The New Nursing: Moving beyond burnout and putting heart and satisfaction back in the profession

The New Nursing Moving beyond burnout and putting heart and satisfaction back in the professionNursing can be a stressful job.  We, as human beings, have two motivating forces. One is to survive, and the other is to make a difference or be fulfilled in some way. I realize some choose nursing merely for survival, looking for job security. However, most of us chose nursing because we care about others and want to make a difference. This is the group of people I am speaking to here. When we cannot make a difference with our patients because too many tasks get in the way, we begin to feel unfulfilled.

When we have an overwhelming number of tasks and pressure, it triggers the stress response. We lose access to the creative, problem-solving parts of the brain. It puts us in survival mode. We are just trying to make it through the day without making a mistake, getting written up, or having to stay hours after our shift to do the paperwork. Is that any frame of mind in which to be a healing influence in the patients we serve?

There were two things that really changed my life. One was learning how to break the stress cycle in the body by activating the relaxation response through biofeedback. You can do this by taking 2 minutes and doing some deep diaphragmatic breathing until the body switches out of fight or flight. You can then gather your thoughts and come up with a plan to deal with the overwhelming workload and pressing issues. As you train your body over time, it will become second nature to go to a more resourceful state to deal with the demands of the job.

The other thing that was extremely valuable was attending a healing touch class and learning what it takes to truly be in a healing relationship. This is valuable with patients, co-workers, spouses, and family members. Susan, my instructor, gave an example of touching a young man on the shoulder and saying, “Right now, in this moment, the only reason I exist in this world is to serve you.” And you could feel she meant it. How many people even take the time to slow down to even be fully present with the person they are talking to? Just imagine for a second someone saying that to you and really meaning it. Amazing, right?

Part of what makes a healing relationship possible is therapeutic presence. Dr Shari Geller defines therapeutic presence as being completely in the moment on all levels—mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.

Jean Watson, nurse theorist, developed a Caritas Theory. Caritas is Latin and means love for all. She defined this level of presence as most closely aligned with caring consciousness, mindfulness, and transpersonal caring. Watson states, "Transpersonal caring seeks to connect with and embrace the spirit or soul of the other through the processes of caring and healing, and being in authentic relationship, in the moment."1

The next important aspect of this healing relationship is compassionate detachment. Compassionate detachment is the ability to be present with a person while remaining separate from the outcomes of their situation.

In healing touch, the practitioner centers, grounds, and then attunes with the client or patient.

Centering can be defined as the concentration of attention or energy on something. In healing it is often referred to as a state of physical, emotional, and mental balance where you are present and aware, yet detached and being the observer.

Grounding literally means grounding ourselves to the earth. You can ground by walking barefoot on the earth or you can use visualization to see your energy connect deep into the earth. Einstein told us everything is energy and that includes our bodies.  

Ungroundedness makes you feel as if you are getting out of touch with reality. You feel as if you are not your normal self. You could describe it as “being spaced out.” Taken to the extreme, ungroundedness can cause you to exaggerate your problems; your mind and emotions are in overdrive and are particularly hypersensitive. Because you expend a lot of energy unnecessarily and inappropriately, you experience extreme exhaustion.

After centering and grounding, you then attune to the client's energy by being fully present with the person in front of you. It may be beneficial to touch the client or the bed. Attunement is defined as being or bringing into harmony; a feeling of being "at one" with another being.

Truly, a few minutes of someone really being present with you and showing that they care is one of the most valuable gifts you can receive. If you can do that for your patients, your level of job satisfaction will skyrocket. When you leave that patient, you then have to disconnect from their energy. If you can master these few basic skills, you can go home feeling fulfilled instead of drained.  

 

Author: Debra Kahnen, RN, ND, is the CEO of Life Mastery LLC. With over three decades of healthcare experience—as both a nursing leader in the largest not-for-profit health system in Texas and as a naturopath focusing on wellness—her view is radically different. Debra is a renowned expert in stress management and wellness. She helps people improve their health and emotional well-being to allow for more peace, joy, and personal satisfaction. Get a free special short video eCourse, "Take back control of your life NOW!, so you can experience more balance and ease in your life.

