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    IS the best medicine. When was the last time you laughed hard and smiled often in your profession? As nurses, we can set a tone for a pleasant work enviroment. To lighten the mood, can it increase team work, and decrease stress on a unit?


    The first thoughts in the mind of a number of nurses is "I don't even have time for a bathroom or meal break.....this is not funny and I find no reason to laugh". Or even more serious "I work with dying people, people who are not hopeful, it is inappropriate to smile and laugh".

    Every bit of change starts with a first step. As a tremendous amount of literature shows, laughter decreases stress. When the stress level is so high that it is something that one can feel, then it only can reflect on the patients. Patients often can "feel" when a nurse is stressed. To lighten the mood even a little, can make the work lighter, and the patient a little more comfortable.

    Now, I am not speaking about inappropriate laughing and humor, nor am I speaking about making a situation into a joke when clearly it is not. That is where other nursing gifts come into play. Your compassion, your empathy, your knowledge.

    But in a multi discipline, multi cultural, multi dynamic unit, is laughter and smiling a viable option? It takes a huge amount of energy to be miserable. It takes a huge amount of energy to be less than pleased with your job, your enviroment, your co-workers. If for even a portion of the day we take time to really smile, to compliment, to laugh, could it make a team environment that much more of a reality?

    Laughter and humor come in all forms. As nurses, and adults I might add, it is never appropriate to joke at the expense of someone else. That crosses into the mean territory and that had been discussed and re-discussed ad nauseam. Some nurses employ a self depreciating humor. I will argue that sometimes this is a coping skill for situations that are too stressful to deal with otherwise. Not always, but sometimes.

    Laughter and humor, smiling and words of encouragement have a rebound effect. Much like gossip and genreralized miserable behavior is the opposite of this. If a group of nurses are putting that much time and energy into such negative behaviors, is it not a given that there is room for positive behaviors that can come back to us ten-fold?

    They say that if you can visualize it and say it every day that it is only a matter of time before it becomes a reality. (Well, "they" meaning mostly late night infomercials--but I am in love with my George Foreman grill, so it is not all bad). So if we can make an effort to smile more, random acts of kindness, of concern, of opening ourselves up to twisting a negative into a positive it just may increase the possibility that we are happier and less stressed nurses for it.

    Try it for a day. Try it for a week. And share your stories here. Would love to hear them.

    If nurses have time to reflect on what is negarive about who they are and what they do, then it is only to reason that this time can be used to reflect on what we do well
    Last edit by Joe V on Aug 2, '13
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    About jadelpn, LPN, EMT-B

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  3. by   NurseDirtyBird
    I've used humor as a coping mechanism my entire life. I would be far less sane if I hadn't. There is humor to be found in every part of life, and yes, sometimes it can be dark. Sometimes it can be juvenile. My philosophy has always been "Life should be laughed at as often as possible. It deserves it."
    Just last night I had a patient with a brand new colostomy. She loudly passed gas through the ostomy and we both jumped in surprise. She said, "HA! I never know when it's coming now, and I wouldn't have warned you even if I had!" We both had a good laugh. To clarify: I would not have laughed at all had the patient not started. That would have been unprofessional.

    With one little fart joke, she showed me she was trying to cope with a huge change in her body in a healthy way. She seems to have good humor about her condition, and so does her family. It made me feel like she'd be ok.
  4. by   jadelpn
    LOVE this! ^^
    I had a male patient tell me that thankfully, he would never have to sit on a cold toilet seat again, nor strain. And his wife piped up
    "Indeed, but I am not sure you will remember to EVER put down the toilet seat now!" Too funny.
  5. by   MassED
    laughter: essential to survival, let it spread!
  6. by   canoehead
    Sometimes work is like walking into someone else's nightmare. It's either laugh or lose one's mind.
  7. by   Vishwamitr
    After I administer insulin, I ask the patient, "Did it hurt?" and the patient invariably states, "No", or "No. It didn't hurt at all" to which I reply, "Me niether" and we both laugh at this innocuous joke. (By the way, I only do this once per patient for the obvious reason.)
  8. by   LisalaRN99
    I work in the locked psych unit in our hospital's ER doing the psych admissions. If we did not laugh, we would probably run screaming into the night!!