Wellness Tips for the Busy Nurse

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It’s been too long, nurse friends ❤ In the last six months I have embarked on a new endeavour in life making the transition from bedside nursing to business owner.  My passion project,Om Baby & Wellness , began out of the urging of expat friends here in Sweden.  There was a need for infant and maternal wellness and education in English in the community.  What started as a few Prenatal Yoga lessons with friends in my living room has evolved into a full time job.  Change feels so good.  I am still using all of my education and experience as a nurse, just in a different capacity and I LOVE IT!!  It is proof that not only is there life outside of bedside nursing, but also that you should always follow your heart.

I will still continue to offer any advice or thoughts to those in need and am still looking for contributors to Neonurse.  In the meantime, here is my latest for AWHONN…

 

Wellness Tips for the Busy Nurse

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Compassion Fatigue & Nursing

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For any non-medical friends following this blog, it may come as a surprise that the words compassion and fatigue combined are a reality for many caregivers.  One pictures the bravery, kindness, and competence of a firefighter, nurse, or other caregiver-strong individuals who can handle any and every situation.  The reality sometimes could not be farther from the truth.

Compassion fatigue is defined as the “loss of the ability to nurture.”  It is considered a “cost of caring.”  While the symptoms are similar to those of burnout, the cause and onset are different.  Burn out is a result of job related dissatisfaction while compassion fatigue is more directly patient related.  Burn out occurs gradually over time while compassion fatigue can be more acute in its onset.  Could you be experiencing compassion fatigue?

Signs & Symptoms

Here are just a few:

  • Exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Feeling of overwhelm
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Decreased Job Satisfaction
  • Pointing Blame

The Affected

Compassion fatigue can affect any professional caregiver.  Any healthcare worker is at risk as well as police, social workers and therapists.  Nurses, especially acute and intensive care, are at high risk.  Any nurse working in close proximity to patients that are suffering are at risk.  The risk to the individual is serious if untreated and can include anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease to name a few.

 Prevention & Intervention

 It is essential for the at risk population to balance work life with personal life.  The innate caregiver often spends more time caring for others than self which can quickly lead to an imbalance.  Self care is essential.  A healthy diet, exercise, and regular non work related activities can help maintain a balance.

In addition, it is important to be offered and attend debriefing sessions following a traumatic event in the workplace.  Often, the individuals do not even recognize the symptoms themselves.  As such, it is important to have regular on job education with regard to the risks and prevention of compassion fatigue.  Also, education in coping with grief and trauma should be implemented in high risk areas.

Nurses often play the role of both first and continued responder in the workplace which puts the individual at high risk for compassion fatigue.  It is important to be aware of the risks, signs, and interventions to ensure a healthy balance in the workplace.  Look out for one another, be kind to one another, help one another.  If you know someone that you suspect may be suffering, talk to them.  Start the conversation.  No more suffering silently.  Offer support, find help.  The medical community needs to better evolve to not only support our patients and protect our patients fully, but support and protect each other as well ❤

 

 

Happy Spring

IMG_5330Happy spring from northern Sweden!  For many of us here, spring has shown itself through some of the most beautiful sun filled days.  While the cold remains and the forecast predicts snow, with help of lighter days and spring blooms we can begin to feel  winter behind us.

With spring comes a sense of renewal, planting of new thoughts and ideas, and perhaps setting new intentions in life.  With that in mind, I am looking to plant seeds of inspiration and intentions in some of you.  Is there anyone among you that would like to contribute to Neonurse?  I am looking for volunteers whose ideas align with the heart of this blog-inspiration, observations, and advice.  Are you an individual that loves to write?  Do you find inspiration in others?  Do you have advice you would like to share with fellow nurses?

I am  looking for the following:

  • Students Nurses
  • Specialty Nurses (Geriatric, Pediatric, ICU, NICU, O.B., Women’s Health, E.R,)
  • Travel Nurses
  • Retired Nurses
  • Disaster Relief Nurses
  • Nurse Volunteers (Operation Smile, Doctors Without Borders)

The intention is to have monthly or bimonthly contributors.  No previous experience is necessary.  Let’s chat ❤

 

 

Betina Austin: ‘Life should not be taken for granted’

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So proud of the amazing work one of our previously featured nurses, Betina, continues to do.  Her courage to help otherwise helpless infants makes her a nurse hero.  Read about her experience working with Doctors Without Borders in Afghanistan.  Way to go, Betina!  Keep up the amazing work ❤

Betina Austin: ‘Life should not be taken for granted’

Tips for Self Care During the Winter

cropped-fullsizerender-48.jpgDepending on where in the world you work during winter, the cold and dark days might seem endless.  Having grown up in sunny Florida, moving to Sweden was a huge change, particularly with regard to the climate.  Working long shifts during winter time can really dampen ones affect, especially if you are working as a travel nurse in a cold and unfamiliar climate.  When those sunny days are few and far between, what can you do?

With the help and expertise of Swedish friends and family through the years, I have learned to embrace the short days and make the best of them.  Here are just a few ways that I hope will help you as well.

Get Outside

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There is a famous saying in Sweden, “det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder.”  It essentially means there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.  In other words, with the right amount of layers, there is no excuse not to get outside.  Swedes find every opportunity to get outside and walk.  Coming from an automobile rich society, I was reluctant at first to all the walks.  Soon enough I began to understand what every Swede has always known.  Getting outside and walking in nature gives time for relaxation and reflection.  Walking alone releases endorphins and improves mood, sleep, and self-esteem.  It is a perfect way to ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Find a nature reserve near you or bundle up and take a stroll along your favorite beach.

