It has been said that Nurses are the public’s heroes of health care. I couldn’t agree more with that statement. But with this great privilege comes great responsibility. (sound familiar?!) The weight of this responsibility creates a pressure that needs to be met with good intentions and a clear mind. I think we find this balance when nurses do not feel “overworked”. We need a break! Even if its 3 minutes, breathing fresh air outside. We need to take a break. This is not something you beg your managers for. This is a gift to yourself. This is something that you have control over. On the busiest of days (trust me I know – I’ve worked a cardio/vascular unit, all 6 patients telemetry, all diabetic…eat – you know how it goes.) you need to take a minute to gather your thoughts and regroup your skills. When you take a break you are contributing to safer patient care. A nurse who takes a break has a lower risk for medication errors. In essence we are all better nurses when we are alert and well rested. So do yourself a favor. Take a breather in the breakroom. Take a minute of silence in the quiet supply room. Or do what I do sometimes, I leave the floor and go downstairs to a sunny courtyard with palm trees. I take a few breaths of fresh air and take in the sunshine. It’s like a rejuvenating pill of peace!
Fresh air is so much better for us than stagnant air conditioning. Crista Miller from the “LIVESTRONG Foundation Studies “published this recently, “Phytoncides are airborne chemicals that plants and trees emit for protection from insects and rot. These chemicals, which linger in fresh air, also happen to be at the center of research in regards to stress reduction. A 2008 study published in the “Journal of Biological Regulators & Homeostatic Agents” recruited participants to spend time walking a forest and city areas for this very reason. According to the research, participants showed more physical signs of relaxation — including lower blood pressure and lower amounts of the stress hormone cortisol — when they spent time around trees rather than indoors. ”
Now partner that fresh air with Sunlight! When you absorb sunlight you start producing the chemical “Serotonin”. This chemical is the “happiness” hormone. Serotonin is very low in people who are chronically depressed and stressed. So if take a minute to grab some rays in the middle of the day – it could help you manage your stress. And it just might make you a happier person! A daily dose of sunlight, particularly in the morning, helps you stabilize the sleeping hormone “Melatonin”. This means you will have less trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up in the mornings. I can’t speak for the rest of you, but I could use a better nights sleep!
Please, fellow nurses, as we continue to fight for better staffing ratios, lets help each other out. We are all stretched, but let us help each other take a break. Particularly the young nurses. Let’s change the culture of nursing where we put off taking care of ourselves because we are always feeling like we can’t share responsibilities with our fellow overwhelmed co-workers.