Stress is Optional
Hello, nurse friends! Welcome to another blog post on The Nurse Weight Loss Coach! I really thought for a long time about today’s blog post (“Stress is Optional”) because this is a recurring theme I’ve been seeing among my nurse clients, and myself. I want to share with you my personal experience with stress (or, I should say, my MANY experiences with stress!) on the unit and how I manage it.
Before we dive in, though, I do want to share some cute photos from the most magical pumpkin patch I have ever been to. I LOVE fall. Fall is my favorite holiday, hands down. I have already decorated my place with fall decor and my boyfriend and I love fall scented candles! We light them up every single day.
Last week, though, my boyfriend and I were trying to look for a pumpkin patch to hang out in (I just LOVE pumpkin patches). And we found one of the best and most magical pumpkin patches I have ever seen.
It was so much fun and I loved every minute of it! I was totally freaking out when I saw all the weird pumpkin shapes and sizes. I also tried to deadlift a pumpkin that weighed 150 lbs but was unsuccessful (lol)!
Anyhow, moving on to this week’s topic—”Stress is Optional”! A lot of times on the unit, it was very easy for me to have what I call a “brain-jerk-reaction” after hearing about something I didn’t want to hear. For example, I know that when I’m told that it’s my turn to be Charge Nurse for the day, I will have an immediate brain-jerk-reaction where I will tell myself things like, “Me again? Why is it always me? I was just Charge last week!” And then I’ll spin into this whole ugly cycle that I have lovingly dubbed as the “Vortex of Doom”.
The Vortex of Doom is a place you don’t want to be. It’s essentially a “black hole of negativity”—once you start spinning and sinking yourself in, it will get harder and harder to get yourself out. If I start indulging in these brain-jerk-reaction thoughts like “It’s always me! Why me! This isn't fair!” I find myself getting into a victim mindset. Now, with a victim mindset, I never am in a place where I take responsibility for how I am thinking and feeling. Instead, I’m spinning into these negative, self-pity thoughts that trigger feelings of stress. And as I get more and more stressed, I finally begin to realize that I’m going deeper and deeper in to the Vortex of Doom.
Here’s one thing that I learned that completely set me free from my own Vortex of Doom:
We are always in control.
We are always in control of what we choose to think about our work or any situation that comes up for us. This was a very difficult concept for me to grasp for a very, very long time. But I thought about it this way.
Think about driving a car. Now think about yourself as the “driver” of your own brain. You can steer your brain to think in any way you’d like. You can steer your brain towards a path of negativity, self-pity, and victimization. Or you can steer your brain towards a path of goal-setting, solutions, and problem-solving.
Where do you want to steer your brain?
I am not saying there is a “right way” or “wrong way” to do it.
You have complete power over how you choose to steer your brain and which direction you’d like to take it.
But a question that really helped me figure out for myself if I was steering my brain in the direction I wanted was this:
“Is this thought helpful?”
So, back to the Charge Nurse scenario. If I came onto the unit, and I was told I’m Charge Nurse for the day, and my brain went into victim mode, I’ll notice that I’m in victim mode and I’ll ask myself that question: “Is this thought helpful?” or “Are these thoughts helpful?” (if there are a lot of thoughts running around in my brain.)
If I just stop to take literally two seconds to ask myself that question, I realize that 100% of the time that I’m in the Vortex of Doom, my thoughts are never helpful. In fact, those thoughts make me even more stressed about my work. And, if I am acting as Charge Nurse and I’m feeling stressed, I would definitely be more likely to raise my voice at people, make snarky comments, or complain.
And I decided for myself that that’s not what I wanted to do at work. That’s not how I want to show up.
I had to ask myself the question “Is this thought helpful?” to re-calibrate my thinking and to help me realize that this is not me — I’m just having a brain-jerk-reaction and that this is not how I want to show up as a leader.
Going through this process took so much time for me to master. In fact, I am constantly mastering it. I’m constantly tested every single time I go to the unit. If it’s not a charge nurse scenario, it’s an admission scenario. If it’s not an admission scenario, it’s a discharge scenario. My brain will literally come up with any reason it can to go into the Vortex of Doom.
And that is okay.
Because I know that in the end, it is up to me to decide what I want to do. And how I want to show up at work.
Now ask yourself this. If you had feelings of stress on the unit, ask yourself why you were feeling stressed and whether or not that thought is helpful. You can reveal a lot about yourself that you never realized until you ask yourself those questions. It only takes two seconds to pause and ask yourself these very powerful questions.
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