RSSArchive for November, 2007

Put a halt to holiday stress

Here we go again. All of a sudden, like an enormous stack of papers covering your desk on a Monday morning, the holiday season has arrived. Ugh! But hey, look at the bright side: You made it through Thanksgiving and you didn’t eat too much. Okay, maybe you did. And you weren’t one of those people who got up at 3 a.m. to shop on Black Friday. Okay, maybe you were. Either way, now is the time when shopping, eating, and stress really pick up. Here are seven tips to get you through the holidays in one piece.

Whether you’re getting ready to celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, or Kwanzaa, these tips will help you save time, money, and even the hair you want to pull out when the person in front of you at the grocery store clearly has more than 10 items in his or her plastic basket! Phew. Okay, breathe. Relax. Here we go:

Shop in spurts. Lots of people like to pick a day, get up at the crack of dawn, and plow through their holiday shopping in one, crazy 12-hour stretch. Why put yourself through it? Shop a little at a time, chip away here and there, and you’ll be done in no time.

Love to log on. A decade ago, shopping online was a bizarre idea meant for only the highest of high-tech gurus. Now, your cat can do it. If you’re sick of the long lines and your car is sick of finishing last in the parking space game, get a comfortable chair, a nice cup of tea, and shop away.

Less is more. Are you having a tough time deciding which new gaming system to get your kid? Or which cruise package to get your parents for helping you through nursing school? Here’s a thought: Don’t get any of it. Get simple, thoughtful gifts. Spend more time together during the holidays. You (and your wallet) will be happier come January.

Take some vacation. We know, we know, there’s too much going on at the end of the year to take some time off. You’ve got new projects to finish, new people to train, and new ideas to implement. Relax. Take a break. Give yourself a long weekend or take a random Wednesday afternoon off.

Treat No. 1. Guess who that is? You’ve been running around all year, catering to family, friends, and yes, patients. When do you get a break? Now. Go buy those shoes you’ve been looking at for two months. Go to a spa for a few hours.

Early resolutions. Instead of waiting until January 1 to make your New Year’s Resolution, do it now. Do you want to drop 10 pounds? Do you finally want to kick that nicotine habit? Do you want to send at least one thank-you note each week to someone in your life? Start now! You’ll feel much better about yourself through the holidays and you’ll laugh at those people who are racking their brains for a resolution next year.

Smile more. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But have you ever consciously tried to do it? If you’re standing in a check-out line that starts and ends in two different states, smile. If your roast is drier than the Sahara Desert in the middle of summer, smile. If your shovel snaps like a twig in the middle of an ice storm, smile. It won’t make your problems go away, but it will make everything seem a lot better. Then, (gasp) maybe you can actually enjoy the holidays.

How do you get through the craziness of the holidays? Share your thoughts with your peers.

National Nurse

A New York Times editorial by Teri Mills, RN, MS, ANP, CNE, that called for a national nurse position, resonated with the public, sparked a federal bill, and galvanized opposition from established nursing organizations.

What do you think of Mills’ proposal to create a National Nurse?

For more interesting reading on the subject check out

Make a necklace of conscious moments

by Diana Lang, relaxation expert

I like to think of life’s momentous experiences like beads on a string. Those moments that are important, valuable, or rare are like beautiful colored beads that we lovingly thread onto this string of beads. Each bead symbolically represents a moment, an experience, a special person. As life goes on, a gorgeous necklace of our lives is created, full of these moments that have meant something to us.

This little metaphor is a way to imagine making our lives more conscious. By recognizing these moments more often, we become more fully alive to our experience. It is easy to see how a marriage or a birth of a child would be a bead on our string, but what about today? What about right now?

One of the ways I make my moments conscious is by using my breath. When I awake in the morning or go to sleep at night, I take a conscious breath. In between daily rituals like my morning tea or meditation, or taking a walk or going to the grocery store, I take a breath to establish myself in the place where I am.

This is one of the most valuable tools I have. I use it all day long. Between every client and every class, between every activity in my day, I take a conscious breath. These aware moments then are indelibly written in my consciousness. They become part of me. They are beads on my string.

A conscious breath is a physical/spiritual acknowledgement of the moment. My inhalation and exhalation establish me in the new moment I am in. When we use the breath like this, life becomes a living meditation, seamlessly connecting the dots of our experience, one to another, like beads on a string, and soon we have a collection of moments that is an acknowledgment that this life, and everything in it, is sacred.

Breathe your life in deeply. Live your life completely. Recognize that this moment, right now, is special and add it to your life’s string of magical moments.

