The modern holiday season has become more of a mad dash from November though the new year. There are so many school plays to see, cookies to bake, family and friends to visit, shopping to do, packages to ship. With all that added to a normally jammed work and life schedule, the holidays become a blurred jumble to get thorough rather than enjoy.
Here are five easy ways to make your holiday season a little nicer, a little kinder, and a lot more satisfying.
1. Give What You Can
Part of the reason giving is so satisfying is because it requires you to share something valuable to you with someone else. If you have money to give, buy some extra presents for kids who might not get much. Spend some of your extra on gift cards to grocery stores and drop them off at a local food pantry. If you have extra goods in your home (unused sweaters, coats, blankets) find places that need those items and drop them off.
2. Spend Your Time
If you don’t have much extra money, spend your time in ways that are equally valuable. Take an afternoon to visit with shut-ins in your town. Bake some homemade goodies to share with neighbors or a senior center. Volunteer your nursing know how to teach a group of kids about health and wellness. Walk some dogs at the pet shelter. Knit baby caps or pack up hurricane relief boxes for areas hard hit this year. The world needs a lot of things right now and time is in short supply. Give some of yours and watch what an impact it has.
3. Work Hard to Spread Cheer
Hustle and bustle doesn’t always make for happy people. The lines in stores, the traffic on the roads, and the time spent on extra errands can make even the most even-keeled person cranky. But a lot of cranky people make everything that much worse. Make an effort to be the person who is kinder than the next. Feed the birds. Hold the door open for someone. Let the person with two items go ahead of you in line. Chat with someone sitting next to you at a community event or a professional gathering. When you are kinder, it spreads to others.
4. Reflect Alone and Together
Take time to think about what the season means to you. Dig deep and uncover what will make the season more joyful and more joy-filled. Do you want to hear more music or do you need silence? Do you need to be around people or do you need a day to yourself? What purpose do you want to fulfill in the new year? Find others who have similar thoughts about this time of year and spend some time talking and hearing each other. Then move into the next month with intention and a vision for making the season better for you.
5. Connect with Others
Connect face-to-face with people you care about or with people you have lost touch with. It’s easy to lose connections in today’s online environment, but the real joys of something as simple as a cup of coffee with a friend can soothe your soul. Reach out to others. Heal old wounds or repair the relationships worth fixing (don’t even consider wasting your time on the ones that aren’t). Recognize that we all carry our own burdens and that together they may be lessened.
How will you make the world a kinder place this year?
Conflict resolution is an essential skill for every nurse. Conflict in the workplace may be unavoidable, but it can be minimized and resolved. Learning to resolve your conflict effectively and early—in a way that does not increase your stress level—is important.
Nurses can experience different types of conflicts including personal, interpersonal, and interdepartmental conflicts. Any conflict can interfere with workflow and harmony. Conflicts can also decrease productivity and damage self-esteem. However, not all conflicts are bad; occasionally a conflict can be good for change in the workplace.
Here are some tips to improve your conflict resolution skills.
1. Practice active listening and communication skills.
Practice listening to what the other person has to say, without interrupting. Make sure you understand what the other person is telling you. Communication provides an opportunity to share thoughts and problems as well as the reason why they are having conflicts. Face-to-face communication is more effective than other forms because it allows for an active exchange of information. It also allows you to observe important nonverbal cues from the other party. It is important that you use open-ended questions to make sure each side understands what the other person thinks and how he/she feels. This invites people to delve deeper into the problem and find the root cause for the conflict.
2. Stay calm and recognize the conflict.
Being calm and aware of your emotions are vital aspects of conflict resolution. Recognizing the legitimacy of conflicting needs and analyzing them in an environment of compassionate understanding will lead to successful problem solving. Use critical thinking skills to analyze the problem and plan your strategy, including what you want to say, and then write it down and rehearse it. Create a note card, if necessary, with your main talking points.
3. Maintain a positive attitude and practice managing your emotions.
A positive attitude is what you need to solve half of the problem. Emotions play a greater part in most decisions so recognizing and understanding your emotion will help you control your emotional response.
“Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” — Aristotle
One of the most dreaded job interview questions is this: “What is your biggest fear?” Like a deer caught in headlights, many job candidates don’t know how to answer such a question—should you admit your real fear or should you turn it into a “positive” and skim over it all?
Even if you aren’t job hunting right now, the question, “What is your biggest fear?” is an excellent way to assess your career hopes and plans. Figuring out your underlying dissatisfaction and what areas you are most concerned about can help jolt you into taking action to overcome your biggest concern.
What’s you career fear?
I am not getting anywhere.
After years of being in the same role, it’s easy to assume your chances for advancement are limited. If you are unhappy with your role, it’s time to rethink your career path. Do you want a supervisory role or are you looking for more responsibility in your job duties? Do you want to move from one area of nursing to another? Deciding where you want to go is often the first step in achieving your goal.
I am expendable.
