Chaos abounds; And I sit, becoming a new person.
Moment to moment.
Breathing in and expanding; Breathing out and contracting.
Accepting change, for I am not in charge.
I let go of it all, and rightly place it in God’s hands.
I came to the Nurse Manifest project in 2001 as I was in my doctoral program at the California Institute of Integral Studies, studying group process and transformative learning and change. I related the transdisciplinary concepts I was learning about to the issues we have in the profession of nursing, and I wrote an article about the nursing shortage which was published in Advances in Nursing Science in 2002. My use of the manifesto in this article lead to my interaction with the nurse manifest group in our first research project in 2002, where using Rogerian narrative analysis methodology, the story Nurse #65X89 was written. You can access this story through the link to the Nurse Manifest web page.
Over the years I have continued to write and speak about the issues we have in nursing and nursing academia that contribute to our professional oppression. I do believe one of the key concepts that nurses need to embrace is the idea of self-care in order to create change in ourselves and our profession. I learned this for myself as I was honored to study with some of our great nurse theorists and leaders (like Jean Watson and Janet Quinn) and from my own continual process of learning to love and care for myself.
I am currently developing and implementing a caring-holistic RN- BSN curriculum where I use Maslow’s Hierarchy to help these hard-working students focus on their own self-care needs. Some students may need to just “hang out” at the base of Maslow’s hierarchy and focus on sleeping 8 hours/ night (or day if they work night shift) or creating an exercise routine. Other students may really strive to move up the hierarchy and begin to do more “soul care”, or striving toward self actualization, by meditating or practicing yoga. We are currently developing a caring resource area for our ASN and BSN students, and we will begin implementing the use of heart math and em-wave technology to help them come into the heart space when they are providing patient care and when they need to care for themselves.
Many of the RN- BSN students come to our program feeling burned out and disenfranchised; by supporting their self-care efforts, some of these nurses fall back in love with nursing as they create sustainable caring-healing practices. As these nurses are able to truly care for themselves and their patients, they are also fortified with the strength and energy to create change in their workplaces.
Self care may sound like a challenge to some, but Janet Quinn calls for us to make what she calls “one degree changes”. What small things can you change in your routine or life to create a healing journey for yourself? It could be taking some “me time” for a bubble bath and a good book, starting an exercise or yoga routine to reduce stress just once/ week and building from there. Can you take the time for a creative outlet, like drawing or writing a simple poem like the one I wrote above (which I wrote during a long meeting as a reminder to myself to let go!). Can you learn how to stop during the tasks of the day and just be present and breathe deeply and fully throughout your whole body? Service to others has also been shown to be as effective as exercise at reducing stress levels in the body, so can you find an hour/ week to begin volunteering to help others?
I would love to hear your thoughts on self-care and how it can benefit not only you but the nursing profession at large. How can you, or how do you, make that one degree change to begin taking care of yourself?