Co-workers, Criticism, and How to Calm Your Storm

  1. When things are stressful at work it is easy to feel trapped and hard to not bring it home. It seems to spill into our everyday life and can leave us feeling hopeless and demoralized. Don't give up! You are not alone! Pour something warm and soothing into your favorite cup and let's make a plan.

    Co-workers, Criticism, and How to Calm Your Storm

    You aren't alone. Many nurses wake-up in the morning wishing they could be a greeter at the local discount store rather than have to walk into their unit and face another day. While knowing you are not the only one feeling this way might bring you a measure of comfort it is not very helpful in overcoming the problem.

    To overcome the problem means we have to first identify what it is. Are you a night owl having to get up before daylight and trudge off to work? Are you a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed morning person that hates to miss a sunrise? Knowing yourself well enough to understand how you're wired is important. A simple change of working hours might give you a whole new lease on life.

    If the hours you are working is the problem have a conversation with your manager about moving to a day or night shift and get your name on the waiting list or put in the paperwork to make the move. Simple.

    If only it were always that easy, right? Sometimes we hate where we are because we don't feel capable, prepared, properly trained, supported, and maybe we are stuck in a unit with a bully mentality. That boils down to a unit culture issue and that is huge. It can suck the very life out of us and make even our days off seem horrendous as all we do on them is dread the next workday.

    That's no way to live dear one. If you and I were having coffee today I'd reach across the little table and give your hand a squeeze, look into your eyes and tell you that you're going to get through this and we are going to come up with a plan.

    First, take a deep mindful breath and remember there is only one you. Good or bad, warts, guts, feathers and all, you matter and when your life is over you are the only one who will live with your choices and the consequences thereof.

    Second, define your priorities. You must always remain true to yourself and keep your own moral compass pointing true north. In order to do that we need to think about the big questions like:

    • Where do you want your nursing career to end up, a specific unit perhaps, becoming a nurse practitioner, or maybe teaching?
    • Do you have other interests you want to develop and nursing is simply a paycheck until you get there?
    • How do you feel about your patients as people?
    • What are some moral issues you hold dear that would not be conducive to working in a particular area?

    Knowing those things and having a set-out plan to achieve those goals can help you see that your current situation is temporary. Knowing that this is not your forever is a truth that can bring immediate relief.

    Third, know that you cannot control anything another person will or will not do and define your parameters. When I say "know" I mean tuck it down in the deepest part of your being and remind yourself often that you decide your own course and way just as everyone else decides theirs. When you define parameters you make a decision as to what matters as in, if Nurse A is frowning and sharp today I will remind myself she does not control my day and ignore her. If Nurse A calls me stupid today I will address that with her respectfully and firmly and if there is no resolution I will follow policy to get the situation resolved. If Nurse A needs help I will cheerfully help her etc... Remember that in every situation you get to choose whether you react or respond. Having a thought out plan ahead of time and knowing what your facilities policies are is very important.

    Fourth, look at your current situation and be determined to learn all you can. My daddy often said that you can learn something from anyone and even if that is how not to do something that is learning nonetheless. Remember to never assume anything and to always look up policy and procedures. They are in place to protect your patients AND you and knowing them is one of the biggest safety nets you have in your practice as a nurse. Seek out a nurse that you identify as great at what she does and mimic her. If a nurse you respect has a suggestion for you listen to what she is saying. Make yourself a better nurse by not taking constructive criticism personally and dig deep within yourself and see if there is any merit to it. If so, learn and go on. Criticism does not mean you are a bad nurse, criticism can simply mean you have something new to learn.

    Lastly, don't let others define who you are and do practice good self-care. Remember that not one person you work with is capable of truly knowing you enough to say who you are. Never, ever, ever, let someone slap a label on you! Just because someone has an opinion does not make it a truth. Allow yourself plenty of time for restorative sleep, make a plan ahead of time for fun on your days off and watch how much sugar and caffeine you are consuming. Give yourself something to look forward to by way of a vacation or a simple weekend away with your favorite person or fur baby and some great scenery or a great book. And know that you know that your work situation is only temporary. It. Is. Not. Your. Life. You are going to learn something from this time. You are going to survive through this time and you are going to be better on the other side.

    Don't ever give anyone the power to define you or to determine your attitude by their own. You choose to stay above it! Hold onto your hope and your joy! Take a deep breath, know that you are loved, know there is a plan for your future that can hold wonderful things and this current situation is not your forever.

    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 14
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    About JS McCabe, RN, RN Pro

    Joycesarah McCabe is an optimist who was almost gobbled up by a couple of bullies when she was a baby nurse. Instead of running away she dealt with them head-on and now spends her time encouraging and tucking as many baby nurses under her wings as she can. When she has a spare moment she enjoys her eight grandchildren, her seven children, her dog, her cows, her horse, her chickens, her garden, a good book and her husband of almost thirty years. As a registered nurse her years of experience are in the area of hospice, newborn nursery, and pediatrics. She reports that she runs off of expensive coffee and too many tacos.

    Joined: Mar '18; Posts: 15; Likes: 40

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  3. by   Have Nurse
    Very much enjoyed article! Thank you.
  4. by   JS McCabe, RN
    I so appreciate your encouragement Have Nurse! Blessings to you!!
  5. by   NickiLaughs
    I needed to see this right now. Unfortunately I've been a bit of a job hopper due to getting sick of dealing with lazy people who avoid doing work. I worked ICU for 4 years followed by ER for almost 5 years. 3 hospitals in each specialty. Now I'm in GI and encountering the same sort of work ethic (which is none). I guess irregardless of my field I will always encounter it. It's challenging because I always get off late because the earlier shifts say, "why rush?". I'm trying to find inner peace and realize that wherever I go I will encounter these people. It doesn't make it less frustrating though. I've talked to management several times as you think they'd care about people taking two hour lunches, etc....but I guess if they actually cards they would have done something about it much longer ago.
  6. by   caliotter3
    In about 50 years of being in the workforce, I have never encountered a place where there is not one excellent example of laziness and getting paid for doing minimal work. Now, after all these years, what irks me just as much as observing how laziness proliferates, is finding that when some issue comes about, it is always me that gets labeled as "trouble". Management almost never deals with poor performers, but usually never misses a chance to punish someone who meets or exceeds what is considered to be a day's work for a day's pay.