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Topics About 'Stress Management'.

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  1. FALSE! We know a lot more now about the effects of lack of sleep on our health and the news is not pretty. First I have to recollect my own years of night shift nursing and the toll it took on me. Fighting to stay awake all night when my circadian rhythm was telling me to sleep, not thinking clearly enough during the night due to fatigue which could possibly lead to miscalculations, forcing me to take a sleep med daily so I could "sleep the daylight hours away", overwhelming desire to fall asleep as I drove home from work, and the disruption in my home and social life with me gone every night. When you really spell it out, working nights is not healthy, puts nurses at great risk and we don't receive full disclosure of the risks when we take the job! Did you know that there are a lot of quality of life benefits from getting a good night's rest? Cell renewal and rejuvenation Management of stress hormones Gut health Weight management Chronic disease prevention Cognitive functioning Seems like sleep is pretty important, don't you think? On the other hand, this is what happens when you don't get enough sleep. Shift Work and Long Hours Shift work and long work hours increase the risk for reduced performance on the job, obesity, injuries, and a wide range of chronic diseases. In addition, fatigue-related errors could harm patients. Fatigued nurses also endanger others during their commute to and from work. Negative Impacts of Shiftwork and Long Work Hours : Rehabilitation Nursing Journal Women who worked on rotating night shifts for more than five years were up to 11% more likely to have died early compared to those who never worked these shifts. Those working more than 15 years on rotating night shifts had a 38% higher risk of dying from heart disease than nurses who only worked during the day. Rotating night shifts were linked to 25% higher risk of dying from lung cancer and 33% greater risk of colon cancer death. The increased risk of lung cancer could be attributed to a higher rate of smoking among night shift workers. The population of nurses with the longest rotating night shifts also shared risk factors that endangered their health: they were heavier on average than their day-working counterparts, more likely to smoke and have high blood pressure, and more likely to have diabetes and elevated cholesterol. Shift Work: Night Shifts Linked to Early Death | Time When I worked full-time nights it was the only job available so I did not have a choice. But I never knew how at risk I was for health issues. My mother was a full-time night supervisor for over 30 years and her life was shortened by heart disease, diabetes and obesity which fits the above profile. So how do we counter this situation? First step is to recognize we have a problem. To their credit, the ANA has a position paper with institutional recommendations. But the one that stands out for me is the recommendation that YOU have control over. Employers should encourage nurses to be proactive about managing their health and rest, including getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day; manage stress effectively; develop healthy nutrition and exercise habits; and use naps according to employer policy. This is where WELLNESS comes in, which is my life's work. I wonder if it is because of seeing my mother suffer from the health consequences of night nursing and I didn't want to go down that same path. How To Get Better Sleep When You Work Nights STEP 1 Assess whether you are a "night owl" or not and pursue the work hours most in line with your circadian rhythm. STEP 2 Negotiate 8 hour shifts rather than 12 hour shifts. Negative Impacts of Shiftwork and Long Work Hours STEP 3 Try to achieve uninterrupted sleep of 7-8 hours by: Darkening the room really dark Wear a mask over your eyes Turn on a white noise machine (like gentle rain) to drown out sounds that could wake you up Use Melatonin, your body's sleep hormone if you need a sleep aide Prepare for sleep by stopping caffeine 4 hours before you go to bed Indulge in a nice warm bath before you go to bed STEP 4 Set a schedule for nighttime eating where you eat every 2 hours. Bring to work 2 healthy snacks and a big salad that is loaded with fresh vegetables, some fruit and protein (chicken breast, hard boiled eggs, cheese, etc). Stay away from processed foods and follow a low-glycemic eating plan to prevent weight gain. Here's a great website. STEP 5 Enhance your nutrition with high quality supplements to give you more energy. Include multivitamin/multimineral combination, pure fish oil, vitamin D. STEP 6 Drink 8 glasses of water during the night. The exercise you get going to the bathroom several times will keep you awake. STEP 7 Create an exercise routine that you "love", energizes you, and you will do every day after you get up from sleeping. (Walking, Cardio, Stretching, etc.) STEP 8 Meditate or do a moving meditation like Yoga or Tai Chi daily to get centered and reduce stress. Check out Tapping or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) which you can do in the night to manage stress. STEP 9 Add fun to your day even at work to help your body release endorphins and you will feel better. STEP 10 Write down everything you are grateful for at the end of each shift to ensure that you appreciate your accomplishments and start shifting your energy from stress and negativity to a more positive outlook - and that will help you sleep better too! So what are you willing to do to get a better night's sleep? Or what are you already doing that is working? Please share.
