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  • Writer's pictureMegan Filoramo

Back to the basics

Work has been A LOT recently, even for me, a coach who specializes in not just coping and surviving at work but actually thriving there. 


It seems that no matter how you stack the odds in your favor, life comes in seasons and those seasons come with challenges. It would be easy to be frustrated by this, falling into the belief that things “should be” easier or different by now, or I should be evolved beyond experiencing these seasons as challenges.


 It would be easy to think that I am right back where I started but you’ll be happy to know this is most definitely not how I feel. I want to share my recent experience with you because I know that I am not alone in these seasons and challenges and I want you to know the same.


I have found myself more stressed than usual lately. In addition to daily life stressors, I feel like work is demanding more of me lately. Over the last few weeks I have had some very complex patients. I have also had patients that are usually pretty stable and “easy” have new issues, issues without a clear etiology, requiring more “figuring out” on my part We have had to deal with staffing shortages due to viral illnesses and flu. In addition to all this are the logistical issues that come with restarting a new practice. We need paper, who orders that? (I do). We need toner, who orders that? (I don’t). Where are the forms and what in the world is going on with our EMR?


Individually, none of these are overwhelming. Collectively, it feels like a lot.


And then, on top of all of this, we have some amazing visions for the practice, visions that will require not only growth of the practice but personal growth.


Growth sounds so lovely.

Growth is stress, wrapped up with a bow with a present inside.


You have to get through the stress to get the present, the reward.


And so, I feel more stressed than usual.


The old me would have spent a lot of time bemoaning my circumstances. The old me wouldn’t have seen it as a season. The old me would have wondered if I could get through.


And to be clear, the old me was doing the best that she could with the tools she had.


So what am I doing to keep stress in the framework of growth and not the framework of overwhelm? I am going back to the basics.


I may not be starting from where I was in the past but it doesn’t mean that the same strategies won’t work.


Here are what I consider the basics.


Basic # 1 Remember your why. Why are you a nurse? Why are you at work? Ground yourself in those things. I am a nurse practitioner to care for people, to decrease suffering in the world. I work to fulfill this vocation AND provide for my family. On the days that it is hard to keep sight of the humanitarian drivers of being a nurse, caring for my family is easy to latch onto next. I will show up day in and day out as a way to love my family.


Basic #2: Do one thing at a time, stay focused. (News flash, don’t listen to multitasking nonsense, we can only ever actually do one thing at a time). Stay focused on the patient or team member in front of you.


Sure we want the EMR to work efficiently, we don’t want issues with checking patients in when the front desk is short staffed, but if thinking about this creates a lot of mental chatter, bring your focus back to the patient in front of you. Focus on giving care. The logistics will eventually be worked out and in the meantime, you have the satisfaction of knowing you fulfilled your core reason for being there. Care doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be the best care possible with the resources on hand. 


Basic #3: Reframe your story. This is literally one of my favorite and most used strategies. Once I realized I didn’t have to negate or disprove my default story to write a new one, a whole world opened up to me. Not sure what I mean? 


Stories are the sentences we tell ourselves during the day. No beginning, middle and end needed, just a sentence.


Story 1: We are short staffed and it is going to make everything difficult today. 

I think we would all agree that this sounds like a reasonable story, a reasonable interpretation of the facts at hand. But the downside is, this sentence brings up negative emotions like dread and aggravation.

I don’t want negative emotions, not if there is another way.

Story 2 (reframed story): I work with an amazing team and we will make it work and get through this day together. 

This sentence is equally true but makes me feel empowered and grateful instead of negative.

But what if I didn’t work with amazing people, what story could I come up with then?

Story 3(alternate reframed story): I can give thoughtful and compassionate care to my patients regardless of staffing issues and running behind. 

This story helps me feel peaceful and focused, also better emotions than frustration or overwhelm.


Basic #4: Prioritize your basic needs as much as possible. Try and get enough sleep. Try to get outside, even for a few minutes. Try and move a little bit more. Try to eat in a supportive way. Grant yourself some grace if you slip up a little on these.


So that’s it. Life will never be stress free. Work will never be perfect.

But we can still be totally fine. Each time we meet these challenges with the basics, it paves the road to be easier next time. 


Yes I have some stress right now, what I don’t have is the constant negative mental chatter which is such a relief. 


All the seasons that I have already been through have prepared me for this one. 


And this makes the stress seem much more like growth.




 

P.S. We had a great discussion about going back to the basics during our Community Coaching for Nurses call last night. If you could use some extra support without whatever season you find yourself in now, please make sure to register for next month’s free call. Typically It is the first Thursday of the month at 7pm EST but for April, it will be on the second Thursday, April 11th. Sign up here!

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