We can all benefit from the wise words of others once in a while. In keeping with the National Nurses Week theme of “Nursing: the Balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit,” we’ve gathered together 15 quotes to uplift your heart and mind. If one of these quotes resonates with you, write it down and carry it with you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or disheartened by your job, take a moment to read this pearl of wisdom. When you’re in need of an instant, spiritual boost, let these words be a bright spot in your day.
1. Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.
~ Ralph Marston
2. My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.
~ Martin Luther
3. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
~ Maya Angelou
4.Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling.
~ Margaret Lee Runbeck
5. In our lives, change is unavoidable, loss is unavoidable. In the adaptability and ease with which we experience change, lies our happiness and freedom.
6. Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.
~ Mary Anne Roadacher-Hershey
7. The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.
~ Abraham Maslow
8. When you awaken love and laughter in your life, your mind lets go of fear and anxiety, and your happy spirit becomes the healing balm that transforms every aspect of your human experience.
~ Jesse Dylan
9. Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.
~ Henri Nouwen
10. Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.
11. Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you’re going to live your life.
12. To know yourself as the Being underneath the thinker, the stillness underneath the mental noise, the love and joy underneath the pain, is freedom, salvation, enlightenment.
~ Eckhart Tolle
13. Each contact with a human being is so rare, so precious, one should preserve it.
~ Anais Nin
14. You have a right to say no. Most of us have very weak and flaccid ‘no’ muscles. We feel guilty for saying no. We get ostracized and challenged for saying no, so we forget it’s our choice. Your ‘no’ muscle has to be built up to get to a place where you can say, ‘I don’t care if that’s what you want. I don’t want that. No.’
~ Iyanla Vanzant
15. The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.
~ Helen Keller
As much as we appreciate the mug that says “World’s Greatest Nurse” on it, finding practical ways to maintain high morale and work performance while serving others can be challenging. In this business, it’s easy to place the needs of others before ourselves. But experts recognize that work performance improves when caregivers take time every day to care for themselves. “The sad reality is nurses ‘accept’ health problems that come from the physical and emotional demands of the profession, and while caring for others often do not care for themselves” says Susan Letvak, PhD, RN, FAAN.
Along with suffering from higher rates of musculoskeletal disorders, higher risks of acquiring blood-borne pathogen infections, tuberculosis, and allergies, Letvak found that hospital-employed bedside nurses had a 17% depression rate compared to the national rate of only 9%.
With National Nurses Week scheduled May 6 – 12, now is the perfect time for nurses, and those who rely on them, to celebrate the essential role of nursing. Here are seven ways to uncover your best self while you provide the best care for others.
1. Learn to love lavender.
Whether enjoyed as a candle or applied as an essential oil, lavender is popular for its soothing, relaxing properties. For added benefits, try combining a few drops of lavender oil within a small spray bottle of water and spritz your bedsheets, pillows, closet, car seats—anywhere you may enjoy a quick emotional lift.
2. Rediscover bathtime.
Combining essential oils, a relaxing candle, comforting music, and a hot bath is the best diagnosis for pampering and ultimate relaxation. Unlike a quick shower, a lingering bath is the perfect prescription for weary muscles.
3. Schedule a healing massage.
As a popular remedy for treating patients suffering from anxiety or muscle tension, the basic massage can be a secret weapon for igniting much-needed energy to finish your day. “We bring in a massage therapist for students and staff every few weeks where they can receive a 15-minute neck and upper back massage,” says Julie Aiken, CEO of Ameritech College of Healthcare. If you don’t have a massage therapy handy, here are five easy ways to give yourself a quick massage.
4. Hit the trails.
There is something special about nature that helps calm those anxious feelings. A study conducted by the University of Michigan School of Medicine found that “group nature walks are linked with significantly lower depression, less perceived stress and enhanced mental health and well-being.” If you lack the time, take a 30-minute stroll around the nearest park or public garden. The fresh air and physical activity will do wonders for your physical and emotional health.
5. Be still for 15 minutes.
The practice of meditation has been used for thousands of years as a tool for relieving stress and anxiety and providing clarity on our relationship with surrounding elements. “Our nursing philosophies are grounded in caring and the interconnectedness of the mind, body, spirit, social/cultural, emotions, relationships, context, and environment,” Aiken says. “All of these aspects combine to create a person; in order to heal the whole person.” A 15-minute investment in personal reflection and meditation can prepare someone to experience hours of peace throughout the day.