  2. If you’re a college student, you’re most likely being pelted by life stressors. The article, Spring Stressors You Can Expect, provides insight into unique sources of student stress and the related short and long-term consequences. Unfortunately, consequences can be life-threatening when high levels of stress are experienced over a long time. These include increased rates of depression, anxiety, cardiovascular disease and other conditions that significantly impact daily life. Learn How To Manage Stress Of College Life Nursing school brings its own unique set of stressors. Just thinking about the huge amount of material that nursing students must learn and retain is enough to cause cold sweats. There is also the added pressure of clinicals and applying what has been learned in “real life”. Add in the demands of coursework and your mental, physical and emotional energy can easily slip away. There are several ways to sharpen your coping skills when faced with mounting stressors. Let’s take a look at some strategies for self-care that may ease the pressures. STEP 1: Eat Well Eating healthy while in college is a challenge. Students often fall into bad eating habits due: Stress eating Skipping meals Fast food meals Vending machine “meals” Financial hardship With a healthy diet, you can feel, cope and perform better. Ready to get started? Check out these helpful tips from Clarke University. STEP 2: Get Moving Regular exercise not only improves your physical health, but also promotes: Improved memory retention Increased focus and concentration Boosts mood Relieves stress Now, you may be thinking “how am I going to fit exercise into my already time-crunched schedule?”. You can start by reading tips in the article, How to Find Time to Exercise in College. STEP 3: Don’t Depend on Caffeine For many, caffeine is necessary for the night study session or a quick boost of energy. It’s readily available in the form of coffee, tea, energy drinks, and even chocolate. But, relying on caffeine as a stimulant can actually slow you down and make studying that much harder. Consider the following: Caffeine dependence, withdrawal and toxicity do occur Withdrawal symptoms include headache, fatigue and irritability Caffeine can lead to sleep problems and prolong sleep deprivation It’s a myth that caffeine has no real side effects. STEP 4: Set Realistic Expectations It’s difficult to juggle school, work, responsibilities and a personal life without a great deal of stress. Setting realistic expectations can prevent you from having your plate too full. STEP 5: Don’t Procrastinate Have you ever put off an assignment because it wasn’t immediately due? It’s so tempting to put off coursework or studying until “a little later”. The problem is ..."later" comes sooner than you wanted and an amount of stress occurs when assignments, exams and clinicals are scheduled around the same time. Try keeping a detailed calendar of important due dates for all your classes. Seeing the big picture will help you avoid deadline anxiety. STEP 6: Have An Outlet We all need a stress outlet and a way to decompress. Your stress outlet should be something you enjoy, such as exercise, spending time with friends and family, getting a massage and hiking. STEP 7: Know When to Get Help Unfortunately, stress is unavoidable. When we experience high levels of stress for extended periods of time, it can be detrimental to our mental, emotional and physical health. If you are struggling with stress that is interfering with your daily life and studies, consider these resources: Campus counseling services Substance abuse prevention hotlines Academic advisors Suicide prevention hotline Physician or therapist You can also simply reach out to someone you trust, such as a friend, family member or faculty member. Resources A Student's Guide to Managing Stress What tips do you have to share for reducing stress while in college?
  3. Carol Ebert

    Cultivating Winter Stillness

    I have a chronic condition that has plagued me for about 2 years called Tracheal Stenosis (Idiopathic Subglottic Stenosis). Upon seeing an ENT specialist after experiencing shortness of breath when I tried to make speeches, wheezing, and having difficulty expelling mucus from my lungs, the diagnosis was obtained using a scope into the trachea. I got to see my beautiful insides, but the entry to the trachea had a narrowed opening which was causing my symptoms. And what is it caused by? Who knows. And only white women have this, and not very many I might add. Leave it to me to be a public speaker who now can’t speak publicly! Well, the good news is it can be resolved (temporarily) through a surgical procedure that makes small snips in the opening and then the opening is stretched, and I’m good as new. However, it seems to be a repeat procedure approximately every year. And here I am right now scheduled for surgery (for the 4th time) in the next 3 weeks. Yes I am frustrated because it can’t be cured no matter how healthy I am - and I am Nurse Wellness and have been a role model for wellness for over 40 years. All those wellness strategies I live my life by still couldn’t prevent this. And, so I will survive and do what I need to do to keep on my path as a wellness educator. So how does this tie into STILLNESS? I find that all I can do right now is go into stillness and the fact that it coincides with the Winter Solstice seems to be no accident. I have found that late December through January are cocooning times for my business and for life in the countryside of Minnesota – where we are usually snowbound - which lends itself to being still. Looks like the universe is giving me a reason to be still since I generally have difficulty cultivating that trait. Just to further make that point, a good friend gave me an “Energizer Bunny” stuffed animal for Christmas because that is my M.O. as I am always on the go with teaching. Now let’s go a bit deeper to better understand what surrounds the Winter Solstice. December 21 is the shortest day and longest night of the year. The winter solstice is a time of quiet energy, where you get the opportunity to look within yourself and focus on what you want and need. It's a time to set goals and intentions for the coming year, to examine and let go of our past, and to make changes within ourselves. The solstice is essentially tied to a personal awakening. What Does The Winter Solstice Mean Spiritually? It's Celebrated In Tons Of Religions And Cultures. Nature remembers what we humans have forgotten every cycle must return to stillness, silence, the dark; every out-breath requires an in-breath; every outer endeavor turns back inward to its origins, its center, and begins again; from death comes new life, and from the darkest night, the new dawn is born. A Winter Solstice Mystery: Beauty In the Belly of the Dark Great words of wisdom. But how can we apply the teachings of the Winter Solstice