Create Coziness

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My favorite word is Swedish is called mysig.  It means coziness and is best represented in the dark days of winter.  Create a cozy area in your home.  Indoor plants are a great way to bring life in to an otherwise dormant outside.  Candles are a great and easy way to light up the darkness.  If you have a fireplace, why not use it?  The sounds, smell, and sight of a crackling fire are so relaxing.  My husband and I do not have a fireplace, but sometimes when we are cooking dinner together, we turn on a virtual fireplace on our Apple TV.  It surprisingly has a truly relaxing effect.

Don’t Hibernate

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Make plans to get out and meet friends.  Whether it is lunch or coffee, force yourself on your days off to get out of the house.  When I first moved to Sweden, I just wanted to stay inside during the winter.  It was too cold to go outside I thought.  Hibernation is not the key to surviving winter.  It is a quick downward spiral to Seasonal Affective Disorder.  On your days off, get out even just for a bit.

Take Care of Mind & Body

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Winter has a drying effect on the skin and body.  Be sure to stay extra hydrated.  Drink plenty of water.  Avoid long hot showers or baths.  Be sure to moisturize after you shower.  Even the lips can become dry and cracked.  Use a  moisturizer on your lips as well.  Exercise, exercise, exercise!!  Whether it’s a walk or a short but daily yoga practice, make a commitment to take care of your mind as well as body.

Eat Well

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It is easy in winter to fill up on empty carbs and high calorie foods.  I find my body just craves more calories and junk in winter.  Try to balance these cravings with healthy choices as well.  Pick one day a week where you eat whatever you want or crave.  On the other days, make healthier choices like fruit and nuts for snacks and hearty soups instead of the heavy carbs.

Here is to surviving what’s left of winter!  What are some of your favorite winter survival tips?

 

 

 

Beyond the Bedside: Why Nurses Are Never Truly Off Duty

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You have probably experienced the following multiple times in your career.  A family member or friend asks you to take a look at a growth they are concerned about.  Perhaps a loved one was recently prescribed a new medication?  While it is beyond our scope of practice to diagnose, it is not beyond our scope of practice to suggest that our friend or family member have that growth looked at, what kinds of tests to anticipate, and what kinds of questions to ask the doctor.  It is not beyond our scope of practice to check that family member’s new drug against any other prescribed medications to be sure there is no risk of adverse drug interaction.  Being a nurse follows us far beyond a twelve-hour shift.  Our patients are those we are assigned as well as strangers on the bus, our best friends, our children, or our parents.  The following are just a few reasons why while a nurse may have clocked out, he or she is never truly off duty.

Assessing

Do you assess every individual you encounter in a public place?  If you are anything like me, you size up every customer in the grocery store or passenger when boarding a plane.  Perhaps you keep a close eye on the slow moving lady on the bus who appears out of breath?  The public counts on us to be its eyes.  How many of you were the first to recognize a stranger in distress?

Listening

Our listening skills are honed in many ways from day one in our training.  Nurses listen. We listen to sounds of the body and words of our patients.  Our ears are trained to recognize everything from a heart murmur or wheezing to signs of depression or risk for suicide.  We are looking for any clues in what information we are being given that would indicate further investigation is needed.

Informed

As part of our profession, our education is ongoing.  As treatment evolves, so does our skill set and experience.  While our knowledge and experience may belong to a specialty, we are still rooted in the foundation of our training.  We know enough to recommend what kinds of questions a loved one should ask a doctor when being seen.

 Prepared

A nurse is prepared both on and off duty.  We are prepared for the questions.  We are prepared to give advice and references.  We are prepared to administer any life saving care in any situation.  Preparation becomes second nature.

As part of one of the most trusted professions, nurses are a frequent sought out resource for public health information.  As such, friends, family, and complete strangers will confide in us.  It is why we are never truly off duty.  It is part of what makes being a nurse such an honor.

 

Change is Good

IMG_4614Happy New Year, nurse friends!!  Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season ❤  2018 has already presented itself with some huge changes.  Mighty Nurse, the online nursing community that I have been writing for over the past couple years, has been absorbed by a much bigger company and as such will no longer be offering an online platform for nurses, nursing students, and other healthcare professionals.

It has been a wonderful experience where I was able to share my experience as a nurse with nearly one million readers every week.  Mighty Nurse gave me a platform and the freedom to write.  I will be forever grateful to Brock and everyone there for giving me the opportunity.

My first thought was what next?  Fear of change and the unknown can be paralyzing to some, but it is just the reality and evolution of life.  The best thing is to mourn it and move on.  Embrace change.  You never know what is just around the corner.

My hope is to continue offering you sound advice and tips for navigating life as a nurse both here and elsewhere.  You will still find me contributing to American Nurse Today, AWHONN, and The Gypsy Nurse.  I am always open to suggestions from any fellow bloggers out there as well.  Anyone know of a good next step in the online nursing community? Wishing you a happy and healthy new year!

Hugs,

Lori

Beyond the Bedside: 4 Ways to Spread Compassion this Season

Mighty NurseChristmas is a time when even the stingiest can feel a sense of compassion and good will.  As nurses, the core of our work stems from the word compassion. It is our fuel. For most, our compassion meters run high during the season. However, sometimes we can run low and find ourselves stricken with compassion fatigue.  We give our undivided time to our patients as well as family and friends during this season which can be tiring in the end. So how do we spread compassion this season and remain balanced?  It’s simple. Follow these few steps. 

4 Ways to Spread Compassion this Season

Tips for the Nurse to Ease the Holiday Blues

cropped-img_46591.jpgWith the holidays fast approaching, it is hard not to feel a sense of magic in the air. The lights, the music, and the food give a sense of warmth this time of year. Unfortunately, anyone that works at the bedside full time has an obligatory holiday shift each year. While many become acclimated to this reality, there are those that could use a little cheering up. The following are just a few tips for making it through your holiday shift this year..

Tips for the Nurse to Ease the Holiday Blues