Article Resource: 1 Watson, J. (2007). Transpersonal caring relationships and the caring moment defined. Retrieved June 2, 2009 from the World Wide Web: http://www.nursing.ucdenver.edu/faculty/jw_transpersonal.htm

Article Photo: courtesy of  hin255  / Free Digital Photos

 

If you are too busy to take care of yourself, you need to read this now.

If you are too busy to take care of yourself, you need to read this now.Do you ever feel like you have so much to do that it never ends? And just maybe, if there is time left over, you can take care of yourself but you MUST get your list done first. You really accomplish so much and you do it so well. In fact, you may have accomplished so much that it really is quite amazing. Other people would probably be jealous of what you have done. But just maybe, it may seem as if it is never good enough; you have to keep going and going. You just need to accomplish a few more things and then you can take care of yourself. Unfortunately, with this type of pattern, you can pretty much count on it never being done. There will never be time for you because you will always have to take care of other things. Then one day you may be sitting there saying, “My body fell apart, and it seemed like it happened overnight,” when really there were many warning signs you observed and did not pay attention to.  

That is why I want to share with you some really simple, yet powerful, advice. Years ago a friend lent me a CD set about Kaizen, a Japanese management strategy that translates into “continuous slow improvement.” They compared two groups. One group of people started a program such as joining a gym, and another group made small changes such as taking the stairs instead of the elevators. Months later, the group that made the small changes was reaching their goals and the other group that joined the gym had quit.    

It impressed me enough that I remembered it, but not enough to change my long-standing pattern of taking on too many things at once. Then one day I heard nutritionist and change management expert, Inger Pols, say “When you say you are going to lose 20 pounds or get out of debt, studies have shown amygdala will light up on an MRI.” The amygdala is the emotional center of the brain and, when triggered, can activate the fight or flight response. Your mind can literally begin sabotaging your efforts to protect you. When the subjects were given small goals such as a 10-minute walk, the amygdala would not light up. With my knowledge of the stress response and how it literally highjacks the thinking part of your brain and puts you in survival mode, I knew she was on to something.  

We have all had the experience of wanting to take on a big change and had procrastination rear its ugly head.  When you think of making big change all at once, it seems overwhelming and blocks you from even starting or sabotages you early in the process. In reality, people who take just one small step sustain the change and have better outcomes than people who try to change everything at once.

So try the Kaizen way of “continuous slow improvement.” Instead of going on a diet and going to the gym, which you may not be able to sustain, you pick one thing you can add to your life that moves you in the direction you want to go. Choose one thing that does not add to your stress or interrupt your current workflow. Let’s say you decide to increase your activity by parking further from the door every time you go somewhere. You do that for a week until that is easy and part of your routine. The next week you add another small change in routine that moves you towards your goal. Let’s say this time you decide not to have any soda for a week. The next week try doing something else that supports your well-being. Try it. Just choose one thing today that you can do for the next week that moves you in a direction you want to go. You can apply the same concept to getting out of debt, building your business, or any other goal you want to accomplish.  

 

 

Author: Debra Kahnen, RN, ND, is the CEO of Life Mastery LLC. With over three decades of healthcare experience—as both a nursing leader in the largest not-for-profit health system in Texas and as a naturopath focusing on wellness—her view is radically different. Debra is a renowned expert in stress management and wellness. She helps people improve their health and emotional well-being to allow for more peace, joy, and personal satisfaction. Get a free special short video eCourse, "Take back control of your life NOW!, so you can experience more balance and ease in your life.

Article Photo: courtesy of anat_tikker / Free Digital Photos

 

If something bad happens to you, the worst thing you can do is judge yourself

Are you wasting needless energy stressing about things over which you have no controlOne of my favorite lines Oprah uses in her magazine is “What I know for sure….” She then goes on to talk about what she has witnessed often enough in her life that she knows it for sure.  