and capitalize on the stillness of this part of the year? Here are some strategies to consider. Solstice is an opportunity to look within yourself and focus on what you want and need Practice “doing nothing” by meditating, visualizing or just sitting in silence with your eyes closed. Just do this for very short periods of time at first to get used to being still and then extend the time. Focus on what you want to have happen this upcoming year that will be fulfilling and pleasurable. Solstice is a time to set goals and intentions for the coming year Once you decide what you want to have happen, write it down as a goal. By December 31, 2020, I will have accomplished: The steps I need to accomplish this goal are: The dates for accomplishment of each step are: Solstice is a time to examine and let go of our past Write down on paper all the past beliefs that have stood in your way from having all you were meant to have in life. Crumple up the paper into a ball and burn it. Thank the burning ball for all the lessons you have learned from those roadblocks Feel the sense of release as they disappear into ashes Solstice is a time to start making changes within ourselves Commit to one personal change you want to make during the new year Determine how you will monitor your personal progress (Journaling, marking on your calendar daily or weekly, chose the method that works for you) Solstice is essentially tied to a personal awakening and the above steps fit right into what most of us already do as we embark on a new year. We set intentions and goals and just forge ahead. This time, however, consider incorporating the STILLNESS factor into your daily life as a way to monitor your progress and keep yourself on track. And this is the perfect reminder for me as well. Once I am post-op I could jump right back in the fast lane with my voice intact and not slow down until next year when it will predictably slow me down to stillness once more. Or I can take time out for stillness along the way to monitor and appreciate my personal growth in an ongoing way. Now, how about you? How can you incorporate stillness in your day – week – month – year?
  4. Carol Ebert

    Holiday Stress Busters

    Sure, you might have said last year I’ve got to do things differently and yet here it is again in your face. Tips to Decrease Holiday Stress Of course, some of you have already made some great changes to simplify, slow down and put the holiday in perspective, (I know I have) and I would love to have you share your strategies at the end of this post. But for the rest of you, here are some tips that might help right now bring more peace and less stress. Step 1 – What prep needs to be done? Look over this list and select the most important things that need to be done and delegate the rest. Try to select only 5 things. I know this list is exhausting to read, but you don’t have to do everything. creating the gift list making or buying decorations decorating putting up outside decorations prep for holiday travel making family advent preparations planning family reunions getting ready for relatives holiday baking cooking for family reunions planning parties inviting friends to the party shopping for the party cleaning for the party cooking for the party cleaning up after the party buying or making cards writing notes on cards making or buying stockings buying stocking stuffers making travel plans volunteering for charity helping out at church helping out at school holiday activities at work buying or cutting down a tree decorating the tree shopping for gifts making gifts buying gift wrapping supplies wrapping gifts mailing gifts cleaning up after the holiday writing thank-yous planning holiday menus getting kids to write thank-yous putting away decorations special grocery shopping disposing of the tree taking down decorations other _______________ other _______________ Step 2 – What do you really value the most over the holidays and want to have time for it? Check those you want to have happen and decide how all the busy-ness from all the tasks above will affect them. Feel free to cross more tasks off the list above so you have more time for those below. Spend enjoyable time with my immediate family Reunite with my relatives Celebrate the birth of Christ Create a festive, beautiful home environment Show my love and generosity through gifts Remember the poor, lonely and needy Be active in my spiritual community Celebrate with friends Relax and be renewed Step 3 - How important is self-care for you over the holidays? Review this list and check the items that reflect your reality. Then decide whether you need to make some adjustments. Have less free time Get less sleep Get less exercise Eat more sweets and consume more calories in general Drink more alcohol Have more tasks and responsibilities Have less time to be alone Am more worried about money Spend less relaxed time with friends Have less relaxed time with my family Have more responsibilities at work Step 4 – Implement Stress-busting Strategies to regain valuable time for YOU! Problem: Thinking that you still have to please your long-gone relatives and bake every cookie from scratch. Having to bake 12 dozen perfect cookies for the Cookie Swap! Solution: Go to a fine baking establishment and pay for some cookies made from scratch that are probably better than yours! I’ll cost you less time and money. Problem: Thinking you are superhuman and wearing yourself out shopping for the perfect gifts for everyone when all they really want is a gift card. Solution: Make one trip out to get gift cards for everyone and they’ll love you for it, and they won’t have to stand in the return lines after the holidays. Problem: Creating a holiday blood sugar rampage by eating all those cookies, candies and cakes, and wondering why you are so exhausted and can’t fit into that holiday outfit. Solution: Load up the frig with healthy snacks that your family can graze on. Prepare healthy fun snacks to serve and give away as gifts. Problem: Driving on the roads and shopping in the stores just when everyone else decides to do the same thing. Solution: Go OUT when everyone else is IN! Get over the adrenalin rush of shopping in a frenzy with large crowds of people – your body and mind will love you for it! Problem: Having to rummage through 100 different “stuffing” recipes and then discovering they all have the same ingredients. Solution: Buy a bag of instant stuffing mix and tell everyone it is your “secret formula”. Problem: Going to everyone’s house over the holidays, including yours, and having the same holiday dinner over and over again. Solution: Try serving an old fashioned 4th of July picnic meal for your holiday celebration. Celebrate July at Christmas instead of Christmas in July. Hopefully, this holiday review is helpful and a wakeup call so you can truly enjoy the holiday season with all the peace and joy you deserve.
