Some aspects of my nursing I felt like I could see what was happening, I was doing it, doing a good job at that, going through the motions. But I couldn’t breathe properly, literally and metaphysically. I felt trapped. Felt like all I could see was an ocean of shift upon shift with no relief. I wasn’t functioning at my best. I wasn’t fully present. As if my energy was so low and had been used up. Each day I was trying to turn up at 100% but my battery charge was sitting at below 10%.
I felt triggered by my lack of balance. Night shift was one of my biggest challenges. I would often find myself crying when I woke up in the early afternoon and then again on my way to work. Knowing as I ate dinner that this was my breakfast & my breakfast was my dinner confused even me. I didn’t understand how other nurses were seemingly ok. Was I the only one feeling this way?
I remember one specific shift I received a post cardiac surgery patient back which is standard surgery for this unit. But things didn’t go as planned and we had massive output from one of the SCC’s. This wasn’t wasn’t uncommon for some post cardiac patients however I felt a change in my chest.
At this point I could feel my chest tightening. My heart rate becoming irregular. It felt like palpitations.
I got one of my team to take my pulse, it was regular.
These episodes were become more common. I got check ups with my GP. My ECG’s were all normal. I was suffering from anxiety.
I was encouraged to take magnesium. Increase my sleep and rest. But I’m working shift work? I work night shifts?
Go to bed at the same time each day. Eat regular meals… but I’m a nurse…
You get it.
At that point I couldn’t control my work hours. But I could choose what I was eating. I was taking vitamin b, magnesium, supplements.
I was exercising when I had enough energy. Seeing GP, psychologist, Kinesiologist, Reiki Master, healer, Chinese Medicine Doctor. Spending time outside. I began meditating most days 5 -10mins.
The complementary therapies kept discussing this concept that I had ‘adrenal fatigue’. I just had no energy no matter how much I tried to catch up on sleep!
I started taking St. Johns Wort for my low mood and had been told that I was suffering from circumstantial depression. I was so aware that I had become resentful to the profession of nursing and all the intense emotions/experiences it had welcomed into my life.
The big changes didn’t happen until I made some real change. When I started getting real about myself and what was happening. My body had switched off, I wasn’t happy. It wasn’t because I couldn’t do the work.
My mind, body and soul didn’t want me to do this work in this capacity any longer.
I studied Reiki and Neuro-Training and now I am a practitioner of both. I practice meditation every day. Movement and mindfulness. It hasn’t been an easy journey.
In that time and space I had forgotten what it felt like to be me. My guidance of ‘sarah’ was so skewed. I was depleted of energy in all resepcts.
If I could time travel I wouldn’t change it though. Nursing has taught me compassion. It has given me a depth of insight and perspective into the suffering of human nature. It has taught me to find balance in life and pushed me to explore more than what I had ever known. It has pushed me to search for supports that our university degree’s don’t provide and our hospital systems don’t have time for… it has been the process of supporting this sharing of ‘The Nurtured Nurse Project!’
The reason I want to share this is that for many people who become nurses we have the best intentions. We want to help others and that we do. But to what extent to our own health. To what extent our own livelihood and how can we provide ourselves this balance.
I’m not saying everyone needs to drop their hours or redirect their path of work. I’m also not suggesting that everyone will have a similar experience to me. What I am suggesting is implementing supports and habits within your life that can support you to live as a nurse in a healthy & sustainable way.
Learning techniques so that you can deal with the stress and responsibility. Learning how to reflect after a shift and let go so that you can sleep. Learning what points to hold when you are overwehlemed. Learning what points to rub when you do feel exhausted.
Simply knowing that you are not the only one feeling this way can be the biggest support. Acknowledging to all nurses that these feelings can come up and can be warning signs of burnout.
Do what you need to do to make nursing sustainable for you! If you want to have energy for your life!
As well as a Nurse educator I am now a licensed Pillar Practitioner and work 1:1 with nurses supporting them to connected back into their peace, purpose, power of life. Look out for ‘The Nurtured Nurse Workshop’ a 6 hour workshop instilling new techniques and practical supports to help your nursing career remain sustainable!