It’s not easy to stay inspired when you’re working in a pandemic. But Rich Bluni, RN, says it is possible to renew your inner resources. Here’s a simple and energizing five-day plan to get you started.
No doubt about it: America’s nurses have spent the past year being hammered by unprecedented levels of stress. We keep soldiering on (that’s what nurses do), but it’s hard not to give into despair and exhaustion. Rich Bluni says the antidote for pandemic weariness (and, yes, we’re still feeling it!) is inspiration. And there’s no time better than Nurses Week—actually we get a month this year, but the traditional week still begins on May 6th—to start creating your own.
“It is possible to reconnect to that feeling of inspiration you felt when you first became a nurse,” asserts Bluni, himself an RN with over 25 years of experience in the ER, Trauma, and ICU and author of best-selling books Inspired Nurse (Huron|Studer Group Publishing, 2009, ISBN: 978-0-9749986-7-1, $24.95) and Inspired Nurse Too (Huron|Studer Group Publishing, 2016, ISBN: 978-1-6221804-6-2, $28.00). “But you have to own it. You have to get deliberate and proactive about it. It won’t just happen—especially right now.”
Bluni—who last year shared stories and tactics from Inspired Nurse in short video segments that are still available for viewing—offers a fun, energizing five-day exercise to try during Nurses Week.
What You’ll Need to Get Started: Five dollars; five thank-you notes; five stamps, envelopes, and sheets of paper; five minutes; and five prayers/positive thoughts. Over the next five work days, you will use each of these. The order of your “fives” is not important, but the actions themselves are.
Day 1: Give away your five dollars to someone who needs it. This person could be at work, on your way to work, or on your way home. You might buy breakfast for a patient’s family member or for a coworker whose partner is now out of work. You could donate it to a local pet shelter or contribute to your favorite takeout spot’s fundraiser so they can make payroll. Or use it to buy a couple pairs of new socks for a homeless person…just give away your five dollars to someone who needs it. Don’t worry. You’ll find them.
Day 2: Bring your five thank-you notes to work and find five coworkers to thank. Chances are, over the past few months, your coworkers and fellow staff members have gone above and beyond for you over and over (and you for them). This is your chance to acknowledge all they have done. Write them each a thank-you note and give it to them. (Yes…texts count!)
Day 3: Use your five stamps, papers, and envelopes to send letters of gratitude or just to say “hi” to five people for whom you are grateful or whom you miss. This can be done before, after, or at work (if you have a break). If you are quarantined from your family, send a letter to your spouse and kids. Send one to your elderly parents. Send letters to people who have made a difference for you in your healthcare journey, such as a professor, mentor, or anyone who has supported you in becoming who you are or in doing what you do.
Day 4: Spend five minutes doing a simple act of kindness. Maybe you’re caught up but your peer isn’t. Give him five minutes of your time and help him out. Spend five minutes with a new peer and tell her what a good job you think she is doing. This kindness can even be extended to yourself! Go outside for five minutes and feel the sun on your face instead of going to the candy machine for an unhealthy sugar fix.
Day 5: Depending upon your preferences, pray for five people or situations and sincerely wish them well. They could be patients or peers. Be positive in your prayers. Focus on surrounding these people or situations with blessings and peace. In lieu of prayers, you could also think five positive thoughts. Notice five positive things about a person or situation and be deliberate about sharing them with others.
Be purposeful about each task on each day. You might even recruit five others to do it with you. (Imagine what work would be like if even 10 percent of your peers “took five”!)
“Your renewed enthusiasm for your work is stronger than your fear and more lasting than your fatigue,” says Bluni. “Let the love and gratitude you feel for nursing inspire those around you and create a ripple effect that reaches to your patients and coworkers.”