Staying Positive as a Nurse
Nurses encounter many stressors in the workplace: long hours, rotating shifts, and pressure to achieve in an emotionally and physically challenging field. The American Nurses Association found that the effects of stress are among nurses’ top health and safety concerns. Cultivating positive emotions can help nurses become healthier, happier, and more resilient. Here are some ways to stay positive as a nurse, even when it seems difficult.
Begin the Day with Positive Self-Talk
Daily positive affirmations can have a significant impact on staying positive as a nurse. Affirmations can be very powerful, and they are also easy to use. For example, if you say “I am confident” or “I am strong” repeatedly (either in your mind or out loud), the message will become ingrained in your brain. You can make up your own set of custom affirmations that work for you. Some great affirmations for nurses are: “I am making a difference today,” “I am doing my best to help my patients,” and “I am proud of my work as a nurse.” You can also check out this article for more nurse affirmations. Beginning your day with affirmations can improve the way you react to your environment, patients, and coworkers. Making a habit of this can help increase self-esteem and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
Take a Social Media Hiatus
Many nurses report that their outlook skews more negative when they overuse social media and news apps. If you find yourself doomscrolling Instagram or Twitter, it may be affecting your ability to focus on the positive. According to Stephanie J. Wong PhD., doomscrolling (obsessively scanning social media and websites for bad news) triggers the release of stress hormones that can affect your mental and physical health. A key to staying positive as a nurse is limiting your exposure to social media and taking time to completely disconnect. When away from work, set a time each day to turn off your cell phone, put away the laptop, and stop checking email. These pockets of time are great for spending some time outdoors, doing something physically active, or meditating.
Get Your R&R
Practicing daily relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing, are proven to help with staying positive as a nurse. Getting into a habit of engaging in regular relaxation time can lead to improvements in overall health and happiness. When you get home from your shift, try to use some self-care techniques like meditating, reading a good book, or even taking a bubble bath. These beginner-friendly guided meditations only take five minutes a day.
In addition, getting enough sleep every day is paramount to staying positive as a nurse. An article from health.gov discusses several benefits of sleep. This includes an elevated mood, reduced feelings of stress, improved cognitive function, and better maintenance of a healthy weight. Therefore, it’s important to make time for a few calming activities to help unwind after a stressful day.
Surround Yourself with Positive People
You may find yourself working alongside nurses who tend to dwell on the negative. When you’re stuck in a conversation with one of them, practice redirecting the discussion to a more enjoyable subject, or simply leave as soon as you are able. Negative people consume so much mental energy that it’s easy to spend time lamenting their behaviors even when they are not around. This is why it is so important to surround yourself with people who energize, support, and encourage you. By simply being around them, positive people can help you improve your mindset and mood.
Shrink Your Inner Critic
We all have one: an inner voice that expresses criticism, frustration, or disapproval about our actions. It might sound like, “why didn’t you?” “what’s wrong with you?” or “why can’t you get it together?” As a nurse, the negativity these inner voices generate can affect the way you not only treat yourself, but also your patients and coworkers.
Start shrinking your inner critic with a simple exercise: speaking to yourself like you would a friend. Challenge the beliefs that the inner critic is pushing because they are not true. You are worthy, capable, and deserving of love. Diminishing the power you give to your inner critic is essential for staying positive as a nurse.