Being a nurse is not easy, and I have to admit that I used to think it was. Sure, I knew that there would be a lot to learn but I never expected the level of juggling that would have to take place in a 12-hour shift. There are other nurses, doctors, techs, social workers, and therapists you are communicating with, on top of keeping your patients alive and communicating with them as well.
I’ve had the experience of being a hospital staff nurse, a preceptor, and a charge nurse, and I can tell you that I’ve grown so much, learned so much, and been challenged in ways that I never thought possible. Dealing with the hardships of staffing, making the assignment, putting out fires and quieting the drama have taught me so much. Hardships are opportunities to grow, although we rarely see it that way. These hardships and setbacks have helped develop my confidence as a nurse.
I admit that when I have difficulties at work it can be easy to let them affect me personally and dwell on them, but I’ve learned to have a (somewhat) short memory. When it comes to criticism, acknowledge that everyone has a learning curve and adopt a growth mind-set. Move on quickly from these setbacks, and use them as opportunities to learn and grow.
To me, it’s important to celebrate the small daily wins–a patient says “thank you”, your manager says “good work,” or the team coordinates the care perfectly. When you celebrate the small victories, it will develop your confidence even more. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Remember why you became a nurse. If you can do these things, those hardships will lead you to an extraordinary place.
As nurses, we are always moving–lifting, walking, running, bending over–and doing a lot of grunt work. When it comes to moving patients, we want to make sure that we protect our back and joints most of all. The best way to do this is to ensure that we have adequate muscle mass to lift and slide our patients properly. That’s where strength training comes in!
Strength training builds muscle, therefore increasing metabolism
Studies show that strength training increases the resting metabolic rate, so you can burn calories even when you’re sitting down doing some charting.
Strength training builds mental toughness
We all know that bedside nursing can be stressful, and you might feel like you are juggling six balls at once sometimes. Strength training challenges you in a way you might not have been challenged before. This leads to an increased confidence and ability to handle whatever the shift might throw at you.
Strength training increases bone density
As women, we know it’s important to maintain good bone health. Strength training helps to prevent osteoporosis later in life. When you lift dumbbells and do a curl, the muscles pull on those bones. The cells in your bones react by creating more new bone cells. Your bones become stronger and more dense. Perform strength-training exercises and you’ll be less prone to bone loss as you age.
Stronger muscles lead to better performance, in all areas!
Whatever exercise you engage in, outside of work or during work, you will have more success with a good foundation in strength training. It can also help you burn more calories during cardio workouts, or while running down the hall to a code!
Strength training increases heart health
In one Appalachian State study, those who performed 45 minutes of moderate intensity resistance exercise lowered their blood pressure by 20 points. That’s as good as most blood pressure pills, and with less expense.
Get out there and start training! I prefer the 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme programs. These are great for building muscle and confidence. Start with some light 3 to 5 pound weights and a resistance band. If you are interested in getting started with a 21 Day Fix challenge pack, you can get one Here. Let me know what has worked for you in the comments!
Holistic nursing is defined as “all nursing practice that has healing the whole person as it’s goal (American Holistic Nurses Association, 1998).” The holistic nurse uses his or her skills and knowledge to nurture the patient’s wholeness, peace, and healing. The whole person is taken into consideration during each phase of the nursing process. Members of the American Holistic Nurses Association use one or more complementary, alternative, or integrative treatments. Here are five approaches you can use on yourself or with your patients to promote healing.
- Meditation. This is a great relaxation tool for emotional well-being. At the workplace, you can meditate anywhere that you can find a quiet space–in the break room, outside during a short walk, or in your car before or after your shift (Schroeder, T., 2017). You can even encourage your patients to meditate to help reduce pain and anxiety.
- Therapeutic Touch. This technique was developed in the 1970s. It involves the manipulation of a person’s energy field between the practitioner and receiver. The Therapeutic Touch International Association defines it as “a holistic, evidence-based therapy that incorporates the intentional and compassionate use of universal energy to promote balance and well-being (TTIA, 2017).
- Aromatherapy. Nurses can use aromatherapy to bring comfort to their patients and reduce pain. Use a scent that has a positive emotion attached to it. Ask the patient what they would prefer and go from there. Practitioners can use essential oils with citrus, mint, woodsy, or floral scents. Different oils can be mixed together to create a unique blend (Guitierez, C., 2017).
- Deep Breathing. This can help to reduce stress in yourself and your patients. It’s easy for everyone to do, as long as you can breath! Take deep breaths from your diaphragm, pushing out your belly with each breath. Once you have mastered diaphragmatic breathing, try some other techniques such as 4-7-8 Breathing, Roll Breathing, and Morning Breathing.
- Supplements and/or Probiotics. As a nurse, we can recommend certain supplements to our patients such as fish oil, and other vitamins and minerals. I also recommend a probiotic for patients after they have been on antibiotics. The easiest one to get is some yogurt, if they don’t want to spend a lot of money. Always remind your patients to be mindful of drug interactions if they are on any other medications.
These are some recommendations and of course there are many more. Let me know what you have tried in the comment section!
Gutierrez, C. (2017, June). Holistic Nursing: Engaging the Five Senses for Emotional Health (AHNA). Beginnings, 37(3) 6-7, 24-25.
Schroeder, T. (2017, June). Meditation for emotional well-being. American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA). Beginnings; 37(3), 10-11.
Therapeutic Touch International Association, http://www.therapeutictouch.org.
In nursing school we are taught that pain is the fifth vital sign, next to temperature, respirations, heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation levels. We are also taught that pain is what the patient says it is, leading us to constantly ask patients to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 10. We are asked to re-evaluate their pain after our interventions, leading us to often tell the physician that a patient’s pain isn’t well-controlled. On top of this, our hospitals are reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid based on patient’s pain control through the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores. With all this focus on pain, combined with the monetary incentives to control pain, is it any wonder that so many people are addicted to pain medications?
Our intense focus of alleviating a patient’s pain in all ways possible has lead to many patients becoming addicted within the hospital system. When they can no longer get opioid prescription medication, they turn to illegal drugs like heroin. Many of my patients come in with abscesses from heroin injections. According to the American Nurses Association:
- 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose
- At least half of all opioid overdoses involved a prescribed medicine
- Sales of prescription opioids in the U.S. nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2014, but the overall amount of pain Americans report has not changed
- Heroin-related overdose deaths have more than tripled since 2010
As nurses, we should advocate for more drug-free ways to relieve pain. After all, pain is a part of life, but so many people are afraid to feel it. There are alternative pain treatments out there, such as meditation, acupuncture, guided imagery, hypnosis, exercise, and so many more. Hospital treatments are almost solely focused on medication, and it’s time for that to change if we want to rid ourselves of the opioid epidemic in this country.