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6 Resiliency Tips for Your Nursing Staff

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ElizabethScala1 specializes in psychiatry, community health, wellness.

Resiliency keeps your nursing staff on the job. It staves off stress, illness, and burnout. A resilient nursing staff builds strong teams able to respond to the demands of this noble profession through long hours, patient and family needs, and… aching backs! Check out these tips to share with your nursing staff to keep them resilient and strong.

6 Resiliency Tips for Your Nursing Staff
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Resiliency keeps your nursing staff on the job. It staves off stress, illness, and burnout. A resilient nursing staff builds strong teams able to respond to the demands of this noble profession through long hours, patient and family needs, and... aching backs!

Check out these tips to share with your nursing staff to keep them resilient and strong:

Nurture with Nature

On those shifts where breaks are few or nonexistent, taking 30 seconds to get some fresh air, even if it's just sticking your head out the door to remind yourself that there is a "world out there" and breathing in some fresh air, can reset your mood and lower the stress response -- meaning lowering your heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels.

Pack Your Lunch With Quick Snacks

If you are able to take a full lunch break - GREAT! But have a snack-type lunch on hand just in case. A few grapes, apple slices or a banana, an organic juice box, crackers, cheese, and nuts allow you to eat quickly and nutritiously as well, in order to get you through your shift. Also pack your locker with quick snacks just in case you do not have time to pack a lunch -- a small jar of a nut butter, crackers, nuts, dried fruit, juice boxes, and granola bars can get you through a shift easily enough. Just don't forget to restock your stash!

Focus on the Patient in Front of You

This is a case of easier said than done, unfortunately. Nurses often have overwhelming patient loads, but only one patient can be tended to at a time. Focusing all your energy on the patient in front of you prevents mistakes and often helps you catch things that you might miss if your mind is on your other patient(s), rather than the one in front of you. Mistakes are costly to nurses not only in their self-confidence in their ability to do the job, but also in their co-workers' confidence to be a strong and trustworthy team member. Give yourself the benefit of full focus. The next patient will still be there when you are finished with the one in front of you.

Keep a Reminder of Joy in Your Pocket or Locker

Some nurses decorate their lockers with pictures of their children or pets. One nurse I knew kept a small seashell in her pocket that her young son had picked up on their last vacation. Another sometimes brought her lunch in a Barbie lunchbox because her daughter packed it for her. A small touchstone of a reminder of the joy in your life can alleviate stress and bring a smile to your face and heart to power your through some tough shift hours.

As a Nurse Manager, you can.....

Plan Some Fun Outings

Great teams do not limit bonding to work alone. Great teams can bond over dinner and a movie, ice skating, hiking, the beach, and all sorts of other activities. You get to see your co-workers in a whole new light and some regular clothes. How many times have you run into a co-worker outside of work and almost not recognized them without their scrubs on? One guideline to follow during the outing: keep the shop talk to a minimum. We are never not nurses, but reserve the outing time as bonding and fun time. After all, you're not clocked in for work.

Educate New Nurses on Self-care Strategies

New nurses may believe that in order to be a good nurse they must give 110% of themselves at all times and forget that nursing is not a perfect profession. New nurses may be at greater risk for making mistakes if they feel stressed and are not taking care of their needs while also caring for patients. Although the media sometimes portrays nurses as SUPERHEROES (but of course!), we are human with human needs of rest, relaxation, and forgiveness of ourselves when we make a mistake. And one of the best self-care strategy tools a new nurse can have is not holding herself/himself to an impossible standard of perfection.

I hope you have enjoyed these tips and can put some of them to use on your nursing unit. What other tips have you employed that have been successful with your nursing team?

As a keynote speaker, bestselling author and Nurse's Week program host, Elizabeth partners with hospitals, organizations, associations, and nursing groups to help transform the field of nursing from the inside out. In her bestselling book, ‘Nursing from Within‘, Elizabeth supports nurses to make those inner shifts that are required to more fully enjoy our nursing careers. Find out more and connect with Elizabeth at www.elizabethscala.com.

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Nurses don't need management to tell them to eat a banana and focus on the patient. Forget the breath of fresh air.. it would take 15 minutes to get outside.

Nurses don't need pizza parties.

Nurses need adequate staffing and their legally required break time.

Here.I.Stand specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro.

BDTD is spot on.

Honestly you lost me here:

On those shifts where breaks are few or nonexistent, taking 30 seconds to get some fresh air, even if it's just sticking your head out the door

I think my cortisol levels are UP just at the thought of someone thinking that 30 seconds outside is a reasonable alternative to DINNER.

Rose_Queen specializes in OR, education.

I expect my management to provide adequate staffing including enough to get those deserved breaks with rare exception- and not related to short staffing. A mass casualty incident? Needing to skip a break is understandable. Being offered a lunch break at 1425 when I leave at 1530 because there's one person to give all the ORs lunch? Not acceptable. These ideas only serve to maintain the status quo of not staffing adequately and not providing for legally entitled breaks.

traumaRUs specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

While I agree that all nurses should get their full lunch/break times, sometimes that is not possible. These are good suggestions for the times when staffing isn't optimal or your break is delayed.

Edited by traumaRUs

Nurses don't need management to tell them to eat a banana and focus on the patient. Forget the breath of fresh air.. it would take 15 minutes to get outside.

Nurses don't need pizza parties.

Nurses need adequate staffing and their legally required break time.

I can't even make it to the pizza parties or events going on during my shift, I'm happy if I can take an uninterrupted break to eat my lunch, which never really happens. I average 4 phone calls per lunch break.

