What do do when everyone is miserable.
It can be tough to even know where to start when morale is just so low that it seems unrecoverable.
We want to be happy at work but the idea of this is so at odds with the reality of what is, that even thinking about it can further lower our own resolve.
So what can you do? How do you enact change from the place of the worn out and drained?
It is possible, but it takes some social courage.
Are you willing to give that? Are you willing to literally “take one for the team” and start to swim against the tide to permanently change the direction of the river?
I bet if you can believe that the outcome is worth it that you will 100% take one for your team. After all, caring for others is one of our core values and this extends to our coworkers. Let’s go back to what can be done.
1. Start with yourself first. This may sound cliché, but it is the only thing that you have complete control over. You don’t need everyone else around you to be in a good place for you to start to feel better. If I had to sum up the most important self-care steps they would be as follows (sorry, a massage isn’t top of the list)
a. Celebrate your wins. Make a list each day of 10 things that you are proud of, or happy that you were able to do or be. We know all the things we could do better; we don’t have to dwell on that.
b. Reframe the stories you are telling yourself about work to be something that makes you feel good and not bad.
c. Focus on giving the best patient care with the resources that you have and don’t compare it to some utopian idea of perfect care in a perfect world.
d. Breathe, shake out your shoulders, do a couple head rolls, relax your jaw, breathe again. Repeat as needed.
2. When you feel fairly secure in YOUR experience of work, then you can move on to your coworkers and work environment. You need the practice of doing this work on yourself to build up your stamina and chutzpah, to fortify yourself against any backlash.
Then you can start here:
a. Approach your coworkers from a place of compassion not from a place of “they need to change.” They don’t need to change. But if you come from a place of wanting to support them, you can’t go wrong.
b. Start sharing your reframed thoughts with your coworkers. This is where the social courage comes in. It is initially hard to share an uplifting story or perspective when the perspective around you is negative.
c. If it is too hard to jump right into positive stories about work, start with positive stories about your life. Ask about the good things in their life. This is what I call experiential gratitude. It’s like the strategy of savoring. You’re getting them into a more positive mental space by asking about their life and helping them relive the experiences that give them joy. This doesn’t have to be a 30 minute discussion in the midst of your day, a quick check in can build a sense of community (which is protective against burnout) and can be a lovely way to make your coworker feel seen. It’s also a lovely way for you to get the endorphins associated with helping someone else.
d. When things are crazy, tell them what you are going to do to feel better. My go to is “I’m just going to keep taking care of patients, it makes me feel better to focus on that.” Not a judgment, not a direction. After all, some annoying things can happen at work but shifting the focus back to why I am there does redirects me; it changes the tone of the conversation from reactive to proactive, from powerless to autonomous. Autonomy feels better.
You can feel better at work.
Your coworkers can feel better at work.
Are you willing to be the one to get the ball rolling?
If you find this helpful, come on over to www.nursingbeyondthejob.com and see what else I have to help you to get the ball rolling in your own life, to get unstuck and get back to loving the work that you do.