Learn. Reflect. Grow.

Cues of Safety: To Deal with stress, send a message to your body that you are safe (enough) in this moment

Last week I brought home two 9 months old kittens I adopted.  They are daughters of a feral mother.  While they have been in foster care most of their lives, they were quite scared to come home with me. 

On the drive home they were silent - as cat owners know, that is strange for cats who tend not to like cars.  When I opened their carriers at home, they both stayed in there - frozen.  Eventually, they moved to hiding in their liter box.  I could tell their little nervous systems had shut down in fear (dorsal vagal response, for those of you fellow neuroscience lovers out there).

The good news is, they have been with me for about five days and already come up to me to be pet (bellies too!!!), have sat on my lap and kind of snuggled in bed.  They still run when I get too close to them (though it has been more of a slow walk away since last night), but when it is on their terms they feel safe enough to connect with me (ventral vagal).

What changed?...

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Nurse leaders: Deep Down, You Know What to Do

People want to work.  At their core, they want to do work that matters to them and makes a difference.  In the words of Daniel Pink we have an “innate need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world”.  Money often gets in the way of this.

 

I used to watch the Suze Orman show back in the day and her motto was “People first, then money, then things.”

 

And sure, maybe on the surface we feel like “yep, got it”.  But what if we dig deeper.  Often, it isn’t until we look at our behavior, our choices, and our words until we see if we really are putting people first before money and things.

 

As a healthcare worker seeking to change the system, I have noticed the healthcare system does it backward.  It seems that money is the priority and because poor patient outcomes and low patient satisfaction impacts the bottom line that we care about it.

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Until we do this, we can't recover from burnout

As a nurse you are likely are exhausted - depleted, disheartened, and needing change but in a lot of ways feeling bound to your work.  It is important, really essential work.  If you’re still wanting to do it, I suspect you are looking for a way to through these beyond challenging times.

I know as a social worker whenever I have felt burned out and dreaming of escape to a simpler life, I longed for a solution.  I was so mad at the system and excepted them to change.  And that wasn’t wrong.  But the thing is, what the system did was out of my control.

As a life-learner dedicated to healing and growth, I knew I needed to figure out how to heal through the tough stuff rather than succumbing to it.  As I dug deep inside myself I found there was one thing I was doing horribly wrong in the system I was in that was making it worse.  And beneath that thing was a core belief, likely a core belief that you as a nurse also hold.

The core belief I...

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What we get wrong about exercise

Reflecting on what I shared last week about burnout recovery with exercise as an example (Read here if you missed it ), I realized something was missing.

 

Over my 17 years as a group fitness instructor and now 13 as a yoga teacher, if there is one thing I have learned about exercise it’s this:  not all exercise is created equal.  This doesn’t mean that in general some form of exercise are better than others.  What it means is that the exercise that will work best for you is unique to you - your biology, biography, and current circumstances.

 

For example, I started running daily in college and did so through my 20s.  While the running helped some, it was hard on my body.  And maybe at the time, it was what I needed to deal with the depressive episode in my early 20s.  However, by the time I hit 30 my anxiety was at an all time high and my body hurt - my feet hurt, my hips hurt, and my...

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Burnout Recovery: Simple, Not Always Easy

Reflecting on a conversation with a friend and fellow psychotherapist, I’m realizing that the ways to recover from burnout are in some ways simple.  For example, one piece of burnout recovery is releasing stress from the body by completing the stress response (check out my free e-book for more on that).  The most effective way to do this is exercise (or movement for those who have aversions to the “E” word). 

Exercise seems like a simple answer to the awful way burnout has left us feeling.  It’s not profound or mind-blowing.  And sure, it’s not the only thing we need to do to recover from burnout, but it is a solid first step.

The thing about burnout recovery that is hard is getting our burned out selves to do the stuff that we know will help.

In my nursing burnout recovery program, the first thing we do is go over how exercise and other tools help us complete the stress response and why this is an essential first step.  ...

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The Deeper Issue of Nursing Burnout: Why It's not just about changing jobs or changing the system

After two years of the pandemic exacerbating the previously existing nursing shortages, nurses are burned out and leaving not just their jobs but the profession.  There are many who have ideas on how to shift healthcare organizations to improve nurse retention and thus improve patient outcomes; I have some myself.  But one thing I see few talking about is how to help the nurses with their burnout.  Whether you are a healthcare leader hoping to help your nurses or a nurse yourself, I’m sharing this in hopes of helping nurses both feel good again and be able to offer the highest quality care (if they choose to stay in nursing).  Read on.

While changing jobs and careers or even the systems nurses work in may seem attractive, there is a bigger issue at hand here:  The levels of stress built up that create burnout get stuck in the body*.  They follow you wherever you go; so whether nurses stay in their current jobs, find a new one, or the systems...

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