6. Greet the sunrise.
On that same line, waking up early to start the day with the sunrise helps put things in proper perspective. Whatever happened yesterday, it’s a new day—literally.
We hear about the benefits of yoga virtually everywhere—and with good reason. “Yoga is more than just exercise. Its benefits can be realized from within the body and from without the body,” says Kerstin McSteen, BSN, MSN, ACHPN, CNS-BC. “A consistent yoga practice can have a positive impact on body chemistry, disease prevention, symptom reduction or alleviation, and emotional health.” Whether taking a class or enjoying online personal instruction, yoga is a popular and effective addition to your daily routine.
This year, as we celebrate the “Year of the Healthy Nurse,” expand your role as one of our most important caregivers to include self-care. By making your physical and emotional well-being a top priority, you can be sure you are providing the best care for others while you’ve taken the time to care for yourself.
Come, “grow old with me.”
She sat stiffly on the chair in the gym. She had come with her ward for recreation time. Younger patients played basketball and rode stationery bikes. Two of my nursing students were playing table tennis with a twenty-something male patient. This lady looked lonely and isolated among all the younger patients and staff, and she struck a chord in my sixty-something heart. When I asked her if she wanted to play with me, she looked quizzically at me, and said, “Me?” To my great surprise, she got up and returned my volleys slowly, patiently, and pretty accurately.
I had observed this lady on the unit. She stayed in her room whenever possible, and did not interact with other patients or staff. She was refusing to leave the hospital because she believed that she owned a luxurious home north of the city, and wanted to return to it. When the social worker approached her with alternative residence offerings, she became agitated, loud, and accusatory toward the social worker.
The next day the patient greeted me in the morning, and we played table tennis again in the afternoon. As a nursing instructor, I don’t often spend a lot of time interacting alone with patients as my job is to be available to my students, and to facilitate their interaction with patients. However, a case can be made for role-modeling, especially for students who gravitate to patients closer to their own age, as is human nature.
The patient and I discussed topics familiar to our age cohort; difficulty with electronic devices, morning aches and pains, the recklessness of young people, and how older adults can sometimes feel discarded and devalued. We moved on to her desire to have her own residence and although she still believed she has a grand residence north of the city, she did agree to accept housing in a group home, “temporarily, only until the other house is available.” At the core of her anxiety was the desire to remain independent, “to take care of myself.”
When the social worker asked me what magic I had done to change the patient’s mind, I could only tell her that we shared some of the challenges experienced with entry into older adulthood.
When teaching signs and symptoms of mental illness, pharmacodynamics, and a myriad of psychotropic medications and their side effects, it is easy to lose sight of the transformative effect of interpersonal relationships in nursing care. Hildegard Peplau, the, “mother of psychiatric nursing,” viewed self-reflection and self-awareness as an integral process in the nurse-patient relationship. In this case, it was mutually helpful for nurse and patient.
Peplau’s command that we continue to grow, mature, and serve the society in which our practice is embedded is her ultimate gift to us as we progress and grow old in our own nursing practice.
On a typical workday in the hospital, I was chatting with my coworker (a physical therapist who we’ll refer to as “Robin”) about taking a continuing education class together. Robin wanted to earn some extra income, and she felt the training she’d get from the course would provide her with that opportunity. She was looking for a friend to accompany her to the class and thought I might be interested. I told her I’d think about it and get back to her the next day when we’d both be stuck working the Saturday shift together. Saturday arrived, and with an influx of overnight patient admissions, we were swamped. I’d had no chance to talk with Robin about the continuing education class. When our paths finally crossed, our conversation went something like this:
Me: I’m finished, Robin. I’ll see you next week.
Robin: Aren’t you going to see the patient that just came in an hour ago?
Me: I checked, but there weren’t any orders for occupational therapy. So, I’ll put her on the list for tomorrow.
Robin: Well, you need to see her today!
Me: I can’t see her today. There are no orders.
Robin: Doesn’t matter. But whatever. It’s your head on the chopping block.
Me: I’m not doing anything wrong, Robin. There are no orders for my services, and I can’t see a patient without orders. I’ll see you next week.