  5. If I was standing on stage in front of an audience of nurses and said something like this: raise your hand if you have been victim to a toxic environment, addicted to anything: i.e. alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, food, sugar, social media, gaming, or your phone, to name a few, depressed, lonely or, been fired for your lousy/threatening attitude; I would venture to say, most if not all of us would raise their hands including me. As a matter of fact, I just described the first 15 years of my nursing career. You may not all be overachievers like me but most of us have been subject to some of these things and they cause us to suffer in a myriad of ways that we are totally unaware of. If you are sick of dealing with depression, addiction, anxiety and other mental health issues, poor health, lack of sleep, chronic pain and multiple other physical ailments, relationship issues, feeling unfilled, unmotivated and or watching your dreams evaporate; that’s a list of the things I coach/write about so you are in the right place. Believe it or not, no matter where you are on that list the cause of all of those things is nearly universal for nurses and it’s called chronic stress. We must learn better ways of coping with stress or we will continue to lose ourselves in the quicksand that our lives and careers have become. I think most of us know that stress can be effective in our lives and we need a certain amount of it to live and grow happily. However, when stress becomes chronic, it’s no longer an effective tool in our lives. According to the American Psychological Association in an article titled Understanding Chronic Stress; "Chronic stress can occur in response to everyday stressors that are ignored or poorly managed, as well as to exposure to traumatic events. The consequences of chronic stress are serious, particularly as it contributes to anxiety and depression. People who suffer from depression and anxiety are at twice the risk for heart disease than people without these conditions. Additionally, research has shown that there is an association between both acute and chronic stress and a person's abuse of addictive substances." Before I get to my 5 ways to overcome chronic stress I want to give you an introduction to what we’re going to do with these 5 things. I love writing to you, my people, but I also want to coach you. This stuff saved my career and my life so I want to share it with others. Human beings learn in three ways: through our senses, by practicing it, and by repeating it to others. To put it my favorite way I learned in the military, see one, do one, teach one. Each one of these 5 solutions has a tool to help you incorporate it into your life. 1 - Habits are Magical Tools Habits are magical tools that help you get your brain on board with what you’re doing to improve your life and meet your goals. Before we start building new ones we need to find out the ones you already have by, preforming an inventory. Tool #1 Habit inventory- the best thing about habits is you don’t have to think about them but sometimes they get away from you and can be ineffective without you even being aware that you’re doing them. The inventory is a way to find out which habits you have and whether they are ineffective, effective or neutral, this is just an inventory, no judgment allowed. Part 2 Now that you know what habits you already have, you can start to make small changes a little at a time that will build up into amazing powerful routines. I like to start with the morning routine for two reasons: everything you do in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day so if you win the morning you win the day! 2 - Control is a Natural Human Instinct Control is a natural human instinct but there are some things we have NO control over and trying to control them is contributing to your stress. This tool is an amazing way to learn to differentiate between things you can and cannot control and how to deal with both. 3 - Eating Affects You Physically and Mentally Eating affects you physically and mentally and the effects are not always positive. If you want to elevate your mood, think more clearly, be healthier or have more energy to do the things you want, upgrading your nutrition plan will move the needle in ways you never dreamed possible even if you consider yourself healthy. What you eat effects more than your weight. This tool will help you listen to what your body needs and act accordingly. Your body speaks to you in a form of biofeedback mechanisms. You can judge how to care for yourself by how you Sleep, if you’re constantly Hungry, what your Mood is, your Energy level and food Cravings. This tool is called the SHMEC scale. 4 - Movement and Exercise are Not the Same Movement and exercise are not the same things. They also do much more important things throughout your day than burn calories. We were built to move not to sit around all day except for the 1 hour you hit the gym for a workout. Consistent movement throughout the day makes us happier, clears our brains and balances our hormones. Having an active job counts as regular movement, such as floor nursing but movement is meant to be balanced, therefore you could be doing too much which can throw you off as well. I am not knocking exercise but we need to use it as a hormone balancer, not a calorie burner and that takes knowing what your body needs at all times. We will use the same tool as #3 for movement and exercise. 5 - Accountability and Integrity Accountability and integrity with the person you spend the most time with, yes, you. My hope is that now that you have read down to number five it has dawned on you that you can win over depression, fear, loneliness, not feeling good enough, your health, and anything else you feel is holding you back by making the choice to take action. This tool is one that I learned in early recovery from addiction. This is the evolved version since I have been using it for almost 20 years. It’s called the accountability mirror. It is designed to help you learn to be your own best friend, to trust yourself again, to show compassion to that amazing person in the reflection, and above all fall in love with the person in the mirror again or perhaps for the first time. Making changes in your life can be overwhelming but there is no need to do all of it at once. Small changes will help you feel better and start to pile up before you know it, creating an amazing lifestyle for a vibrant, healthy, fulfilled life. Going forward, each tool will be described and you will have daily activities available to you here.