For more information on Diana, visit her Web site at

Your job is a job–not your life

by Pat Maguire, RN, MN, CNAA

It’s the time of year when everything has a tendency to get chaotic–either the budget year is ending and you are worried about your final numbers, or you are putting the final touches on next year’s financial plan and are concerned that your requests may not be approved. The newly licensed nurses are nearing the end of orientation and some feel they aren’t competent to fly solo. One of your expert nurses is contemplating a transfer to a critical care unit and someone who behaves like “poor pitiful Pearl” most of the time has been in your face one more time about her seniority and expectation that she will be off Christmas and New Year’s Eve and day.

You’ve only held your position for a year or two and the stress of the 24-hour accountability and responsibility is starting to take its toll. Where do you turn for support? How do you manage the daily conflicts that tend to pop up regardless of the effort you put into modeling collaboration and teamwork?

Several years ago, a wise colleague who’d seen it all helped me through a particularly tough time. She asked me if I knew what my trigger points were. What made me vulnerable to a self created “pity party?” What part of the chaos did I own? Was I willing to step up to the plate just as I expected my staff to? Wow, those are pretty intense questions, especially if you are willing and able to do some soul searching before you flip back into high gear and try to solve world hunger.

What was the last novel or mystery book you read? What about your friends and family, when did you do something fun with them? Have you had any “retail therapy” lately? How about professional publications–either clinically focused journals or management texts–do you have a favorite? There are so many that offer a world of insight about your team and more importantly, about you and your style. I have found three publications to be most useful:

  • Michael Henry Cohen’s What You Accept Is What You Teach
  • Jim Collin’s Good To Great
  • Carly Fiorina’s Tough Choices

I pick one up whenever I’m down and learn something new about myself each and every time.

Commit to lifelong learning. And at the end of every day, pause and think about the things you did that made a difference for your patients, your staff, and your colleagues. Keep a journal and for heaven sake, don’t be critical and say, “I didn’t do anything.” You and I both know that isn’t true. Above all, be true to yourself. Don’t compromise your values. Know who and what your resources are so you can seek them out whenever the need presents.

The bottom line is make time for yourself every week–both personally and professionally. And never forget, your position is intended to be your job–not your life.

Self-Care 101 for Nurses

by June Marshall, RN, MS, CNAA, BC

Most of us are really good at taking care of others. We’re also great at giving advice about maintaining healthy balance in our personal and professional lives, but how good are we at walking the talk? I dare to say that as nurse leaders, most of us do not practice what we preach.

Employees look to us as role models. It’s tough to mentor nursing staff in the area of healthy work/life balance if we don’t have balance in our own lives. Have you put off exercising regularly because of an impending deadline or because you’re simply too tired after long hours at work? Do you eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily? Do you drink at least 6-8 glasses of water each day? Do you take some time each day to relax and do something you really enjoy? Do you get enough uninterrupted sleep at night? Do you often feel tired? Just think about what kind of role model you are.

How healthy are our work environments? Direct patient care is physically demanding and psychologically stressful. Do we offer adequate time for nurses to have rest periods at work? Do we provide the same healing environments for nurses that we provide for patients? How good are we at providing flexible work schedules to accommodate needs of mature nurses who have difficulty still working 12-hour shifts? How creative are we in offering employee wellness programs where direct care nurses can actually participate?

Take a few moments to assess your unit or department. Have a discussion about self care at your next staff meeting. Make self care a priority. Ask for staff input and develop an action plan. Then implement it and evaluate your progress. Make self care and the care of your staff a priority. Try a few simple actions to improve the care of your unit/department:

  • Use humor. Find something to laugh about with your staff each day.
  • Assess the mature nurses’ needs and create flexible scheduling options for them.
  • Designate a quiet place where nurses can go to relax and get away from the stresses of work for a few minutes.
  • Have a massage therapist come to the unit to give short massages once a month.
  • Limit work hours. Avoid overtime except in a crisis. Take vacation time!
  • Look for the positives each day. Recognize staff accomplishments. Focus on praise rather than problems.

And last, but certainly not least, practice what you preach!


Have you seen this?

Text-A-Nurse Cuts Time and Costs for Healthcare Staffing Professionals.

Do you think it as a realistic way for nurse managers to save some time, energy, and money?

Holiday gifts for staff

by Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN

Where does the time go?

Thanksgiving is around the corner and holiday shopping will soon be on everyone’s mind. What are you planning to do for your staff this year to show your appreciation? Some of you have a small group, while others may have more than 100 staff members, which can be very costly for the manager.

What gift ideas have worked well? And what ideas, well let’s just say, didn’t get the reception you were hoping for?