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5 Tips for Busy Nurses

Thursday, January 15, 2015  
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By Connie Merritt, RN, BSN, PHN

As nurses we have a great commitment to our profession in the care of our patients but often we don't take care of our OWN lives. It is widely reported that we sacrifice a little of ourselves: our time, our energy, our lunch, and yes, our needs. Almost all of us know the challenge of back-to-back shifts! Inconsistent work schedules! Eating on the run! Standing on our feet too long! The stress of work obligations, family demands, and professional responsibilities often interferes with nurses' ability to do what's right for their own health.

As a nurse and business owner, I have seen the physical and the practical symptoms of America's busyness and stress epidemic. I am on a mission to help people maintain their spark for life. Here are some practical tips from my recent research and book released from McGraw-Hill: TOO BUSY FOR YOUR OWN GOOD that help unravel the issues to reduce stress levels and make a positive difference with your career, family, health, relationships and finances.

TIP 1: ACCEPT IT! Your care starts with YOU! Accept it's your responsibility to help reduce stress and manage busyness and that you can manage it! (Even if you are getting multiple demands from different areas.) By taking responsibility for your time, it enables you to find the solutions far more quickly and you're more likely to have the life you want this year.

TIP 2: BE PRESENT Nurses live in a world that is always "on." Hospitals and healthcare needs never close. It's up to you to work your hours and then leave your concerns and worries. This involves confidence in your coworkers and strong interpersonal communications skills. An exercise you must commit to in order to be successful to reduce stress and insure balance in your life is to be PRESENT:

Prioritize what's important for your purpose
Rest and restore your body
Eliminate clutter and enjoy what you have
Set "smart" goals ("specific, measurable, attuned to your life, realistic, with a timetable")
Encourage harmonious relationships
No, politely needs to be communicated more often
Trust in something greater than yourself

This is a vital exercise that needs to be reviewed almost daily! In fact, when you read the exercise – did you make plans to work through being PRESENT? Or, are you glossing over the exercise thinking you could not possibly fit this into your schedule? This is about you and your essential energy for life – your spark! When you live in the present, you are living where life is happening – and living in the present will change your life. Promise yourself you will do the work to be PRESENT.

TIP 3: ADMIT IT! Admit that you can do it – it's possible – you can take control.

TIP 4: LET GO! What can you let go of ? This one takes some figuring out – what and how to let go. Take the time and make the necessary changes (that includes people, places and things).

TIP 5: SAY NO! A big part of letting go is saying NO. No, may be the most powerful word to use to help relieve stress and find more time to take care of things that matter most to you. No, can save you time, enable you to focus on what's important to you and – protect you from your own good-heartedness! While saying 'no' can be a challenge, you can express it pleasantly with a smile (in your heart and tone) with these "no" phrases:

"I have a prior commitment."
"Sorry, can't – let me know how it goes."
"I am tempted, but I'll have to pass."
"You know I'd never refuse you if I could help it....but I'm afraid that won't work for me."

Research indicates that we all get busy and do not take the necessary time to do what we really need to do to manage our lives. Busyness destroys our balance, scrambles our priorities and leads us into stress and a cluttering of our lives with too many activities, endless to-do lists and not enough time to re-charge to do the things we really need to do. These tips will help you manage your time, make good choices with less stress and more balance– enabling you to take better care of you and your special spark for life!


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