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  • Writer's pictureMegan Filoramo

When you have no idea what to do.

It’s not uncommon to feel like work is pushing you over the edge.  The crazy thing is, oftentimes it’s not the nursing care but all the other things: people complaining, inadequate staffing, lack of air conditioning (that was my office this week), forgetting your lunch, working dehydrated, administrative tasks, prior-authorizations, lack of appropriate supplies. 

Maybe you wouldn’t describe the feeling as burned out, but emotionally exhausted, disinterested, and overwhelmingly fatigued may not sound that far off course. 

It can feel hopeless, unless you somehow have the power to change the air condition, circumvent prior authorizations and magically improve the attitude of the people around you. If you figure that out, please let me know.

Because we lack control over many external circumstances, it seems reasonable to think that you don’t know what to do to feel better. 

Today I call that bluff, you totally know what to do. 

It is not unlike the brainstorming approach I use with my patients who suffer with chronic pain. What are the things that make you feel better, calm you down, distract you, or set you up for a good day?

Have you ever made a list like this? If you are feeling like you are at the mercy of the work you do, today may be the perfect day to make the list.

I love my job but I had to make the list this week and then get down to it.

There are things that I know stack the odds in my favor not only for having a good day at work but for being less reactive, feeling peaceful, down-regulating my central nervous system.

When the system is riled up we can either remove the inciting factors or we can improve the buffers, we can build our defences. 

The list is a list of our defences.

These are some examples from mine.

  1. Go to bed. Remind myself that sleep is more important (and makes me feel much better) than really anything that is on TV or in the pantry at 10pm.

  2. Make a list of 10 things you are grateful for everyday (cliche, but don’t knock it until you try it).

  3. Drink enough water.

  4. Get outside every day for at least 20 minutes. 

  5. Read books that support the person I want to be. Take notes, journal (this may not be for everyone). 

  6. Listen to my favorite coaching podcast on the way to and from work.

  7. Set an intention of how I want to feel for the day and then come up with some thought that supports it. Ie: I want to feel peaceful and the thought that helps me feel that way is “I can give good care no matter what.”

  8. If I am aggravated by an email, don’t respond for 24 hours.

  9. Apologize when necessary and do it quickly (don’t hold on to frustration, anger, or shame).

  10. Make a list of things I already accomplished this week rather than a to do list. Make a “ta-done” list.

You may think all these ideas are ridiculous and that’s totally fine. Sometimes rejecting one idea will allow room for your own idea to come to the surface. Maybe you want to watercolor, or call your mom, or make a point to engage in friendly conversation with your coworkers. Maybe you like to do burpees or blast your favorite music from high school while dancing around the house. Maybe you like to go to a nice dinner or work on a craft. 

There isn’t one right answer but there is a right answer for you. Are you willing to take a minute to reflect on what things in your life help you process stress and set yourself up for success? Are you willing to pick one thing to try tomorrow? Are you willing to believe you DO have some control over feeling better?

You already know what to do, you just have to clue yourself in.


If you need some extra support figuring out exactly what to do, exactly what would work in your life, join me next Thursday, June 6th for our group call, Community Coaching for Nurses, at 7pm on zoom. You can register here and start actually feeling better.

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