Monday, January 5, 2009

Nursing Stress - Reconsidering Who God Is Can Be Helpful

It's extremely helpful for me in dealing with nursing stress (and all types of stress) to really have a sense of who I believe God is (for me). I just read the book, "When Bad Things Happen To Good People," by Harold S. Kushner and it was absolutely fantastic. It was very re-affirming for me.

As a young adult (age 18) I decided that I could only believe in God if I was absolutely positive that He didn't "play tricks on me." In other words, why would I want to rely on a God that was sitting up in heaven waiting to give out "tests" or "trials" or "tribulations" to certain people just because he deemed it so? In my mind that was to "human" of God...that was to little of him. He would never do that. I decided that the God that I was going to rely on was not involved in handing out punishments or tests. He was pure Love...and pure love doesn't work that way.

And so when I showed up to work yesterday and found out that I had to float to a different (unfamiliar!) floor, my first thought was NOT "God, why did you do this to me." It was, "Okay, God, let's go."

Now, prior to leaving for work, I had asked several things of God. I had asked that I feel His presence at work. I had asked that I be given whatever I needed to take care of my patients that day. I had asked that I have fun at work and that I could be joy filled at work. Using positive, "I am" statements, I asked God for what I needed.

And when I met my patients and began my day, I soon realized that God WAS with me and that he's always with me. My new co-workers (for the day) were as nice as they could be. Although the patient population was unfamiliar to me (stroke/neuro patients), I received a thorough report at the beginning of the shift and felt fairly prepared to serve them.

The day was busy but I made it through it. I even got my charting and reporting done on time! And at one point, there was a funky music CD playing, and we all starting dancing and laughing together! Incredible!

It is of paramount importance to me in coping with nursing stress that I IN NO WAY believe that God is "doing this to me" to "test" me. I would build a resentment up against God so fast it would make your head spin. I'd be a very bitter person. Things would go down hill fast, believe me!

The fact that I view God as a source of perfect love, as my refuge, as my safe place and as an agent of my internal change. This is CRITICAL. This means that I can turn to him to help me cope as opposed to view him from afar as a source that is constantly testing me to see if I can cope or not.

Did God cause those patients to have debilitating strokes? Did he give them various co-morbidities such as the diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis because he felt their brain damage was not enough? Did he decide that their family members weren't being "good" enough so they must be made to suffer at the bedsides of their loved ones day and night? Is that the God that I'm supposed to believe in?

I don't think so. God is in the heart of the nurse who watches over and takes care of these patients. He's in the heart of the nurse assistant who gives these patients their bed baths. He's in the heart of the physical therapist who gets the confused patient out of bed to walk in the hallway. He's in the heart of the doctor who uses his knowledge to properly prescribe for these patients. And the list goes on and on.

God is in the care and love and tending to that we receive during challenging times. God provides courage to the family members to keep on going to the bedside. God is always part of the solution. God is not up there playing cruel games on us.

That knowledge helps me cope with the stress in nursing. And so I ask God for what I need to cope. Do yourself a favor, learn how to ask.

God Bless,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Nursing Stress: Are You Willing To Try Something New?

I use the same system for dealing with life stresses as I do to deal with nursing stress. And the other day I had a wonderful experience with my daughter.

She had a pretty difficult project to complete for physics class. So off we went to Michael's craft store on Wednesday night to buy the necessary supplies to create an "NRG car" for her class. It was really dark and rainy on Wednesday night and I have to admit I was exhausted by the time we got home from the store. But the work was just beginning.

We worked on the car until 11:30pm that night. After working with a faulty design for what seemed like forever, we finally had a breakthrough. We redesigned the car for the better...but time ran out...we had to go to bed.

The next day (Thursday) the pressure was on because it was our last day to work on the design. Friday morning was the deadline. She would have to demonstrate to the teacher that the car could move on 1 Joule of energy for a minimum of 16 feet (5 meters). After the breakthrough from the day before, she decided to completely start from scratch and do it right this time. All we salvaged from the previous car was the wheels. The rest was all new.

I'd like to share with you about my attitude during this project. It could have been bad. It could have been REAL BAD. I could have gotten very negative and resentful at the idea that we even had to do this project right before Christmas break. After all, aren't there enough things to worry about during this time of year? I could have "character assassinated" the teacher for being such a jerk for having assigned such a difficult project. But I didn't! Oh I had one or two tiny, itsy bitsy "slips" of negativity but that was all. I consciously decided to stay positive and to ask for the help I wanted and needed from the universe instead.

