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  • Writer's pictureMegan Filoramo

It's party time!!!

Celebrating is fun.

Especially when you’re really happy about whatever you are celebrating.

Wouldn’t it be fun if today was a day you could anticipate a celebration? If you could have that underlying buzz of excitement as you go through the day to day activities.

Good news, we CAN create a celebration and it is literally the best kind.

We can celebrate ourselves.

“I need a reservation for a party of 1 please.”

I was thinking about this with all the posts and acknowledgements of nurses this week. It is nice that there is a week to applaud all the things that nurses do, but what do we do for the other 51 weeks of the year? Oftentimes, it’s easy to feel underappreciated, especially when everyone in healthcare is tapped out. Heck, even the patients are overwhelmed.

It got me thinking, are we hoping for someone else to do what we aren’t doing for ourselves? We don’t typically go around appreciating just how hard we worked, not only to get where we are, but to keep showing up and stay where we are.

And why is that?

I think it’s because we underestimate just how important it IS to celebrate ourselves and our work.

Imagine the feeling of being appreciated, of knowing how valuable you are.

Imagine being able to pull that feeling on like a jacket, anytime you need it, without needing anyone else to participate.

Wouldn’t that be great? Wouldn’t it make you happy? Wouldn’t it add a layer of confidence and peace to your day?

The trouble is, we don’t even know how to do this. We don’t have inservices on it and it’s not something that’s intuitive.

So I came up with my own approach: The Rule of 5s.

It’s easy, fun, and totally doable.

Make a list of 5 things in 5 minutes (extra points given for using a fancy notebook and gel pens). Do this for 5 days. Don’t get crazy, it doesn’t have to be strictly consecutive days; kind-of- consecutive is good enough.

Here’s what I came up with this week when trying to focus on what nursing means to me, what I contribute to nursing and what nursing has given to me. It is upleveling gratitude to celebrate all that being a nurse is.

I used five of these as the prompts for my lists but you could add in others:

5 things that I love about being a nurse.

5 funny stories as a nurse

5 things that changed/formed me as a nurse

5 fantastic people that I know ONLY because I am a nurse

5 character traits that make me a great nurse

5 reasons I am happy I stuck with it.

Why does list making matter?

Why does the number 5 matter?

Why does the time constraint matter?

What is this nonsense?

This is a combination of strategies taken from positive psychology and habit change. And it matters because it works. But of course I am happy to break it down.

Making a list promotes attention to the task at hand. It’s very hard to make a list AND do something else at the same time. This attention in turn starts the brain processing and looking for evidence to support the items you are putting on the list. It reinforces the emotions that come with this.

Constraining the list to 5 things has 2 benefits. First it gives the brain a very specific and very achievable task. Nurses are good at getting things done and getting them done efficiently. By making this a finite list, we know exactly what to do. If you are into SMART goals, these are the specific, measurable, and achievable components which promote goal achievement.

Secondly, the brain looks to close open loops. By making the task specific AND by completing the task (aka closing the loop), the reward response is triggered and you get some dopamine. YES!

Why 5 days? There are 2 benefits as well to this part of the Rule of 5s. It’s not really long enough to make a habit but what the repetition DOES do is activate the Reticular Activating System, your brain’s filtering program. It codes your brain to continue to look for evidence to support your positive statements from the list AND to ignore (filter out) input that does not support it (negative self-talk/catastrophizing). Again the limit to 5 days makes it achievable, realistic, and time constrained- the ART of SMART goals.

And it’s fun to do.

It’s an easy strategy that you can pull out any time you need to feel appreciated, anytime that you feel like having a cheerleader may help you get through something. And once you apply it to this nursing part of your life, you can see how you can tweak it for other parts of your life. Change the list topics as needed, in parenting, weight management, exercise, professional goals, relationships.

The Rule of 5s is basically the ultimate party planner for the celebration of you :)


Come on over to my Facebook page to see videos about strategies like the Rule of 5s. Like the page so you don’t miss the strategy that can help you!

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