  6. J.Adderton

    10 Don'ts For Less Holiday Pressure

    The pressure of the holiday season seems to begin building earlier each year. From holiday anticipation to New Year dread, a full range of emotions hits us before the first leaves fall. We barely make it through the marketing bombardment of all things pumpkin spice when the holiday displays go up in stores. Just think a minute about all the messages telling you how the holidays “should be”. A few that come immediately to my mind is commercials, social media, movies, family and long-standing traditions. It is possible to relieve the pressure and frustration of the holiday season. Here are 10 things to consider not doing this season to keep the focus on what is most important to you. Don’t Suffer From FOMO I have a serious fear of missing out (FOMO) on certain holiday activities. For example, I don’t really want to go shopping on Black Friday. But, a little voice inside my head tells me if I don’t go- I will be missing out on something I am “supposed” to do as part of the holiday “experience”. Escape the trap of FOMO by letting yourself off the hook. You may not have to decorate the perfect tree, bake cookies for your co-workers, host the neighborhood party and send 50 Christmas cards to your closest friends and family. This holiday season try letting go of what you feel you are supposed to do with a revised list of what you truly find meaningful. Don’t Stress Over the Perfect Gift Stores would love for you to believe the perfect gift can be found on their expensive shelves. But thoughtful gifts usually carry more meaning than short-lived fads that result in credit bills to start the new year. Set a budget that doesn’t stretch your resources and stick to it. Try these alternatives Donate to a charity in honor of someone Give homemade gifts Share a memory by giving a photo Give the gift of your time Don’t Eat Every Treat It’s really hard to pass on those sweets, appetizers and goodies that are a part of our holiday celebrations. But, with a little willpower, you can avoid making the annual “lose the holiday weight” resolution on New Year’s Day. Just use moderation and you can still enjoy all the delicious seasonal eats. Don’t Forget Your Rose-Colored Glasses In movies, families often reconcile, undo wrongs and heal old wounds around the Christmas table. Unfortunately, it is not this easy in the real world. We often set our expectations too high for family and friends to meet. Try setting aside grievances during the holidays and address when the timing is more appropriate. Keep in mind that others may be caught in the stress of the season too. Try cutting them a little slack when they do (and they will) fall short of your high expectations. Don’t Drink Too Much There are several reasons why we may drink more alcohol during the holidays Social gatherings and parties Depression and/or loneliness Increased stress levels Merrymaking can easily lead to regretting what you did at last night’s work party. Try keeping a “big picture” of your true alcohol intake to help you keep it in moderation. Overindulgence can lead to increased risk-taking behaviors and worsened depression. Don’t Forget Exercise Exercise is a great way to tackle holiday stress by improving mood and boosting energy levels. Research also shows regular exercise can reduce anger, tension and fatigue. Don’t Try to be Perfect Remember, perfect holidays do not exist. Even when you pour all your time, energy and money into your holiday preparations, everything will not go as expected. Be realistic and expect hiccups in even the best laid plans. Don’t Live Up to the Hype Do you live in a neighborhood where every house goes all out in decorating? If so, you may be feeling the stress of keeping up with the outdoor wreaths, lights and inflatables displayed by your neighbors. Before you spend the time and money on elaborate outdoor decorations, ask yourself “is this important to me?”. If the answer is no, let it go. Don’t Forget What is Most Important Try making a list of the people and traditions that are most important to your holiday celebration. This will help you stay focused on what matters most. Don’t Forget to Ask for Help This may be one of the hardest things to do. We don’t want to put anyone out during this busy time, even when we become overwhelmed. Likely, there are people in your life who want to help and are ready. They are likely just waiting for you to take the step to let them know what you need. If your depression or stress begins to impact your daily life, reach out for professional help. Let us hear from you. What have you found helpful in reducing holiday pressure? For more tips, check out this resourceful handout. Managing Holiday Stress Handout
  7. tinyRN72

    How Mindfulness Saved My Career

