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.

Jennifer Lelwica Buttaccio

Jenny Lelwica Buttaccio, OTR/L, is a Chicago-based, freelance lifestyle writer, licensed occupational therapist, and certified Pilates instructor. Her expertise is in health, wellness, fitness, and chronic illness management.

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