Sometimes work is A LOT! If I had to give you one sentence about this week, that would probably sum it up. I know the experience at our practice is not unlike the experience that everyone who works in healthcare has had at some point or another.
We are in week 3 of establishing our new practice. Need I say more?
As we transition from a large multispecialty practice into a smaller, neurosurgical and pain management practice there are all the typical logistical issues with the phones, medical records, scheduling, and of course creating new charts for all our existing patients in a new EMR.
It’s a lot, a lot of busy work and a lot of stress.
I would be more concerned if I didn’t have 100% confidence in my colleagues and our ability to continue to give great care despite the stress. In the 24 years that I have been with these providers, we have moved and grown before so I know it can be done. I know that this is an incredible opportunity to uplevel, both for ourselves and our patients.
These are all the things my brain tells me.
My body is not on board.
Let me explain and maybe you can relate.
Intellectually, I know that everything will be fine and the most important things are being managed. Our patients are getting great care, even if I can’t figure out the macros in my EMR, even if I am running behind as I confirm all their past history.
But even though I know this intellectually, I am still waking up at 3 am thinking about work, I feel way too tired to exercise when I leave, and I want carbs 24/7.
My body is wound up, my nervous system is pretty sure that I am going to spontaneously combust, and I am reminded of the period of my life that I always felt this way when I got out of work.
Maybe you have experienced the same thing. You get through your day but at what cost?
Much of the time, reframing and focusing on why you do the work you do can be incredibly helpful and calming to your nervous system. But what do you do when it’s not enough, when you can’t think your way out of it?
The way to feel better at work is NOT to change something at work. I will say it again. You don’t have to change something at work to feel better.
I can’t change the need to create new charts for all my patients.
I can’t change the fact that just this extra step takes a ton of time away from the staff that are already working hard.
I can’t magically know how to do all the things in our EMR, especially while figuring out staffing schedules and if we have envelopes.
So if I can’t change these things, how do I calm down my nervous system? (hint: the Italian pastries from a patient did NOT work, I tried twice).
We have to create safety and recovery OUTSIDE of work. We have to stack the odds in our favor. This is where a little creative thinking CAN get us to a better place.
If you had a magic wand, what is the one thing that you could do outside of work that would help you feel better physically? Don’t overthink it. If you had enough energy to make one thing happen, what would it be?
I asked myself this question and came up with getting outside to walk every day before it gets dark, which this week was at 4:52 pm. Don’t get caught up in all the obstacles, we will solve for those in a minute.
I know that being outside helps me mentally and physically. I know that walking isn’t something that feels too difficult to me. I know that even when I am exhausted, walking generally perks me up and gives me more energy.
I could definitely use a little extra energy in the evening, after all, I have stuff in my life outside of life that I want to do.
Maybe your one thing is different. Maybe you want to connect with other people. Maybe you want to spend some time alone. Maybe you want to hang out with your kids or eat a healthy dinner. Maybe you want to go to bed early (I highly recommend this one- especially if you are waking up at 3am). Maybe you want to get back to a hobby that you love or try a new one. Remember, we are looking for things to restore your body, to calm your nervous system.
Now here’s the magic. Write down the top 3 reasons why it probably won’t work, or as I like to put it, your favorite reasons for not doing it.
Here are mine:
1. I am too tired.
2. I am too hungry at the end of the day.
3. I will get home too late.
All of these things feel super true so this is where you have to use your powers of reasoning.
I am too tired. This is exactly WHY I WANT to walk after work so using it as a reason NOT to is a little ridiculous. I know moving for a little bit gives me energy, it doesn’t expend a ton (especially when just walking).
I am too hungry at the end of the day. Admittedly, this wasn’t too hard to solve for. Bring a snack. The fact is, I didn’t realize that I was even thinking this was a problem until I did this exercise. I will pre-make something on Sunday and leave it at work for the end of the day (or purchase something pre-made). I even went so far as to figuring out what kind of snack I want it to be. Unfortunately, Italian pastries did not make the list.
I will get home too late. This one sounds serious. I felt serious as I wrote it down. I knew that if I wanted to walk outside BEFORE dark, I would either need to walk near work or stop at a park on the way home. The obvious problem here is that it will, in fact, get me home too late. But before you feel bad for me and this seemingly unsolvable obstacle, I hope you ask me, too late for what?
I have no idea. I have no idea why I was reasoning that I would be home too late (our unsupervised brains can be sneaky little devils). I do not have a time that I “have” to be home. I think it may be from years of rushing home to not be late for daycare, dance, or lacrosse. It is really amazing when we apply old and outdated reasoning to a new situation. So I can cross reason 3 off the list. There is no such thing as too late.
I hope you take the time to try this exercise if you are feeling overwhelmed from work. There are lots of ways to calm your nervous system but 3 major ones are movement, mindfulness and connection. Start with one and sprinkle the other ones in. My routine mindful meditation practice at night wasn’t cutting it in my current situation so I had to look for other supportive options.
You don’t have to do all the things. Right now, just do the ones that support you through this difficult time…
and don’t worry about the pastry.
If these strategies give you a little bit of hope that things can be ok, even when life seems overwhelming, join my free monthly Community Coaching for nurses.
First Thursday of every month for all of 2024, 7pm EST.
Discover more ways to feel fulfilled at work AND have energy after work to do the things you want to do.
Register here for the next event on Thursday, February 1st. I can't wait to connect with you there.