    In a way, I really hate to tell this story, but I also feel that if it helps just one other person, then it is worth it. So, here I go! First, allow me to provide a bit of background. I have several years of nursing under my belt. I have always wanted to work for myself, and I have, just not as a nurse. My husband and I started a holistic wellness center about a year ago. For my part, I offer health education classes, meditation, and weight loss. My husband offers coaching, mindfulness living, and stress management. When we started this adventure, I really didn’t know what mindfulness was and had no experience with it, but I go to his classes every week, because it is my company and I should know what we sell. Now for the part I hate to admit to: starting about 18 months ago, I felt like my career was ending. I hated it, but I still loved it, so I didn’t give up. The day-to-day job was becoming so stressful! I felt anxious on my days off, constantly dreaded going to work, and I didn’t want to do it anymore. However, I still loved caring for patients. That part never gets old to me, I find peace in it, and it is in my heart to do this work. It was the other stuff: short staffing, near impossible patient ratios, being constantly nagged about whiteboards, being forced to attend interdisciplinary rounds that occur in the middle of med-pass on a step-down unit where we once had 4 patients, but now have 6, and so many other things. I was overwhelmed and unhappy, and I’m ashamed to say that I became very angry. I’m even more ashamed to admit that my behavior was becoming unacceptable. If I’d been my boss, I would have fired me. I was always negative; that “you’re getting a new patient” call set me off and I spoke quite disrespectfully to my charge nurse more than once; and I used the excuse of “venting” to justify it all. It was not OK and at some point, I knew that I had to get a grip on it before I got fired, or I had to find a new way to earn money. No other job seemed acceptable: I am a nurse. This is where my husband’s Mindfulness classes came in (just in time). Defining Mindfulness There are many ways to define Mindfulness, but my husband likes this definition: How Does this Apply to Life? To Nursing? I started paying attention to the thoughts that ran through my mind every day. The chatter sounded something like this: How am I supposed to have time for all of this? What do they expect me to do? I am only one person who can only do one thing at a time! When is enough enough? How can I work with my phone ringing all the time? I just want to walk out of here right now! This is ridiculous! I can’t! I just can’t! This place doesn’t care about nurses or patients – they only care about money! Why do so many nurses put up with this! (This is family-friendly website, so I left out the worse stuff and edited a lot for the sake of keeping things clean.) What Can Mindfulness Teach Us? Mindfulness taught me to look at these thoughts with acceptance, and without judgment. Just looking at them made me more aware of what my self-talk was doing to my head. The negativity, the complete self-centeredness of it was appalling to me. I didn’t want to be this angry person, stomping around like I was the only one who is busy, or getting admits before my discharges were done. What I found is that I really didn’t like me anymore, I was sort of toxic. More than that, Mindfulness taught me to be curious about these thoughts. I Began to Ask ... Is this helpful? Does it make anything better? Did I ask for these thoughts? What triggers these thoughts? How do I react to these thoughts? How do I want to react to these thoughts? Asking these questions gave me power over the mean voice in my head that was spewing vulgarities about every little inconvenience. Taming the Beast It didn’t happen overnight, but I tamed the beast that had taken up residence in my head. Mindfulness allowed me to examine my thoughts, dissect them, and cut out what was not serving me. It started by helping to see the thought and pause before reacting. This allows for time to decide how you want to react. Mindfulness is an ongoing practice, and this is just a tiny slice of it. But this little bit was life-changing for me. I feel like the scales are balanced again. Yes, I still feel frustration, I still get busy and need to juggle things, but my brain doesn’t interfere anymore. It’s been about 6 months and those nasty little thoughts that made my day hell rarely pop up these days, but when they do, I pause and I decide how I will react. No more knee-jerk fits of frustration! I feel so much less stressed. It’s nice to just take things in stride. Of course, there is a bit more to it than this. Mindfulness gave me a new mindset of being open and accepting of what comes without judgment and without wanting it to be different (ex: getting a new patient when you are already really busy.) When I mastered this, the unwanted self-talk was hushed. This also works when being stuck in traffic, with rude encounters at the grocery store, and many other situations. What I found is that my reaction of being angry about these little things that I have no control over, just kept feeding the angry beast. Over time, not getting wrapped up in these thoughts left it to starve. I’m so thankful my husband teaches this class and my only regret is that I didn’t listen to him sooner!
