“Either you run the day, or the day runs you”
There is a tremendous dichotomy within nursing regarding job satisfaction. We are very proud of what we do, and will defend it vehemently when our care or value is questioned. Yet the accepted attitude of negativity throughout the profession drags us down. This negativity is what prevents us from leading ourselves forward and elevating our practice.
“I hate my job” “Our manager sucks”, “This patient/family is a pain”, “I can’t wait to go home/I can’t come back”, and it goes on and on in all its biting sarcastic glory.
We’ve all heard it, perhaps even said it, but none of us started there. We started with hope and pristine intentions, wanting to make a difference. Slowly though, we may have sunk into the dross of negative thinking that sucks the very life out of our practice. It often starts first thing in the morning in the report room, and continues throughout the day. The research however is clear, our thoughts drive our outcomes. Our brain in a positive mode is more productive, effective and creative, all of which make us better (and happier) nurses.
So what do we do? I’ve been in report rooms where I’ve literally heard zero positive things in the 20 minutes before report (the beauty of being central staffing, nobody tries to drag you in). It’s an exhausting way to start the day, and doesn’t make our day any better. Here are five tips to help keep you on the right side!
- Don’t Come Early – So I just lost my ICU nurses here, but hear me out. I’m a notoriously early nurse, often arriving 30-40 minutes before my shift starts. I use that time to focus and get my head right for my day. The downside to having that much time in the report room though, is the sheer exposure to the talk. Even if you don’t participate, you’re hearing it all around you. You’re surrounded by many people, friends perhaps even, who are spewing disdain and frustration. This is not a great way to start your day, and it makes it very hard to shake off once you walk out. My advice if you’re a compulsively early person like me is to still arrive early, but do your preparation elsewhere. Find somewhere quiet you can center yourself, like the locker room or stay in your car until it’s time to go in (I work in a place where that isn’t feasible). This allows you to still get yourself ready to go, but doesn’t expose you to anything that might derail your attitude.
- Get Off Your Phone – So Facebook, SnapChat and other social media aren’t notorious for being positive. If you read most statuses, snaps and tweets, they may be snarky but most are negative. Your entire aptly named feed, is pouring that negativity in to your mind for as long as you entertain it. There is also a comparison phenomenon that often occurs that can impact how you view yourself. If you’re looking at how great someone else’s life appears, it may drag you down to a place where you feel like what you’re doing isn’t as valuable. Starting your day by devaluing your work is never going to make you happy, plain and simple. If you must hop on, clog your feed with things that inspire you. Start your day by reading and seeing things that increase your value and happiness, not just whining about a triviality.
- Deliberately Focus on the Day YOU Want to Have – This one takes conscious thought, but it works! I had a tough start to my shift a couple of weeks ago. I started the day fighting with my husband at 5 am and then had an hour commute to stew over it. By the time I got to work I was in no mood. Luckily as I was walking in (early of course), I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I looked downright unpleasant, and I was. Seeing it thoug, really helped me realize that I HAD to adjust my attitude or mine and my patient’s day was ruined before it began. I took two minutes, focused on my breathing and actively visualized what my ideal day would look like. I envisioned productivity, good communication, and most of all synchrony between my patient and I and their goals. It affirmatively changed my day, and I’ve been doing it before every shift since, regardless of my mood. YOU are the ONLY one who decides what kind of day to have, make it a good one.
- Don’t Listen to Other Peoples Judgement of a Patient – Regardless of where you take report, we all hear patient and family judgement. All that does is skew your viewpoint toward the shift the nurse before you had. You have the opportunity to start fresh, every shift. Every patient, every family, they all just need to feel heard. I’m not saying that if you have no preconceived notions, your day will be sunshine and lollipops. I’m saying to not let someone else’s shift, influence yours. The only caveat in this one I keep is if the patient has a penchant for being violent or trying to remove lines/tubes, I’ll always want to know that. 🙂
- Treat Your Day Like Summer Camp – This sounds ridiculous I know. I don’t mean that you wear khaki and go on nature hikes during your shift. I mean that you get yourself a routine that you thrive within, and celebrate each transition alongside your patient. In the nineties, a movie called Sgt. Bilko came out. Starring the delightful Steve Martin, he woke his soldiers by saying “Good morning campers! It’s 10 am and time to start the day!”. It has always made me smile, and so I tend to start my patient’s day this way as well (although we are starting our day long before 10 am). Find things that make you smile and inject them throughout the day, you’ll not regret it!
I hope you find these helpful in keeping your days on track!