beautiful, wonderful, and life-changing moments is all part of the job — unfortunately, so are the occasional experiences that make it tough to maintain a positive outlook. Positivity in healthcare is essential, though, and it’s crucial (and easier than you may think!) to strive for positivity with the same rigor that you strive for productivity.