  8. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    How Technology Use Can Impact Our Health

    Technology has become immersed in most areas of our life, and that of our patients. This can make some tasks easier, but it can also have negative implications when you can’t, or don’t want to, step away from the screen. Although there are many positive benefits to the use of technology, ongoing use, and spending an extended time staring at a computer or phone screen, can have negative effects. Often it may be difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate the extent of use of technology since many daily tasks, and more positions, require the use of technology. Increasing awareness of how ongoing use of technology can impact our lives, and our patients, can assist in reducing exacerbation of some ailments, or offer a chance to suggest modifications, or provide preventative education. Physical Effects Vision Extended time spent staring at a computer or phone screen can result in eye strain, blurred vision, or dry eyes. Some methods to alleviate discomfort include: Keep eye drops on hand, rest your eyes for brief intervals—and don’t forget to blink Ensure that lighting is adequate and intermittently change the distance you’re focusing on Increase the text size on your screen Pain and Strain If you’re working on a laptop, be sure to put it at the correct height. Avoid looking down at the screen and putting additional strain on your neck or shoulders or this may contribute to discomfort, or tension headaches. Other things to consider include: Try not to hold your cell phone in an awkward angle between head and neck Evaluate your workspace and desk for proper ergonomics Be mindful of the risk of repetitive strain injury from typing, clicking the mouse, or staring at the computer screen Inactivity The risks associated with too much sitting has prompted more people to invest in standing desks. Most nurses encourage patients to exercise more to decrease risks of obesity, diabetes, and heart problems, so this can support patient education. A few ways to reduce the time sitting, and increase exercise, include: Set a timer, fitness app, or watch, as a reminder to take a break, or to stand and walk around Park farther away from your destination, or take the stairs when you can Stand when you have the opportunity, or walk around your office while taking a phone call Hearing Headphones and ear buds provide a convenient way to listen to music or audiobooks, catch up on podcasts, or have a private conversation. Ongoing exposure to loud volumes can result in hearing loss or tinnitus, so a few ways to protect your hearing include: Turn down the volume Limit the length of time of use Put it on speakerphone Social Effects Some people’s fear of missing out has left them unable to unplug, or tune out the need to constantly check their screen for updates. It may also lead to feelings of inferiority, or social isolation from relying on cyber friendships. Technology has made it possible to stay connected with distant family, provide telehealth for patients in rural areas, and offer convenient access to information. It’s also made us become more impatient, desire immediate gratification, and become more easily distracted. Too much multitasking has left many unable to focus, or it may reduce our productivity instead of improving upon it. A few ways to practice, and educate, on creating better technology habits include: Reduce overall screen time by prioritizing notifications, or set designated times to check emails, and social media Set automatic messages to discourage distracted driving, or interrupting sleep Turn off reminders for incoming messages to increase the ability to focus Set parental controls on phones, and check them periodically, for cyber bullying, inappropriate content, or other risks Remember that the social media presence others create isn’t always accurate to reduce feelings of jealousy or inadequacy, or create a gratitude journal to outline positive aspects in life Creating a Balance Technology has many positive benefits. It’s provided us with methods to provide less invasive healthcare, expand treatment options, and increase opportunities for long-term health. It’s also offered convenience in our personal and professional life for scheduling appointments, gaining information, and reducing tedious tasks. Most of us aren’t going to eliminate the use of technology. The key is to develop a balance of technology use with our life, and increase awareness of the potential negative effects for ourselves, and our patients, and then work to reduce them. How Do You Balance Your Technology Use?
  9. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Make a Not to Do List

    Many of us spend the day counting the hours until our shift is done, or until we have a day off to focus on our personal To-Do List. But once this long-awaited time arrives, often it’s never enough. We may spend most of our spare time crossing off the things that we need to do, leaving little time for what we want to do. Often there’s no better feeling than accomplishing everything on your To Do List, although sometimes that list seems never-ending. What if that list was shorter, making it easier to reach those goals? What if we narrowed down our To Do List by focusing on what not to do? Then perhaps instead of being controlled by what we feel we have to do, we can spend more of our free time doing what we want to do. Reevaluate Your To Do List There’s no doubt that there are many tedious tasks that we have to do each day, but often many that populate our list, or our minds, are things that may not merit the guilt accompanying them. What might have been good a few years ago, might not meet your needs today. We may spend so much time doing what we feel we have to do that we no longer know what we want to do. The life you live today isn’t the same as the one you lived a few years ago, or even last year. Our needs and wants evolve with the passing of time, but often we don’t reevaluate if there are things we can remove from our homes, or our thoughts. Minimizing, decluttering, and organizing our material possessions has gotten a lot of focus lately. Some even say that decreasing the things in our physical space can help us find more happiness and peace in our thoughts. Make a Not To Do List There are tasks that take up our time, energy, and finances, that may begin to feel more tedious and not worthy of our time and energy. Focus on one or two tasks, or items at a time and consider, how much do I care about this? Prioritize your time for what’s important to do today, what can wait until later, and eliminate those things that may not be worth your time. I’m Not Going to ... Keep that subscription to that magazine or blog I no longer read, or pay the membership fee for an organization I no longer have the time, or the desire, to participate in. Purge your home and the guilt of things that are no longer important to your life today. Move those clothes around that I keep thinking will come back in style, or that I’ll lose 10 pounds so they’ll fit better. Reduce the time spent sorting through your closet and make it easier to find the items you love to wear. Stare at the overflowing inbox and instead start deleting or unsubscribing the unnecessary, or endless, emails vying for your attention. If you don’t want to unsubscribe, many offer the option of reducing the frequency. Check my email every five minutes. Plan certain times during the day for email and social media so it doesn’t overtake your day. Set your phone down so you can be fully present. Be distracted or annoyed by spam phone calls, or feel the need to respond immediately to texts and social media. Instead block spam numbers, let them leave a message, or change the settings for times you don’t want disturbed. Say yes to get-togethers, meetings, and clubs that I really don’t have the time, or desire to participate in. Decline early, and politely, so guilt doesn’t weigh on you or result in you backing out at the last minute. Neglect to ask for help. Someone in your family, or professional life, might be willing to assist with, or do some tasks more efficiently. The Gift of Time Most nurses realize the value of each minute. Whether we’ve learned that from the demands on our time, or our patients who say they wish they’d spent their time in a different way. Make the space and time for what’s most important in life. Don’t let the tedious tasks on your To Do List take up all your time and prevent you from getting to the things you really want to do because there’s too much you have to do. What we don’t do might just provide more time for what we want to do.
