The Covid-19 pandemic is the most challenging time you have probably experienced of your nursing careers. It has changed your life and has most likely challenged your resilience. Building your resilient zone helps you navigate the highs and lows of life without taxing yourself physically, mentally and emotionally.
If you become hyper-vigilant and irritable, or depressed, disengaged, apathetic, or numb, you may have exceeded your zone’s limits, according to Cynda Rushton, PhD, RN, of Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. That’s the time that you need to pay attention to you and do things that help nourish you.
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What are some ways to return to your resilient zone? A recent study in the Journal of Holistic Nursing found that the most frequent self-care activities to build resilience were humor and music, followed by praying, healthy sleep habits, reading, and mindfulness. Here are a few ways to build yourself up and strengthen your ability to handle stress and the many challenges ahead.
Laughter could help alleviate mental and physiological stress. Swiss researchers found that daily guffaws could reduce symptoms after a stressful event. What’s more: intensity isn’t a factor. It doesn’t matter whether the daily laughs were giggles or full-throated, belly ones.
Put it to work for you: Find humor in everyday occurrences—the mundane and the ridiculous. Commit to watching a stand-up comedy special on Netflix or a quick hit like our Daily Diversion in our newsletter, The Daily Huddle.
Before you roll your eyes, and think ‘duh;’ it might not be for the reason you think. Research out of the University of British Columbia suggests that how much you sleep could affect our situational outlook. Basically, a good night’s sleep helps you see the positive in any situation.
Specifically, the amount of sleep from the prior night is linked to how positively you might be affected by the day’s events, but not the negative. What does this look like? Imagine how this might play out after a particularly difficult shift. Having a shorter-than-usual night of sleep could mean the difference between taking stock of the good and the bad, or just seeing the bad without finding any good.
In addition, nights with less-than-normal hours of sleep meant events that would normally be seen as positive were not enjoyed as much.
Put it to work for you: Try to sleep an extra 29 minutes per night. This can help benefit daily wellbeing and work performance, according to a study of 61 nurses published in Sleep Health.
Losing yourself in a book could be the ultimate stress reducer. According to a 2009 study at the University of Sussex, reading reduces stress by 68%. It works better and faster than other relaxation methods, such as listening to music or drinking a hot cup of tea. The reasons why are simple: it focuses your mind on what’s in front of you, it keeps you still which can help decrease blood pressure and heart rate, and it calms you by diverting your attention from your anxiety feedback look.
Put it to work for you: Make reading part of your life. Carry a book with you. Leave magazines and books lying around your home and in your car.