Nurses are wonderful and amazing care-givers, but even though they have mastered the art of anticipating and attending to the physical and emotional needs of others, they often neglect to care for themselves. In this four-part Well Nurse series, we’re taking a logical and practical approach to your self-care, which will result in a well-thought plan to keep you on a successful wellness journey.
If you haven’t already assessed your wellness last week in Part 2 of the Well Nurse series, you may want to do so before moving on. After assessing your wellness, find one situation or life category that you are not satisfied with, and using the five steps below let’s make an action plan.
Step 1: Ask yourself if this situation/life category is something you can control, even to some extent. If “yes”, move on to Step 2. If you answer “no”, next week’s Part 4 of the Well Nurse series will offer suggestions on how to make the best of not-so-ideal situations that you can’t control. Advance on to another life category and ask yourself the same question until you’ve found something that you have control over.
Note: This is a tricky question because often we think we are unable control a situation when, in fact, we can to some degree. For example, a friend of mine had been complaining about how work and family required so much of her and were often at war for her time that she was starting to worry about her own health. I asked her if this was a situation she could control. At first it appeared to her that she could not, and so was resigned. But after some introspection she realized that she could, with huge risk, quit her job. She did end up quitting her job, and is much happier with a less stressful job, less money, but with more quality time with her family. She often mentions that it was the best decision she ever made — and at first she didn’t even recognize that there was a choice that could be made.
Step 2: Ask yourself if you are ready to make a change in this life category. If you are not yet ready, then pick another life category and repeat Step 1 and Step 2.
Step 3: Define your vision/destination. Write down what you want to achieve, in one sentence that will make this life category the best it can be. This is your overall goal, your vision or your destination — whatever you want to call it.
Example A: I want to be able to be around XXX person without becoming angry, frustrated, or answering disrespectfully.
Example B: I want to feel better about my weight.
Step 4: Make one small SMART goal for every day. Mark an X on the calendar every day you achieve your goal. SMART goals, as most nurses have learned and practiced many times, are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound (Timely). Just as any coach of a successful athlete must do, come up with some simple but clever tactics to achieve your daily goals.
Example A: I will gracefully exit situations that may result in conflict and/or respond positively to XXX every time they talk with me this week, regardless of what I’m thinking.”
Example B: I will eat before 7:00pm every day this week.