So before getting down to business on Thursday night to create an all new version of the physics car, I wrote some things down on my list:

*We have all the supplies we need for our NRG car.
*We have divine inspiration and creativity to create this car.
*We remain positive.
*We are grateful.
*We work together well.
*We are here to learn whatever lessons we need to learn during this project.
*We are easily successful at this project.
*We have fun during this project.
*We create the NRG car that is right for us.
*We feel protection and God's help along the way.

GUESS WHAT?! Long story...I won't go into all the wonderful details...but the result was success! Sweet success! Her car went well over 16 feet (it went 6.8 meters to be exact) and it was fun doing it. She got all the help she needed during the demonstration too (in fact 2 crucial things happened right before it was her turn)!

It was glorious! It was tremendous! It was a God centered project and it felt great!

I don't take credit for the system but I do take credit for my willingness to work it. If what you're doing in your life to combat stress isn't working, you may want to try something different.

God Bless,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nursing Stress: Flush Out Exactly What You Want!

One of the most powerful tools I use to combat the stress of nursing or the stress of life is to write a letter to God. This is NOT a thank you letter to God. This is not a sweet letter stating how I know God is taking care of me. This is actually the opposite. This is questioning what the heck God is doing! This is hashing out the problem with God. This is an emotional plea about what to do next. And this is a very power tool!

The God letter is a very powerful tool because it leads me to flush out exactly what I need help with. Once I see the areas that I need help in, I can ask God to PROVIDE me with the help I need.

If I'm struggling with stress at work, I'll make requests such as:
I am peaceful at work.
I am calm at work.
I am focused at work.
I separate myself from stress at work.
I practice good self care at work.
I have all the resources I need to take care of my patients at work.
I leave work on time.
I have all the skills I need to take good care of my patients.
I have all the help I need at work to take care of my patient.
I have a highly qualified support team always available to help me take care of my patients.

I don't know about you but those are just some of the things that I worry about and that cause me stress in nursing. The thought of having to do it all alone is terrifying. The thought that I won't have enough help to take good care of my patients is frustrating. The thought that I may be able to "do it all" but it will cost me some overtime is infuriating. The thought that I get to go home (late) and wake up early and do it all over again is sometimes just too much to handle.

All those fearful thoughts can lead to depression and anxiety. It's living in the future and the future is not good. It's living in the future and I'm all alone. It's living in the future and there's just not enough of anything. Not a good thinking pattern to get into.

But when I take those specific fears and ask for God (or the universe, or Higher Power, or whoever) to provide for me, I instantly feel a sense of relief. That somehow, some way I'm NOT alone and that there is enough for me. And furthermore, figuring out how God is going to fix the problem or how he's going to provide what I'm asking for is NONE of my business. I don't have to know how he's gonna do it all. I just have to ask. Remembering to put my requests in the present tense (as if they have already happened) is key. It's a powerful form of prayer and it changes things.

In fact the situation may not change right away, but somehow, some way I change. I start relying on infinite God rather than my finite self. I'm not alone and I don't have to make everything happen on my own. I have a provider and a protector. It's all gonna be okay. The nursing stress eases up a little and that's the whole point.

Here's some examples of how God has provided for me recently:
**For months, my schedule requests have all been honored.
**The E.T. nurse showed up at just the right time to do a major dressing change for me.
**Some very difficult supplies (only used in the ICU) were made available to my VIP med/surg patient and brought to his bedside by the ICU nurse educator.
**I got a 4.7% pay raise (annual review).
**I had a bright student nurse intern for several weeks who lightened my workload.
**I haven't missed a break in months.
**Overtime, if any, is minimal (a few minutes, as opposed to hours).
**The pharmacy is my buddy. It recently took less than 3 minutes to receive the med I was requesting.

Are they all coincidences? I choose not to believe so AND my stress level has gone down incredibly because of my belief...and that's the whole point. The mere act of asking for help from an infinite source of supply has filled me with hope. And as far as I'm concerned, the internal and the external results speak for themselves.

Can you imagine if all nurses starting asking for help from their spiritual supplier? The patients would benefit. The nurses would benefit. Everybody wins!

I learned how to ask here.

God bless,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nursing Stress: Use The Golden Key To Fight Negativity

One of the most important tools that I use to fight nursing stress and just regular "day-to-day stress" is called the Golden Key. I learned about it in a small 6-page booklet with a bright golden yellow cover written by Emmet Fox. Fox suggests that stopping a negative thinking pattern and switching to a positive (God centered) thinking pattern instead is the key to real serenity and peace.