Being an avid student of self-development over the last 30 years, I would say what I thought I knew for sure was that we create our reality. What I never realized was happening with this empowering belief comes a new kind of stress called, “How did I create or attract that?” While I still believe who we are, what we do, and what we think and feel influences our reality, I do not believe that we have 100% conscious control over everything we experience in life.

You see, I developed a crippling pain that I had trouble getting the doctors to give me a diagnosis that seemed right to me. Even the surgery they offered me did not seem like it would solve the problem entirely. But that is not the real problem. The problem is I had been trying for a year to handle it without surgery. Over the years, I have seen many people with conditions that medicine might label as incurable have seemingly miraculous recoveries in both alternative medicine and spiritual healing. Yet, I had not been able to heal myself. I said to a friend, “If I have to have the surgery, I will feel like a failure.” To most people that might seem silly, but I was dead serious. “If only…I had been stricter on my diet, exercised more regularly, had more faith, and meditated more often, then….” This kind of thinking puts your body in a stress response and actually pumps out destructive chemicals that inhibit healing. While it may be too late to prevent an illness that is already affecting you, it is never too late to learn how to stop the stress response and activate the relaxation response. It is only during this time of relaxation that our body’s innate healing ability can go to work.

On an interview, Lisa Rankin, MD, spoke of her experience in California. She had many patients in her practice that did all the things evidence shows it takes to be healthy. They ate vegan diets, did yoga, mediated and, despite that, these were some of the sickest people she knew. They were also some of the most stressed out people she knew. She would ask people to listen to their body’s wisdom and intuition to see what it needed to heal. Sometimes things would come up like the need to leave the stressful job or the toxic relationship.  

When I developed my illness, I know I was not taking the best care of myself. I was under tremendous stress and pressure on my job, working through the challenges of a new blended family, and having to make major decisions that I did not want to make. Did I cause the illness? What happens if I believe and focus on that? You bet! It creates even more stress and stress hormones that destroy the body, and that interferes with any healing that could happen. What if, instead of focusing on that which I have no control, I accept what is and focus on how best to deal with it in the moment. This new mindset would allow me to look for solutions with clarity.  

Psychiatrist and author, Dr. Edward Hallowell, advises to never suffer alone. When you suffer alone, your mind can “awfulize” and dig you in even deeper. You always have your close friends you can suffer with. However, if it is a financial concern, suffer with an expert and you may find it was not as bad as you thought or come up with a solution.

My wise friend shared this bit of wisdom: Your karma is the hand you have been dealt, and your dharma is how you play the hand you have been dealt. Over the next few days I started to do a life review. My son’s father bailed on me when I got pregnant, and I was a single mother for 11 years. I started out dazed, confused, betrayed, and angry but I worked through to forgiveness and unconditional love. In fact, he and his daughter stayed in our home and shared Thanksgiving with my new husband and me so my son could spend time with them. Am I a failure because I created a relationship that ended with me being alone and pregnant? Or, am I an amazing human being to grow through that challenge to be a person capable of unconditional love and non-judgment? In fact, as I continued to look at how I responded to life rather than judging the experiences, I saw that for every challenge in my life I handled it in a way that was the highest and best for everyone involved. As I reviewed my life, I was proud of how I handled things and happy I was me. I honestly find that most people are doing the best they can at the time.  

When you are faced with challenges, you always have a choice to grow and overcome them or become bitter, angry, self-critical, or defeated. But you must give yourself time to work through the stages of the process and recognize when you are doing the best you can. Not everyone can do it alone. If you are struggling, seek out the right experts to help you.

 

 

Author: Debra Kahnen, RN, ND, is the CEO of Life Mastery LLC. With over three decades of healthcare experience—as both a nursing leader in the largest not-for-profit health system in Texas and as a naturopath focusing on wellness—her view is radically different. Debra is a renowned expert in stress management and wellness. She helps people improve their health and emotional well-being to allow for more peace, joy, and personal satisfaction. Get a free special short video eCourse, "Take back control of your life NOW!, so you can experience more balance and ease in your life.

Article Photo: courtesy of Stuart Miles / Free Digital Photos