Many nurses, at one time or another, feel like their jobs aren’t secure. They aren’t off base—layoffs happen and nurses are often the first target in a hospital staff reduction. They key is to make your presence well-known, well-established, and valuable to your unit and to your whole organization. Always do your best, and go above and beyond your job requirements. Read up on the latest research in your specialty so you’re current with cutting-edge developments. Learn to become the expert on new equipment in your unit. But don’t just do your job and go home. Join a committee within your organization and make an effort to help facilitate change or boost engagement for all employees.
I don’t have the qualifications I need for the job I want.
You can’t fake experience. If you need more qualifications to get the job you want, you have to start somewhere, and you might as well start now. But don’t assume you need another degree. Consider the role you want and see what other people in that role have for qualifications. Would more certification help you? What about a switch to experience in a different department or even another area of the country? Qualifications come in many forms, so decide where your need to boost yours and get started on it.
I could do better than this job, these benefits, this organization.
Feeling dissatisfied is a huge red flag that it’s time for a change. What is the root of your concern? Is your organization in financial or ethical trouble? Maybe it’s time to actively open up your own job search. Is your salary below that of other nurses with your education and experience? It might be, but consider all the other factors that play into your salary total and work-life balance. Would a salary boost require a much longer commute? Is your benefits package more generous than most? Being properly compensated for the job you do is essential, so make sure you consider all the factors surrounding your whole benefits/salary/work-life combination. If you are truly underpaid, it’s time to gather hard evidence and talk to your manager or human resources. And if that fails, a new organization might be your next step.
Confronting your biggest job fear isn’t a fun task, but it’s one that can get you out of a rut and on the road to a career you want.
She didn’t know her words would haunt me for years to come. It was a night like any other night. I stood at the bedside of a relatively stable patient, and I was dutifully giving him his meds. The floor was quiet, patients and nurses preparing for the night shift a few hours away.
Like a fire klaxon, a voice cut through the relative peace of the hospital floor. “My husband is dying! My husband is dying!”
Instinctively, I dropped the medicines and darted out of the room. In the middle of the hall, a middle-aged woman ran toward me, screaming about her husband in the room across the hall. “He’s dying,” she yelled into my face.
Mouth dry, heart pounding, I pushed past her and entered the patient’s room. Of course, he was unconscious, blue, and not breathing. I started CPR, but the craziness was not over.
I wasn’t exactly a new nurse. I had been through a few codes, and they all went rather smoothly. I never experienced the stomach-churning nausea of having a family member witness their loved one dying.
The patient wasn’t mine, but I knew about him. He had recently had coronary artery bypass grafting surgery and was due to be transferred to the ICU any minute because his heart rate and rhythm were abnormal. His doctor was on the floor, writing the paperwork for the transfer.
Others had heard the wife call out in anguish, and everyone came running, including the doctor. He burst into the room, shouting, “I need an intubation kit! Get me an intubation kit!”
I could hear the rumble of the crash cart coming down the hall, but it hadn’t quite reached the room yet. The doctor continued to yell at me, to point, to spit. His hands shook, but I had been here before. I yelled back, “Hold on a second! It’s coming!”
I realized then that the doctor was more afraid than I was. The cart arrived, the patient continued to code, and the doctor got his intubation equipment. Although we managed to get a sustainable rhythm on the patient, he soon died in the ICU.
Of all the codes I experienced over my years as a nurse, this one sticks out as the most horrible. When codes start, nurses become the ultimate professionals. No one runs. No one yells. Everyone works as a team.
As a relatively new nurse, I never experienced the terror that “normal” people experience when someone starts to die. For me, I knew how to handle it. A patient going south deserves my close care, but the emotion is usually not high during care involving advanced cardiovascular life support. Afterward, I would cry and shake, but not when I needed my faculties about me to do everything I could to save a life.
This code was different. In fact, I can live it over and over in my mind, and I still feel as scared now as I did then. The wife and the doctor were breaking the rules. They didn’t know how to deal with death, and I don’t really blame them. I just know their actions scarred me deeply.
Trauma is a real problem in nursing, and situations like these can cause a nurse to relive moments that didn’t go well. This is especially true of new nurses. New nurses make mistakes, and they haven’t developed the ability to be the calm professional yet. This means that the trauma of extraordinary events can stay with them forever.
I never dreamed that I would face a family member who was screaming that her husband was dying. I can only imagine the torment she was going through, the heartbreak of knowing that her loved one was slipping away before her eyes. She reached out for the only help she could.
And that help was me.
Her terror has stayed with me all of these years. In that moment, I became her. I empathized with her, as any good nurse will do. I felt her sorrow, and despite our best efforts, we couldn’t save her husband. I find myself imagining how she felt when he actually passed away.
I will admit that this situation scared me, and I have dwelt on it more than I should. Nurses, especially new nurses, have to develop a sense of detachment from the patient and family. But what about the human side of the equation? Too much distance leads to too little caring.