When I returned to work the following week, Robin’s whole attitude toward me had drastically changed. She was pointing at me and whispering to others, laughing when I walked passed her, intentionally ignoring me, and not discussing patients’ discharge plans with me. Confused, I kindly confronted her. “Is there something wrong?” I asked her. “Yeah, you,” she responded. “Don’t try to be nice when you talk to me. It’s fake. In fact, don’t talk to me at all.”
I was shocked by her response, but I maintained my composure. Later in the day, I mentioned Robin’s abrupt change in demeanor towards me to my manager. He brushed it off and said, “That’s just Robin.” For the next six months, I endured Robin’s bullying behavior towards me, and I hated going to work. Suddenly, Robin was gone; she’d moved away (thankfully), and we never spoke again. While I never compromised my integrity, I always wished I would have done more to stand up to her bullying in the workplace.
Unfortunately, workplace bullying isn’t as rare as we would like to think, and it’s one of the reasons nurses consider leaving the profession. Below are some tips on how to handle workplace bullying in the hopes that you will be better equipped than I was to handle this challenging situation.
1. Insist that supervisors, managers, and hospital administrators listen to you.
Truthfully, I was embarrassed this happened to me, so I downplayed the seriousness of Robin’s behavior rather than being assertive. Many workplaces have specific policies to address bullying, but those policies can’t be enforced unless your place of employment is aware the problem exists in the first place. While it takes courage to speak up, doing so fosters a culture that says, We don’t tolerate bullying. You may even want to consider filing an incident report.
2. Keep a record of your situation.
Write down your interactions with the bully along with the dates and times the incidences occurred. Also, keep a record of how you handled the situation; you’ll want to try to be as professional as possible, and your documentation should reflect those attempts to maintain a civil working relationship. In the event that you need to present the management with some specifics, your event log can help you do that in a calm and factual manner.
3. Build a support network with your colleagues.
Although being bullied may make you feel like you want to run and hide (and you might need to do that for a few minutes to regain your composure following an incident), one of the best things you can do to feel empowered is to focus on creating healthy relationships with your other coworkers. Having supportive people around you will help you face this situation with greater strength and confidence.
Also, if you are the coworker of someone who is being bullied, speak up on their behalf. Like the old saying says, there is strength in numbers.
4. Prepare yourself in case the situation happens again.
Rehearse what you’re going to say when the bully acts up. Having a few memorized lines will help you feel a sense of control and set a boundary for what behaviors you will and won’t tolerate. For me, I decided that I was going to remain focused on my job despite Robin’s actions toward me. When she tried to attack me verbally, I’d say, “For the sake of the patients in this hospital, I will remain professional towards you.” Then, I’d walk away.
5. If the bully doesn’t quit, you might need to.
If you’ve exhausted all of your options, and your situation doesn’t improve, it could be time for you to consider a new job. Bullying often leads to a spike in physical, emotional, and mental stress, so taking care of your well-being is the utmost priority. No, the bully hasn’t won if you leave. Instead, you’re choosing to find a job in a healthier, more supportive environment.
Since we were kids and began to explore our homes and the world around us, we would often be given a caution: safety first.
As nurses, it’s important to do everything possible to keep yourself as well as your patients safe. Patricia McGaffigan, RN, MS, chief operating officer and senior vice president of programs for the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF), took time to answer some questions about safety. What follows is an edited version of the transcript.
What are some of the most important tips that nurses need to know regarding patient safety?
Nurses must know that their safety is essential for patient safety. They should engage in and communicate worries on leadership walk rounds. There are many ways nurses can be involved in safety at their own level. For example, they can look for ways to champion care. Substandard care is not acceptable, and understanding reporting mechanisms for any related concerns is important. Understanding that error/harm is nearly always the result of systems issues.
What should nurses do if they make a mistake that results in possible patient harm/injury?
Typically, it is a chain of events that leads to an error, so the concept of a single person making a mistake is not really how we look at it at NPSF. In my talks, I usually ask folks if they have been involved in the care of a patient where a medical error has occurred, especially at the proximal, sharp end.
The first thing they should do is to ensure that the patient is receiving any immediate care that they need, which may range from observation to serious, high-level interventions necessary to stabilize or save the patient. And they should be honest in reporting all details of what happened to ensure that patients are receiving the most appropriate and comprehensive care. Nurses should understand how to report error, the process for RCAs, and asking for feedback on any outcomes and recommendations from those processes. Then there’s the issue of how to provide accurate and timely communication to patients and families.
