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Many people, including nurses, have daily mantras or affirmations they use to set their intentions and motivate themselves throughout the day. Mantras can help you get through a tough time, but the ones you’ve always used before might not be enough to get you through the pandemic. If you’re looking for new mantras or affirmations, or you want to get started with them, here are 10 phrases tailored to COVID-19:

1. I will care for my patients to the best of my ability.

Nursing is also about patient care, so leading with a patient-centered affirmation is very fitting. Notice that the words focus on what’s possible—“care for my patients to the best of my ability”—instead of focusing on unrealistic expectations (i.e., “I will cure all my patients”). All mantras and affirmations should be equally realistic and within your abilities; otherwise, they will put unneeded pressure on you and stress you out.

2. This will not break me.

Caring for patients during the pandemic, especially patients who are severely sick with COVID-19, can be absolutely overwhelming. Tell yourself that you may bend under the pressure, but you are strong enough not to break. You will get through this in one piece, and you will live to fight another day (or rather, live to help your patients fight another day).

3. I have survived hard times before.

This relates to the previous mantra, and the two work well in tandem. As proof that this experience will not break you, consider all the times you thought you couldn’t overcome a challenge—and then did it anyway. Look to the past for evidence of how strong you are and how your resiliency will enable you to persevere in the midst of these incredibly tough times. Even when the last thing you wanted to do was put on your cotton scrubs and go to work, you still did it, and you can do it again.

4. Stay in the present.

With no real end to the pandemic in sight, it’s easy to get caught in a spiral, wondering about all the disasters the future might hold. This is an understandable impulse, but try not to give in to it. Instead, focus on the present moment and helping the patients right in front of you (or making the most of your day off, when you’re not on shift). Concentrate on what you can do this week, this day, this hour, this minute.

5. I can make a difference.

Within the scheme of the pandemic, it may not seem like the actions of a single nurse can make a difference either way. However, your actions matter to your patients, which in turn impacts their loved ones and their entire network. Maybe you can’t make a difference to the whole world, but you can (and will) make a difference to your patients. Your work is not futile.

6. This is temporary, and it will pass.

As the pandemic drags on, the hypothetical end point seems further and further away. Some days it feels like there has always been a pandemic, and will always be a pandemic. But even the worst situations eventually come to an end. Even though it may feel endless, COVID-19 will end and vaccines will become available. We don’t know how far away the light at the end of the tunnel is, but there is a light.

7. I cannot control everything.

This can be a tough one for nurses, who often joined the profession partly because they like to be in charge and have a lot of autonomy. But many things are still out of your control, and this is especially true in the healthcare field where you can do your best and still not achieve the patient outcomes you so desperately wanted. Rather than blame yourself, remind yourself that you cannot control everything and sometimes things happen.

8. I will focus on things that I can change.

Another mantra duo, “I will focus on things that I can change” is a good follow-up to “I cannot control everything.” Thinking about how you can’t control everything can sometimes lead to feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. But just because not everything is in your control doesn’t mean that nothing is. Concentrate on what you can do, even if it’s just taking the time to listen closely to a patient.

9. I have things to be grateful for.

In hard situations like coronavirus, it’s very easy to fixate on the negatives because there are so many bad things happening at once. While it can be difficult, try to find some small things to be grateful for–even if it’s as simple as a call with your loved ones or a nice soothing cup of tea. It sounds silly, but looking for the small things will help you find tiny sparks of positivity.

10. I am allowed to have negative feelings…but they won’t overwhelm me.

You are probably having a lot of emotions right now, many of them negative. You might be scared, sad, angry, confused or all of the above at once. Tell yourself that it’s okay not to be okay and that you are allowed to feel all your feelings, however negative they may be. Avoid “toxic positivity” which insists on projecting happiness and productivity at all times. However, you should also remind yourself that these feelings will pass. You don’t want to wallow in them so much that you tip into despair.

The right mantras and affirmations can help you center yourself, clear your head and reaffirm your priorities. If you’re in need of some mantras during the pandemic, try reciting these 10 phrases to yourself before donning your scrubs and heading to work. Thank you for all that you do!

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Deborah Swanson
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