Now, I firmly believe that although I may not be able to control the first thought that comes into my head, I CAN control my second thought and my third thought, and so on. In other words, I can control whether or not I keep thinking those negative thoughts or not.

And here's how I practice the Golden Key. When I find myself worrying about a subject (usually my kids, or the future, or a goal that I want to achieve but just seem to fall short of, or some other thing that I think I (alone) need to make happen), I stop myself. I then switch my thoughts to a phrase involving the power of my God. My favorite phrase at the moment is, "All things are possible with God." But you can think of any comforting, God-centered thought that you wish. Some other nice Golden Key thoughts might be, "God is with me" or "God is my source for ______" (just fill in the blank).

I say it over and over until I get some peace, some relief from the fear and anxiety that I'm experiencing. And that's the point! Instead of worrying in a fearful state about the welfare of my son (for example) the Golden Key allows me to interrupt that negative thought pattern and concentrate on a powerful God-centered positive thought instead. We all know that if you feed it it will grow, and if you don't feed it, it won't grow!

Me projecting fear onto my son's life cannot be a good thing. It can't be good for him and it can't be good for me. Me believing that all things are possible with God is my answer to this. It's simple, it's effective and it's completely free.

Whereas my negative fear-based thinking is a vicious cycle that benefits no one, my choice to stop feeding it absolutely benefits everyone. When I use the Golden Key, I stop for a moment and recognize that I have an all powerful source available to me and that all things are possible through this source. Within moments the negative cycle is broken and God's grace enters my mind. I am granted peace from the negativity. My bond with God (my source) is strengthened and I become hopeful once again.

And Hopeful energy is very powerful energy!

God bless,

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Beat Nursing Stress - Have A Party

I recently had a Christmas party at my house for my co-workers. It was lovely! Just what I asked for. Talk about a wonderful solution to beating nursing stress. What a treat to be able to relate with each other woman to woman and friend to friend.

It was so fun greeting people at the door, all of us dressed in cute NON-SCRUBS clothing. The attendance was over double of what we had last year. The music was wonderful, the food was great and the ornaments were sooooo cute. We had lots of laughs. My home felt warm and cozy.

I'm so blessed. I work with really hard working, conscientious, talented nurses. We are a good team and we're good nurses.

Some of the parameters that I've written for my job are: I build teamwork at work. I enjoy my co-workers. I am safe and protected at my work. I have all the help I need every day. I practice good self care during my work day. I am efficient. I am effective. I have a manageable pace to my workday. I have all the resources I need to take care of my patients safely. I am well respected by my co-workers. I am well respected by my patients. I leave work on time regularly.

Now, remember, these parameters don't have to be currently TRUE. They are my desires. This is how I want to live my life. And, furthermore, I don't have to look to history to dictate my future. In other words, just because life happened a certain way in the past, doesn't mean it has to be my only option for the future. This process is about starting fresh and new possibilities. As I become clearer and clearer about the life that I desire, so does my focus.

By the way, over the last month I've had the most incredible workdays. I've caught myself more than once looking over med sheets again in the afternoon just to see if I missed something because things have gone sooooooo smoothly. Talk about a manageable pace and not missing breaks. It's been Fantastic!

I have to admit that in the past, I spent a lot of time wracking my brain as to WHY my work was so grueling and difficult. Not the best focus to work with. I spent a lot of time feeling frustrated and looking outside myself for the answer to my work difficulties. But what I've found is that the answer is inside me. If you don't feed it, it won't grow. And if you do feed it (give life to your desires), it will grow. I hold the key.

Can you imagine the power of this concept. If all nurses took the time to write positive parameters for their lives, I believe that the quality of patient care would really, really rise. Perhaps we'd attract more support and resources into the hospitals. Patient safety would be at an all time high. It's a win-win proposition people!

Nurses, learn more about attracting what you want into your life. There are some really, really effective yet simple tools available to everyone. Take a peek.

God bless,

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sooth Nursing Stress - Ask! There Are Only 3 Possible Replies

One of the ways I lower the stress levels of my every day life as well as the nursing stress that I feel at work is to ask for what I want. I put my desires, wants and needs down on paper in a present tense statement. I think of it as a form of prayer...A prayer to my God, my Creator, my Higher Power. The name of the Source is not important, just as long as you ask!