Nurses should get help for any emotional distress they may be having, which includes immediate distress, and recognizing that their distress may be long term and require ongoing support to maintain their emotional health.
What are the most common tips that brand new nurses should know so that they can keep their patients safe? What about keeping themselves safe?
All nurses should be aware of practice policies and guidelines of their organization related to all aspects of patient care. They should immediately question anything if they are not informed or are concerned about risk—speak up and don’t be ashamed if you’re worried. They can learn how to appropriately express their concerns using a methodical approach to communications, such as SBAR [Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation].
They should include any patient/family reported concerns, because often they are an important barometer of whether a patient may be “different.” This is especially true, for example, in pediatric patients, where parents are often the best early warning system. They should ask more senior nurses or others on the care team for their advice and support. They should complete a foundational safety science course if they have not had one in their training, and look with enthusiasm to education/training/simulation exercises offered by their organization.
All nurses should be trained in ergonomics, safe patient handling, proper use of PPE [Personal Protective Equipment], and disposal of contaminated materials (including needles/sharps). They should come to work well rested, ensure they have time for breaks and nutrition, and that they understand the limits of human fatigue. They should look for and take advantage of peer support programs and training. They should know how to report any harm to themselves.
Some people tend to get scared in the hospital, rehab center, or any place they would be treated by nurses. What can nurses do to alleviate their fears?
Again, communication is important and can help allay fears. We recommend that health professionals get educated about the prevalence of low health literacy and tools and tactics they can use to improve communication with patients/families. Nurses—and all clinicians and staff in a health facility—should be sensitive to cultural issues, language differences, use of translators, and the like.
Some nurses work the day shift and others work the night shift. Then there’s an entirely different group who works both day and night: the swing-shift nurses. Working swing shifts—day shifts and night shifts in the same week or even in two-week period—can be tough on your body. So we asked an expert to give some great tips on how to deal with it and stay healthy at the same time.
Julie Aiken, DNP, RN, CNE, AHN-BC, CEO of Ameritech College of Healthcare for night shift nurses, suggests the following for nurses working swing shifts:
1. Practice staying up—and sleeping in.
Leading up to your next shift, push back your normal sleep schedule a few days before that shift. Don’t totally shift your cycle, since after your overnight shift ends, you’ll return to a (more) normal work schedule. If you can stay up and sleep in even an hour later, it can help.
Other adjustments like going to the gym at night, and doing housework like dishes at 10 p.m. or midnight, rather than when you finish dinner, can also prepare your body for standing and working when it’s usually sleeping.
2. Sleep—and nap—beforehand.
On a similar note, get as much rest the day before your shift as possible. Sleep in late that morning, and if you can manage to carve out even half an hour to nap, do so. The more you’ve rested, the more energy you’ll have during your shift, even if your body wants to sleep.
3. Eat well and pack good food.
The food we eat matters—and affects our energy levels. Before your shift begins, eat some high-energy food like vegetables and complex carbs. You should also pack a similarly nutritious meal, because the cafeteria may not be open, and junk food from vending machine can make you sleepier. Eating high-energy snacks throughout your shift will keep your body’s metabolism going and your energy up.
4. Keep your mind alert.
Some nurses suggest wearing a bright digital watch during overnight shifts to stay focused, even when you’re feeling groggy. Some people sing songs to themselves; others engage in conversation every fifteen minutes, and a few nurses take 30-second breaks and use breathing exercises to remain mindful. Whatever works for you, try it. When you feel sleepiness creep in, engage your mind in some way to remain awake.
5. Don’t rely on caffeine.
If you’ve pulled an all-nighter before, you know the power of coffee—but you may also remember that as soon as its effects wear off, you crash. That’s a risky method when you’re caring for patients and supporting staff during your overnight clinical shift. If you need a boost, try dark chocolate or a little green tea to supplement more natural efforts at staying awake.
6. Remember that tired is normal.
Your clinical supervisor isn’t going to expect you to be as perfectly alert at 5 a.m. as other RNs will seem to be. S/he knows this is practice and experience, so make sure your effort is on your work and assigned tasks rather than fighting off any hint of drowsiness.