The one thing
Nurses take care of a LOT of things. You know first hand all the things that you take care of over the course of your day. Patient care isn’t just the time spent with the patient, it is all the other things that have to be done so that the patient has the care they need. This includes making the schedules, doing prior authorizations, reviewing labs.
And then there are all the things that nurses take care of OUTSIDE of work.
So the question today: on a scale of 0/10, how much are you taking care of your physical body?
Now before you start down the road paved with shoulds, always, and nevers, take a deep breath.
This is just assessment, not judgment.
If your answer is 5/10, resist the urge to just look at all the things that you aren’t doing and acknowledge that this is a continuum, not a value scoring. What are all the things that have supported you being a 5/10 and not a 0/10?. Once you have given yourself some credit for the things you are doing, then you can move on.
It’s easy to say we don’t have time to take care of anything above and beyond what we are taking care of now. It can feel overwhelming to add one more thing to the list.
For myself, recently, I have come to realize that it isn’t one more thing to add to the list, it has to PRECEDE the list.
My body is what allows me to be a nurse, to do the things, to care for patients. No, it doesn't have to be in perfect shape, or even a specific shape, but it needs to be supported. It is truly the central pillar of my life.
I heard someone say once “if you don’t take care of your body, where will you live?”
If I can do all the things I do now (with some fatigue and stress), how much better would it be if I could support my body just 10% more?
So my question to you today: what is the one thing that you could do without a ton of effort to move your number on your 0/10 scale up by 0.5 or 1 point?
What would move the needle a little bit from a 5 toward a 6/10.
Don’t overthink it.
What are 3 things that would help your body?
What would be the very first step for each of these things, a microstep?
Is there anything that you haven’t tried in the past that may be helpful?
Pick one microstep and figure out where it could fit in your day.
Try for one week and re-evaluate. Once this change has become part of your routine, feel free to add another.
Most people know right away something that would support their body but here are some examples of general goals broken into microsteps in case you need some ideas to figure out what is best for you.
Drink more water:
Drink a bottle of water on the way home from work.
Start by increasing my water when I am not at work and have easy access to a bathroom 🙂. Hydrating at any time of day helps me.
Make water more appealing: add fruit or use seltzer
Measure how much water I have every day and pick an amount to aim for.
Increase protein: I will substitute out my morning oatmeal for cottage cheese on the days I am at work (don’t get distracted if you hate cottage cheese or are lactose intolerant, there are a lot of options here).
Decrease sugar: The approach to this depends on where you are starting from. Here are some options: I won’t keep candy in the car. If I buy sweets for other people in my household, I will pick ones that I don’t like. I will pick one day per week to not have any processed sugar. I will have tea after lunch instead of a piece of chocolate. You get the idea.
I will stretch when I get out of my car before work and before I get back into it after work.
I will do a 5 minute workout from amazon prime of something I have never tried before. I will do this once a week.
I will schedule a time with a friend to walk twice a week.
When I drop the kids at an activity I will walk the parking lot or field twice
If you are already exercising, maybe there is a way to slightly increase the intensity, frequency, or variety in your workout. Or maybe exercise is not what you choose to do to move the needle forward.
I will pick a bedtime and stick with it for 1 week.
I will pick one day to not even turn on netflix.
I will look at how I may be affecting my sleep with my diet: stop caffeine earlier, minimize alcohol at night, avoid chocolate in the hours before bed.
I will try a 10 minute mindful meditation before bed.
I will create a soothing nighttime routine.
Stress/upregulation of your nervous system:
I will connect with my loved ones via a phone call 3 times a week.
I will try meditation using an app for 3 min per day.
I will call a therapist (if need be).
I will schedule time for something fun/restorative on my day off. I will pick one breathing technique and try it over and over when I get triggered at work.
OK, full disclosure: I just started trying this this week. It is basically grounding your feet and wiggling, shaking, swaying. I am doing it for the length of one song (I picked ENYA, it just seemed appropriate even if she is a blast from my past). Somatic shaking is supposed to release stress from the body. I actually think it is helping…it looks ridiculous and is fun to do- look it up on youtube.
It doesn’t have to feel life changing in the moment to BE life changing.
Think about it. What will be the effect of doing this one small thing, every day, if you do it for a year?
What will the effect be if you do it 80% of the time, or even 50%?
Still life changing.
Your body needs you. You need your body.
Have some fun taking care of you.
P.S. Change doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to take a ton of time. If you would like your experience of work to change, now is the time to sign up for my Coaching Program: 6 Weeks to Love the Job You Can’t Afford to Leave. Schedule your consultation call here.