When emotions make self-care hard
Do you remember doing nursing care plans as a student? The angst that went into each column, writing in tiny letters, trying to fit in every bit of information in hope that the nursing instructors wouldn’t give it back to be redone. I hated doing those care plans. Identifying the assessment and diagnosis always seemed to come pretty easy, worst came to worst we always fall back on immobility or potential for impaired skin integrity, but the outcomes, interventions, rationale and evaluation were always a little trickier.
I’m not sure why these care plans came to mind today, maybe because as a student I always felt a little confused and overwhelmed trying to figure out exactly how to care for the patient and how to verbalize and organize it. It’s kind of how I am feeling now. I can see (and feel) the problem but the intervention is less obvious.
We are in a nursing crisis, not just a shortage of healthy nurses and PPI, but we, as nurses, are in crisis. The assessment/diagnosis of this is apparent, just look at all the facebook posts, talk to other nurses.
Nurses feel things. A lot of things.
Some nurses are on the front lines and are feeling determined but yet afraid and overwhelmed. Some of us are working outside of acute care and feel guilty that we aren’t doing more. Some are feeling relieved that they aren’t on the front lines and then guilty about feeling relieved. There are those who struggle with working hard caring for very sick patients while feeling resentful towards people not taking the recommended precautions, those who wish they could be homeschooling their kids instead of putting a 32 year old in a body bag.
There are a lot of emotions right now and they can be tricky to figure out- tricky to navigate. We aren’t all going to be experts at it right away. We are going to have to develop the skill of dealing with this nursing crisis and learn on the job (whatever that job is), as we always do.
What if we go back and do what we do best as nurses- show compassion. This is a skill we have down pat, one that appealed to us from the beginning of our nursing careers. What if we try showing compassion not only to our patients but to ourselves and to all the other people who are trying to navigate this rollercoaster of emotion, trying to figure out this new reality.
What if, instead of trying to not be afraid, or guilty, or overwhelmed, or anxious, we just say “ It’s ok, I got you.” What if we try “it’s totally understandable that you feel this way and let’s just do the best we can, let’s show up with love.”
Here’s the secret. Compassion feels better than judgement.
Both are available to us.
Don’t waste your precious mental energy on judging yourself at this time or judging everyone else who is trying to figure it out. Self-care begins with compassion. Start with that and everything else will get easier.
For fun, I made a nursing care plan (those are words I never thought I would say). Thanks to nurseslabs.com to remember how to do them (if only we had the internet readily accessible when I was in school). If you are a nursing instructor, I don't want feedback unless it is positive :)