  10. How To Be The Best Nurse; Best Parent 1 Make a Calendar Call me old school, but you need a calendar when you are a nurse who does not work a day time 9-5 job. The calendar can be a paper calendar or electronic. I like Google calendars because they sync to our phones for my husband and me to stay on the same page. 2 Talk to Your Spouse Yes, you have to talk to your spouse. Making your life organized doesn't help when you are the only one organized. You two have to be on the same page. As nurse, writer, mom, and assistant photographer, I feel for my husband. He has to pull up our calendar every single day to see where we're going day to day. My kids, 4 and 11, are involved in sports, and by the way, we try to have a healthy marriage by making time for us. 3 Make lunches for the next day, the night before I have learned this time and time again because I get lazy at night, or maybe I'm just tired (see #2). In the morning, it gets crazy trying to get ready for work and school, let alone make lunch. We try to cut back on expenses where we can, and buying kids lunches is one of them. We don't buy lunch at work, so they shouldn't at school. We have food to make sandwiches, it goes on the list when we go grocery shopping every week. My advice, make those lunches the night before. 4 Make a list the night before your day off I understand the pure exhaustion after working 12-14 hours a day. If you get a chance when you get home, or even throughout your work day, make a list for the day off. It only takes a few minutes. My list tops with "wake up," my husband makes fun of me. As a nurse, you know life and death happens, if I don't wake up, how could I start my list? See the humor? Ha. If you have a plan, your list will happen. My lists go something like: Wake up Make coffee Write an article for:___ Throw laundry in Pull out stuff for dinner (frozen chicken, etc) Make boys lunches Make a grocery list Shower Get kids to school Do work (sometimes I break this down into what I try to get done in the 1.5 hours of preschool time I have) Pick up youngest from preschool Library Grocery store Let the dog out Flip the laundry Write some more after time with the little one Make dinner Go workout with kids/their sports The night time is the chill time, whether it's catch up on an article, or catch up on our shows, or life. 5 Stay Active You have to stay active, no matter if you are skinny or fat. It is helpful to your health physically and mentally. Schedule it on your days off, and into your life. Looking back on that calendar, make yourself accountable to working out at least 2-3 days a week. 6 Cook on your days off Many of us struggle with dinners for our families, especially if you work 12-hour shifts. I have a friend who let me in on the biggest secret years ago, the crockpot. Bust it out, my friends. There are healthy dinners for you to make while you are gone, and your significant other comes home. If you don't have a crockpot, cook on your days off. Casseroles are great and can last a few days. Freezer cooking is also very popular! 7 Meditate Have you ever used meditation? It's not voodoo; it's very helpful to help you destress and refocus. One of my goals is to meditate every morning. I have read a lot of articles about very successful people meditating to start their days, and how much it helps them. 8 Destress Destress in the way that helps you destress. Many of us are so busy we have never found out WHAT it is that can helps us destress. For myself, until I was in my early 30s, I didn't realize how much I appreciate nature! It is incredibly therapeutic to me! Spending time hiking, running on trails, or just walking with my husband and kids helps me so much! 9 Add learning into your day Don't be overwhelmed; this is a tip everyone should add into their organization of their day and to do list. "Learn something new every day" is a quote I live by. I truly do. You have to; there is so much to learn in this world. Whether it is at work, something new about your kids, dog, neighborhood, car, whatever it is, dedicate yourself to learning. If you are like me, add the quote at the end of when you realize you learn something new. For example, "The mother regulates the temperature with her baby with skin to skin contact---hmm learn something new every day." 10 ENJOY your flexibility With your busy schedule, and feeling like you lose a few days every week to your job, enjoy the fact that you work three days a week. Sometimes, you can enjoy a nap at 3 pm on a Tuesday, when everyone else is working. Enjoy mall walking with senior citizens, enjoy going to the grocery store when no one is there, volunteering in your child's classroom, and most of all, having time for you. Family time and work time is very overwhelming, but making time for yourself should always be required. To be the best nurse, best parent, and best person you can be, you need to focus on yourself and getting your days in order.

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