Now I'm not doing this for God's benefit. It could probably be argued that God already knows everything. Therefore, he already knows my heart's desires. So I'm not writing my desires down to "enlighten" God. I'm writing them down to give them life. I'm writing them down to infuse them with energy. I'm writing them down to take them from a "wish" state to an actual parameter of my life.

And God always answers my prayers in 3 ways:
1. "Yes."
2. "Not yet."
3. "I have something better in mind."

In the past, my biggest problem was #2..."Not yet". I'm like everyone else. I want what I want when I want it. So the idea of God saying "Not yet" to me is a little hard to swallow. Besides if I think that my God is playing tricks on me and withholding things from me to "teach me a lesson" then I don't want to trust him.

But I don't believe my God plays tricks on me. My God is perfect love. So I choose to believe that when God says "Not yet" to me it is out of perfect love and infinite wisdom. Because it's actually not God saying "Not yet" to me , but instead it is me saying it to myself. There must be some kind of emotional, spiritual or physical work that I still need to do to make myself ready to receive.

Making myself ready to receive is different from being deserving. I believe we are all born deserving of God's bounty. Making myself ready to receive is also different from having to earn God's bounty. I don't have to earn it. It's my birthright. It's your birthright too. We just have to allow it.

So I've come to believe that it is me who is saying "Not yet" to myself. I remind myself that God's not a puppet master. I have free will and choices. If I'm asking for a certain thing but continuing to do old behavior that actually blocks the object of my desire from me, then I'm the one withholding it from myself. Maybe I have some growing up to do in a certain area. Maybe I have some maturing to do. Maybe I have more practice to do in a certain area of my life. Maybe I have an amends to make. Maybe I'm holding on too tightly. Maybe I'm not having fun regularly enough. Maybe I'm having too much fun. Maybe I thought about asking but didn't really take the time to actually write it down on paper...Hmmm

Because ultimately it is me that allows God's abundance into my life. And when it all comes together it is truly, truly glorious! He's the source. I hold the key of willingness.

Take care,

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nursing Stress? - I Prefer Plan B Please

I go to God with all the desires of my heart including answers to my nursing stress. Although I suppose it could be argued that God already knows every desire of my heart. But that's not the point. The real reason I do this is so that I become aware of my every desire.

It's important to be clear about what you want. If you're not clear about how you want your life to look like, that's what you'll unclear, willy-nilly life that someone else (your job, your family, society) is defining for you. Yes, God already knows my every desire. But until I write it down (pen to paper) I'm not always aware. And mark my words, asking God for my heart's desires via PEN TO PAPER is very, very powerful. Remember: Seek and yee shall find. Seeking is asking.

Now, do I pout if I don't get that brand new perfect home filing system the very next day after asking for it? Or do I pout if the relationship with my anxiety-ridden mother doesn't improve over night? Or what if the new wardrobe I asked for seems to allude me for a while? Do I worry and fret over it? No.

Because I am in 100% acceptance of God's wisdom and generosity and timing. His Plan B or his "longer than I expected" version of my Plan A is always, always okay with me. In fact, I trust God's Plan B for me over my own Plan A. Ultimately, I guess you could say that I trust infinite God rather than my finite self. It's called faith. It's acquired by including God in everything you do. Asking him to fulfill your heart's desires (small and big) is the best way to build a strong relationship with him. And, by the way, that's the best gift I can ever pass on to another human being...the certainty that my God loves me and wants me happy.

A couple months ago, I wrote down that my husband gives me gifts at the most unexpected times. He's always been a wonderful partner but since then he's been even more so. The other morning, he made me a killer breakfast burrito AND paid to have new gears put on my bike (loaded and unloaded my bike into the car), along with being Mr. Fix-it around the house. I won't even mention the wonderful massage he gave me. Lovely. :)

Less than a month ago, I wrote down that I get out on time and that I'm always able to complete my charting on time just to name a few items. (there were more!) The next week, I went into work and a new feature had been added to our charting system. An "Auto Enter" button had been added. In other words, if data is exactly the same (and in many cases it is from one shift to another), we can now hit the auto enter button to copy it over. No more individual clicking in certain areas! Quicker charting means better chance of getting out on time. Hooray! An answer to my nursing stress...coincidence? I think not!

These are just a few examples. I've got more. I ask. Learn to ask too.

Take good care,
P.S. Now that I think of it, I did get a wonderful filing system and 2 free hours of help setting it up; I recently had fun picking out three really cute tops at a great discount; and I've gotten a lot of insight into my mom need to pout.