Emotions have a purpose. They are “our natural instinctive states of mind” (New Oxford American Dictionary).
Emotions evolved to trigger us to respond to threats or rewards without having to go through a cognitive decision making process before we act.
Emotions come from our bodies and trigger our feelings, which are mental associations and reactions to our emotions. So our feelings are the whirlwind of our emotions and our personal experiences, images and thoughts. And away it spins.
The point of all this is that we nurses cannot help but bring our own experiences to the care we give.
This is a BIG deal for nurses and what we do.
Given that you are always right in the middle of people’s life changing events, how you feel about the patient, your work, your coworkers, and what is going on in your own life at the moment seeps into everything you do.
To an extent, you cannot fake it. Faking never works for long.
And how this interaction plays out for your patient and YOU impacts how you feel about yourself, and on and on….
So how is that light shining inside of you?
As you can imagine… the brighter it is, the more energy there is to carry you through your work and your life.
Here are two ways to keep your emotions and feelings powered in the right way:
- Redirect your “gut grip” when you feel badly about yourself or something.
The most important thing is to DO something for yourself to help you mend your feelings. Don’t try to bottle it up. Know you cannot hide it for long.
Write an email or a letter or an entry in a journal. Write it to yourself or to “someone” you care about, who is experiencing what you are feeling. Dissect the event or cause, how it happened, what fuels it. Then respond compassionately, listen for the underlying messages,… And move to forgiving and healing. This is practicing self-compassion.
Now send it to yourself, delete it, toss it, or keep it for later to reread and smile or to build on. This works.
- Disrupt negative thoughts with positive distractions.
The best way to derail the cycle of unhealthy ruminations is to distract yourself by engaging in tasks that require concentration.
Time Magazine (March 14, 2016) reviewed the surge in adult coloring books. It turns out that coloring between the lines in the complex illustrations takes a lot of concentration and blocks out distractions. This is a form of mindfulness and reduces stress, increases immune strength, lowers BP, reduces pain levels, etc. It puts people in the state of “flow.” As does anything that we can totally escape in. Hobbies are good!
Who knew what adulthood would bring?
Remember that what you do as a nurse is not an easy thing. And the impact you have on yourself and others matters.
See these things that can help you shine your light as part of your mission.