Remember when you were so excited to start your job as a nurse? However, as the years tick by, it’s not uncommon to lose some of your joy and enthusiasm. You may find yourself stuck in a routine or cruising on autopilot; you do your job, then you leave, and you repeat this pattern the next day. The good news is that the delight you once felt for your job doesn’t have to be lost forever. Here are four ways to find joy in your job again.
1. Develop a support system.
Create a circle of coworkers who have similar life interests and values as you do. Knowing you have a supportive network of nurses and other health professionals to rely on eases stress and gives you a friendly environment to share your feelings. Job pressures tend to decrease when you surround yourself with people you consider friends. Don’t have any friends at work? Sometimes you have to make the first move to get to know your coworkers.
2. Learn a new skill.
It’s frustrating to feel like you don’t have the right tools in the toolbox to help the variety of patients you see every day. Use this frustration as an opportunity to grow as a nurse and seek additional training in your areas of weakness (to build your confidence) or interests–whatever sparks your professional passions. Ultimately, you’ll find your job becomes a lot more engaging when you stretch your professional comfort zone to include new skills.
3. Ask for help.
Your attitude as a caregiver is critical to your patient’s health care. But it can be hard to maintain a positive attitude when you’re feeling overworked and overwhelmed. If you find yourself in a negative head space more often than not, maybe you need to ask for help from a fellow nurse, the office staff, or your manager. If you need something changed to have a happier work environment, be bold enough to ask for it. It’s possible you’ll get what you want and rekindle the joy of your job in the process.
4. Learn to let go.
Nursing involves a great deal of emotional labor–or the process of regulating feelings and expressions to fulfill the requirements of your job. If you’re seeing a patient within the context of a health facility, then you already know you’re not seeing them at the best time in their lives. Unfortunately, you might be on the receiving end of someone’s battle with pain, illness, or injury, and chances are it’s challenging at times (to say the least). By realizing a patient’s struggle isn’t a personal attack on you, you’re better able to “let it go,” shrug it off, and focus on the most rewarding parts of your day. It’s easier to feel joyful about your job each day when you focus on the good you’ve done for your patients.
If you’re like most nurses, you probably got into the nursing profession to help people and make a difference in their lives. At times, however, the constant demands of caring for patients can feel overwhelming and exhausting. By making your personal, self-care activities a top priority, you can help ease the burden that often comes with advocating for the health and well-being of others.
One such self-care activity is journaling. With just a few minutes a day, journaling your thoughts and feelings can help you cope with day-to-day challenges, work through difficult situations, and create a positive outlet for you to express yourself. Here are five ways journaling can improve your mental health and help make your job (and life) a little easier.
1. Journaling provides a safe space for your feelings.
It’s easy to be overly critical, wondering if you should have done or said something differently during a situation in your place of work. You might be upset, angry, or frustrated by the outcome; and you may think you have no one to talk to about these feelings. Maybe you’ve grown accustomed to keeping your feelings bottled up inside. Through the magic of a pen and some paper (or your computer), the University of Rochester Medical Center endorses journaling as an avenue for honest, positive self-reflection and a private place to help you pinpoint negative thoughts and behaviors that might be holding you back.
2. Journaling can help you locate the source of your stress.
Once you’ve identified a problem or pattern in your life, journaling can help you recognize the cause of your stress and develop more desirable solutions to combat those stressors. When you write about troublesome experiences, you release the emotional magnitude of those feelings. The act of releasing intense feelings will leave you calmer and more in control.
3. Journaling helps lowers your stress levels.
Your journal is a place for you to be truthful about the things you’re struggling with while also honoring yourself for the brave choices you’re making towards self-improvement. Although it might seem more natural to journal about your problems, don’t forget to write about your successes. By recording the moments of victory in your journal, you’ll also reduce stress and be able to reflect back on your experiences when you need some encouragement.
4. Journaling helps you understand yourself better.
Psych Central, the Internet’s largest and oldest independent mental health social network, recommends a routine writing practice as part of your self-care activities. “You will get to know what makes you feel happy and confident. You will also become clear about situations and people who are toxic for you—important information for your emotional well-being,” says the website.
5. Journaling has been associated with significant health benefits.
You already know that journaling diminishes stress. But did you also know several studies have shown its effectiveness at decreasing anxiety and depression, enhancing creativity, increasing problem-solving abilities, lowering blood pressure, and boosting the immune system? That’s right! So set aside a few minutes every day, and let your thoughts flow onto the page. There are no rules, and you’ll soon discover it’s one of the cheapest and most nurturing acts you can do for yourself.
From athletes to those undergoing rehab, people from all walks of life have seen the therapeutic nature of Pilates firsthand. While people are most familiar with Pilates from their gym, it’s the subtle elements of Pilates that make this method different from all the others. Pilates improves coordination, spinal alignment, stamina, flexibility, balance, eases aches and pains, and reduces stress–all valuable components when being a nurse demands you remain on your feet for long periods of time. Thankfully, Pilates can be performed anywhere, even in a busy workplace. With back pain being a common complaint among nurses, the following basic exercises will help reduce back pain, strengthen your core, and improve your posture.
1. Activate your powerhouse.
The powerhouse consists of abdominal, spinal, and gluteal muscles. It’s important to engage these muscles throughout the day to protect your back. For this exercise, stand up and plant your feet firmly on the ground. Try your best to equally distribute your weight through both feet. Keep your spine in a neutral position–the point in which your pelvis is neither tucked nor arched. Stand tall and tighten your glutes. Place one hand on your belly and the other hand on you back. Inhale and let your stomach fill with air (your front hand will move forward). Exhale and “scoop” your abdominals toward your spine while releasing as much air as you can. Complete eight repetitions. You can use this exercise throughout the day as a reminder to engage your core muscles.
2. Elongate the spine.
Place your back against a wall, and move your feet about a foot out in front of you. Gently press your head against the wall, draw your shoulders back, and keep your backside in contact with the wall. Pretend there’s a string extending from your tailbone through the crown of your head to help you stand tall. Take an inhale, and as you exhale, scoop your abdominals toward your spine (as in the first exercise). Repeat this eight times to help elongate the spine. Try to keep your ribcage relaxed as you engage your abdominals.
3. Circle your arms.
Remain in the elongated spine position against the wall. Draw your abdominals toward your spine to support your lower back. Inhale as you raise your arms overhead, and exhale as you bring them out to the side and around in front of you to make a big circle. Repeat four times, and then reverse the direction of the circles. When you add movement to this exercise, you’re challenging your postural alignment. Try not to disrupt the position of your spine against the wall as you circle your arms.
4. Strengthen your neck.
Sit in a chair with your feet firm on the floor and your back comfortably upright. Place one hand on top of the other and lift your hands to your forehead so that the back of the top hand is touching your head. While trying to maintain a neutral position with your neck, push your head firmly into your hands as you simultaneously press your hands into your head. Hold for two deep breaths and relax. Repeat the process five times to help strengthen your neck and improve your posture. It can be helpful to try this exercise in the mirror first to avoid hyperextending or flexing your neck.