As for the 30 sec of fresh air, I'm on the 6th floor of my hospital...taking the elevator down to the main floor and then getting out of the hospital would take at least 10 min, I might as well just eat my lunch at that point.

While I agree that all nurses should get their full lunch/break times, sometimes that is not possible. These are good suggestions for the times when staffing isn't optimal or your break is delayed.

This discussion is not about staffing issues.. or "delayed" breaks. We are talking about" On those shifts where breaks are few or nonexistent".

Again.. do not feed me a banana .. or a pizza in the future.

Are you serious about taking a 30-second break which would involve 10 minutes of waiting for elevators...just to poke my nose out the door and snort up some "fresh air"? If I had that kind of time I'd rather inhale my actual lunch or go to the bathroom! Bonding at the beach with my coworkers, taking in dinner and a movie, hiking, ICE SKATING??? After 3 12's sometimes I wish to never lay eyes on them again. And the snack thing: the pocket of my lab jacket and my locker are full of goodies. Figured that one out on my own many years ago.

tnbutterfly - Mary specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

OK...... Why all the negativity at the suggestions the writer offered??? If these don't work for you....fine. What are some things you have tried that DO work for you to prevent burnout and deal with job-related stress? Do you try to bond with your co-workers or are you happy to be more of a loner?

I don't know if you are talking to me or not, Tnbutterfly, but I've spent the majority of my nearly 37 year nursing care in CVICU/open heart. I work well with my coworkers, have never been "burned out," and don't dread coming in to work. I work under stress, of course, but it's manageable stress. What I don't do is devote my sacred at home time to socializing with my coworkers, who don't want to hang out with me on their off days any more than I want to with them. I am fully focused on my patients at work, but home time is my time.

tnbutterfly - Mary specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

I don't know if you are talking to me or not, Tnbutterfly, but I've spent the majority of my nearly 37 year nursing care in CVICU/open heart. I work well with my coworkers, have never been "burned out," and don't dread coming in to work. I work under stress, of course, but it's manageable stress. What I don't do is devote my sacred at home time to socializing with my coworkers, who don't want to hang out with me on their off days any more than I want to with them. I am fully focused on my patients at work, but home time is my time.

I wasn't speaking to only you. But thank you for elaborating and sharing. I agree that home time is sacred. But, I guess dealing with stress is not a one size fits all.

Nurse Beth specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

I like hearing about the topic of resiliency, and it made me stop and wonder.."Am I resilient?" And then I had to realize that for me, self care and managing stress are a part of resiliency, but there's more.

I am resilient because I panicked through Chemistry but still went on to pass my nursing courses at the top of my class.

I am resilient because I know what it's like to have a child with a serious neurobiological disorder who will never be cured and a son who has been in jail and through the daily heartbreak and grief, I can still find joy and laughter.

I am resilient because I have been passed up for promotions, and given awards. Married and divorced and devastated and yet found love a second time. I have survived many situations and people in my life that were unfair and hurtful, and forgave.

I know I am strong from within. I don't know what's ahead for me- certainly more joy, more stressors, more grief- because that's life. I will bend but not break and I am still here.

I am wise, I am powerful, I am resilient.

traumaRUs specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

Excellent NurseBeth!

What works for one to relieve stress and make unbearable situations bearable may not work for someone else.

Interesting topic. I find a big part of being resilient is building a satisfying life outside of work. Work may drain my energy after a long day, but my hobbies, projects and people I love builds me back up.

Rose_Queen specializes in OR, education.

What are some things you have tried that DO work for you to prevent burnout and deal with job-related stress? Do you try to bond with your co-workers or are you happy to be more of a loner?

I've found that I prefer to leave work at work. Sure, we can bond on the job, but off the job I prefer other things. My friends that I spend time with out of work come from other walks of life- teacher, SAHM, business owner. It provides a variety and we don't talk shop, as happened frequently when I did meet up with coworkers outside of work hours. I wouldn't call myself a loner, just well-rounded.

ElizabethScala1 specializes in psychiatry, community health, wellness.

Thanks, Beth. I think you bring good points up. We are all resilient in our own ways. And what is important is that we reflect upon this and celebrate it. Great share, thank you!

ElizabethScala1 specializes in psychiatry, community health, wellness.

I love this. Leaving work at work. I teach a tool called the Boundary Ritual. Since nurses work with our hands, hearts, and words... it can be hard to find the "off" switch. Having something that separates work from life helps us build resiliency! Thanks for the comment.

ElizabethScala1 specializes in psychiatry, community health, wellness.

YES! RNperdiem, this is a great suggestion. Having a life outside of work is a great way to stay fully charged so that we can meet the demands of the work day. Thank you!!

ElizabethScala1 specializes in psychiatry, community health, wellness.

Thank you traumaRUs! You bring great awareness to this post. While adequate staffing and safe ratios are things that all nurses deserve... some of these larger decisions are outside of our individual hands. Thank you for pointing out that the suggestions in this article can be used when staffing is not ideal and we just need something quick to help in that moment. Appreciate your comment!

ElizabethScala1 specializes in psychiatry, community health, wellness.

Great point tnbutterfly, BSN, RN. This is exactly what I was thinking when I wrote this post. Sure, all of these tips may not work EVERY day for EVERY one. However, they are simple things that are intended to not take a lot of time. If you cannot get outside for a breath of fresh air, maybe going into the break area and sitting quietly with the breath. If I suggested that, I am sure I would have heard how that won't work too. Thanks for asking what does work for folks! Appreciate it.

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