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  • Writer's pictureMegan Filoramo

Permission to slow down

Are you busy? Do you have a lot going on? Are you soooooo tired?

These days, most nurses would answer yes to these questions.

And yet, the idea of slowing down is ludicrous. There isn’t time to slow down. If we could slow down, we would. Right?



Here’s the truth. Slowing down is hard. We aren’t used to it and sometimes we even vilify it, thinking we should always do more, move faster, be more productive, manage ALL THE THINGS.

And God forbid we even consider WASTING time!?!? The atrocity!

But then we end up back with that feeling of “so tired” and the discouragement settles, further worsening the fatigue.

If this is you, I see you. I have been there too, I’m still there periodically. 

Let’s unravel it so we can set ourselves free from this vicious cycle.

First, who is making you move so fast and manage all the things? Who is telling you not to stop, that you can’t “sit around”, that there is always more to be done?

We do it to ourselves. That’s who. 

But before we add it to our list of personal flaws let’s look at this tendency with a little curiosity. Why do we expect so much? Why do we expect busyness from ourselves?

We do this for a lot of really good reasons. 

  1. We are caregivers. We went into these roles to help people, we naturally try to do a great job. As nurses, we look at the WHOLE person, not just one little part.

  2. The work is demanding. Moving quickly AND with attention to detail is part of the job. Being aware of multiple moving parts is expected.

  3. We have grown up and live in a culture that rewards achievement, rewards doing. We have internalized this to mean that our value lies in what we do. While this can be motivating, it is a double edged sword. We misconstrue this to mean that if we DON’T achieve something, we are somehow less valuable. This is a perfect example of 2+2=5. 

Our value does NOT lie in achieving or not achieving. While this may be hard to wrap your head around, do you think that your patients’ value lies in what they have done up until now in their lives? What if you take care of babies? Are some more valuable than others? They haven’t done anything with their lives yet. What about adults who have been given more opportunity for achievement in their lives? Are they more valuable than the disenfranchised?

I think I made my point. Achievement does not equal value, we just need to remind ourselves that this applies to us as well. 

  1. The final reason we are so demanding of ourselves is because of the narrative we tell about what will happen if we DON’T do all the things. We create terrible stories (this is just human nature so let’s not get judgy about this either). If we get take-out again, somehow my children will suffer from not having a calm and peaceful home cooked meal. (We all know this sounds ridiculous but you know you have made up stories like this.) We could just as easily say that by getting take-out, I can provide food for my family without being a crazy person by the time we all get to the table. I’m pretty sure a non-crazy mom is better than a home cooked meal, just saying.

  2. If we waste time, we believe we are doing something wrong. More on this in a minute. 

When we look at this, we can realize that we aren’t good or bad for thinking this way, it is just a byproduct of what we do every day. 

So now that we understand WHY we are so intent on being busy, let’s give ourselves permission to slow down, to choose to think another way.. You may not even know how to do this. Worse yet, you may have some type of negative visceral reaction that slowing down is wrong.

It’s ok, we can work with that too. 

The key to this is to take a minute and reframe “slowing down” as healing, or restoration. 

Do you feel like you could benefit from some healing or restoration? I do. Sometimes I feel like my body and soul are screaming for it.

I could use some restoration every day if I’m being honest. 

So here’s the reframe. Restoring something is not wasting time. Healing is not wasting time. 

We are not different from the people we take care of. We also need to heal, and healing takes time, space, and some compassion. 

A perfect example of this is having a hip replacement. (My first job after school was on an ortho/surgical floor). A hip replacement is a pretty straightforward surgery. Barring any major complications, patients heal fairly quickly and outcomes are predictable.

But no matter how strong or healthy the patient is, they still require time to heal. It’s not instantaneous. We don’t tell them on post-op day one that they should go back to work, or clean their house, or make a home cooked meal.

We tell them to take time, to do what is necessary to heal.

We need to tell ourselves the same. We need to do what is necessary to heal. We need to give ourselves permission to slow down a little and recuperate, to build our strength back up. 

No one else can do that for us. (Thank God, that means we can do it for ourselves and not have our wellness rely on other people). 

I don’t know exactly what slowing down will look like for you, it may even change day to day. But you know what it looks like. 

How can you love yourself today? How can you create a little recovery space? I’m going to go for a walk. This may mean that I don’t get to the laundry (it 100% means that). I’m going to give myself the same compassion I give my post-op patients.

Rest IS doing something.

Taking time to let your nervous system calm down IS doing something- and this may mean reading your favorite book or going to lunch with a friend. It may mean take-out.

We ARE in control of our lives, let’s be nicer to ourselves about it.

And then, we may have some more energy to do the things that we want to accomplish because we won’t expect ourselves to run on empty.


Not sure where to start with restoring yourself. I have the perfect opportunity for you. Join my free monthly event where nurses support nurses, where we can explore coaching through our everyday struggles. The next event is on Thursday, April 11th. Sign up here.

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