I am happy to say that I took part in codes after this one, and I did the best job I could. In fact, I was praised for my work in situations where a life was on the line. But I never forgot the distraught woman in the hallway, or the surreal feeling of dread that her words—”He’s dying!”—caused in me.
It remains a trauma that has impacted my life forever. Nurses need to realize that they experience traumas, too, and that it is okay to talk about them. It is okay to be afraid. It is okay to reflect on the situation and examine the emotions the trauma awakens. Without this reflection, the emotions become buried. Ignored emotions manifest as substance abuse, out-of-control feelings, and hatred of the job.
My trauma is just one example. Almost every nurse has a story of when she or he was scared and traumatized. Talk about it. Don’t pretend to be so strong that you don’t need to ask for help.
I wish I could have saved that man. I wish I could have wrapped that wife up in my arms and made it easier for her. I couldn’t, but it will stay with me forever as the trauma in my career that haunts me, because I couldn’t hide behind the façade of the calm professional.
I am the calm professional, but I am human, too.
Women represent nearly 80% of the healthcare workforce, and they represent 77% of hospital employees. Also, 26% of hospital and health system CEOs were women in 2014. Statistics show the number of women in healthcare is rising, but there are still challenges. One of the most widely talked about challenge is gender inequality, including the lack of women in leadership positions. While gender inequality is important, this issue is not why women in healthcare are an endangered species.
Women in the healthcare industry are just as likely (if not more) to suffer from anxiety, stress, depression and other mental and emotional issues. Like most healthcare workers, women who are physicians, registered nurses, home health aides and more enter the field with a passion to help others. But if you fall into these categories, how many times have you neglected your own needs? Shouldn’t you treat yourself with the same care as a patient?
While the term endangered is normally used in reference to animals, you’re surrounded by just as many threats as a leopard in the wild. For decades, women in healthcare have suffered from stress, fatigue, strain due to schedule, insufficiency in internal training, and injuries from physical tasks. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, female physicians die by suicide at a 400 percent higher rate than women in other professions. One article posed the question “who takes care of the caregivers?”
The answer is YOU!
There are some issues in healthcare that is a work in process, but you have the power to positively influence your well-being today. Your patients need you. Your family needs you. And, you need you. So, treat yourself with proper rest, prayer, stress management techniques, supportive relationships, and be the first thing on your to-do list by adhering to your discovery checklist.
When you’re a nurse, you know your day is going to have some stress. It’s the nature of the work, one that nurses accept so they can can have a career doing the incredible work they do.
But when stress gets to you at work, you aren’t just impacting yourself. When a nurse is running on empty and feeling the pressure build, it changes everything from their focus on medication math to patient interactions.
When you feel a particularly stressful day turning into an even worse one, what can you do to stop it or at least make it less awful?
No, this isn’t one about stopping and taking nice cleansing breaths. That would, of course, be ideal and would go a long way toward helping bring down your stress levels. But very few nurses stop for anything in their day. You can do this one without even having to slow down, since you probably don’t have that option anyhow.
Breathe means focus – focus on your breath, focus on your feet walking in the hall, focus on a color. If you struggle with this, rub your hands together to bring your attention to one thing and ground you. Gaining that focus can help you stay in the moment and not become overwhelmed with a task ahead of you.
2. Walk Away
If you can escape to a quiet area – yes, even a bathroom stall works in a pinch – to close your eyes and count to 60, do it. Removing yourself from the stressful situation (obviously you can’t walk away from a patient you are caring for or responsible for) for a quick break can snap you back to a better place. Walk outside, walk down the hall, pop into the supply closet if that’s the only place–just pull yourself away so you can get a little perspective.
3. Think Ahead
When your mood is particularly bleak, plan something enjoyable. Whether that means looking forward to picking up a gossipy magazine, planning a charity run, taking your family out for an ice cream, or working on a puzzle, thinking about something you enjoy and can look forward to doing can make your current day a little more bearable.
4. Listen to Something
You can’t blast your favorite tunes at work, but you can listen to some that are especially meaningful or calming. If you need energy, there’s nothing like an old-fashioned rock anthem to pump up your mood. One song on your headphones can take you to another place. If music isn’t your thing, try a comedy channel to give you a laugh instead.
5. Plan for Stress
You’re a nurse and your job is stressful. You can’t get around that. But it’s not a surprise, so you can plan for ways to help combat the potential for crashing and burning when you have a bad day.
If your company offers any kind of wellness benefits, take advantage of them. Can you get a quick 15-minute chair massage to ease your aching muscles? Do they have yoga classes, nutrition seminars, or even lectures on how to reduce stress? Take advantage of these benefits because they can help you. Do you have a coworker who always says the right thing to cheer you? Seek that person out.
One of life’s hardest lessons is when you realize no one else is going to take care of your stress for you. When you show up for work, you’re needed immediately and entirely. If your well is running low, you need to take steps to fill it up again. Try a few things to see what works best to dampen your stress and then keep doing it.