7 Ways to Get Proper Rest

By Liz Scala

 

One of the greatest challenges that every nurse faces at one point in their career is lack of sleep.  Working as a nurse, we are sometimes put on various shifts.  We are asked to swing back and forth between days and nights.  We get brought in for on-calls, which could be a random night shift mixed into a run of 12 hour days.  Or we are placed on permanent night-shift, even when undesired, to help unit staffing when resources are scarce.

Not only does the professional staffing model of nursing create sleep disturbances, but our own experiences as a nurse often adds fuel to the fire.  When I worked on my unit, I would lie awake for up to 2-3 hours, unable to fall asleep.  I would get up at 3 or 4 am with my mind racing about staff, patients, and work issues.  I would toss and turn or go into my other bedroom in an attempt to change the scenery as a way to trick myself back to sleep.  I was constantly thinking about my job and had trouble letting go and drifting off.  Then in the mornings, as the alarm clock would get ready to ring, I would be wide awake watching the minutes and seconds go by wishing it was not yet time to get out of bed.

We take care of difficult patients.  We observe death and pathology.  We work with challenging personalities.  No wonder we have a lot on our minds!  But sleeping, or not sleeping, in this way can lead to terrible problems.  Mistakes can be made at work if our concentration is poor or our minds are foggy.  Moods can swing as we feel irritable, exhausted, and overwhelmed.  Illness can exacerbate as inadequate rest can lead to depression, weight gain, and decreased immune function.

So what do we do with all of this?  How can we ensure we receive proper rest?  Well, there are a couple of things.

If you can, try to get on a schedule.  I know with shift work sometimes this is impossible.  But the more you can get onto a schedule of bedtime at 10 pm and waking up at 6 am each day, the easier it will be for you to quickly drift off.

Keep your bed and your room just for sleeping.  Do not lie in bed while on the computer.  Do not watch TV and try to “fall asleep.”  Read in a comfortable chair before bed, but not in the bed itself.  You have to train your body to know that when you get into the bed; it is time for rest.  (And I have heard people say that TV or radio helps them sleep- it might feel that way, but it is not the restful rejuvenating sleep you need because your subconscious is still tuned on listening to the background noise).

Journal in the evening.  I find it helpful to write out what I am grateful for, what I got done each day, and what I plan for the next day so that when I lay down it is not inside my head thus causing my mind to race.  Getting it out onto paper gets it out of our minds.

Do not eat or drink too close to bedtime.  I notice when I cut off my water intake at 6 pm, I do not get up those nights to use the bathroom at all.  Same thing with food; if you eat too close to bedtime it will cause issues like indigestion and strange dreams.  Not to mention your body might be awake because it has to work harder to digest all that food so close to bedtime.

Get activity and movement in each day.  If you don’t do anything physical during the day, that gets your heart rate pumping, your body isn’t really going to be tired or need any rest.  It didn’t do anything!  So get outside and get moving.  Fresh air is a great way to charge up during the day so that you can rest well during the night!

Try aromatherapy or oils.  I spray a bit of lavender chamomile mist onto my pillow some nights and notice those are the evenings that I really drift off quite quickly!

Create an environment conducive for sleep.  Keep a dark, cool room.  The worst thing is to wake up seating and hot.  Turn down the lights to prepare for peaceful relaxation and quiet time.

 

About the Author: Liz Scala writes about Health and Wellness monthly for AMSDaily. You can visit her  blog at Living Sublime Wellness to read more on these topics. She is also one of the authors of the book, “The Best Inspirational Storie I Ever Read: Guide to a Purposeful Life”.

 

What is the “Rejuvenation Collaboration” and why you should join?

 

 

By Liz Scala

 

The Rejuvenation Collaboration is being held to provide health care professionals, helpers, and healers with tools so they can FULLY care for themselves at a mind, body, emotion, and spirit level. We have set up the series so that participants receive balanced information on self-care and stress management. Topics will be diverse in nature to speak to the truth that wellness comes from living a life of healthy balance. Presentations will include a variety of themes; from nutrition to movement, from breath work to mindfulness, from purpose to communication, from energy modalities to listening techniques – all with the goal to rejuvenate and recharge the busy, stressed out nurse.

There is so much information out there on health, wellness, and well-being. It can get overwhelming, even stressful, trying to uncover and figure out what works best for you.  Not only that, but “Holistic” has become a highly used catch-phrase. Many of us know that we should be doing things for our health or that we could be trying new modalities, but we just lack the resources, time, and money to tackle all of the remedies we would love to try.

The Rejuvenation Collaboration is a “one-stop” shop for well-being. At times, even I have been overwhelmed with all of the holistic modalities out there that I could train in, practice, or try. It has been helpful along my wellness journey to attend conferences, workshops, and tele-series (like this one) that offer a variety of materials. This way I can get a sampling of what is available to me and then walk away with a greater understanding of what works for me, what I enjoy, and what I would like to pursue further!  How are you going to know what you like or don’t like unless you try it?

We have been working long and hard with each of the presenters to create workshops that are experiential and interactive. (We are doing all that we can to avoid the “school” type feeling of being lectured at!). We would love for you to be able to walk away from this event with tools that you can put into practice immediately in your everyday life and manage stress more efficiently. We want you to be able to leave with a variety of modalities so you can then choose to follow up with the specific techniques that most spoke to you. We really just want you to feel, experience, and embrace new and holistic methods that you can put into practice each and every day.

We want to help you care for yourself at a mind, body, emotional, and spiritual level. After all, you do so much for others, isn’t it time you did something for yourself?

During my career, I have experienced burnout and compassion fatigue.  I have been stressed, overwhelmed, and tired. I have been disgruntled, frustrated, and irritated with work. At my lowest points, my times of great misery and illness, I didn’t have the tools or the resources to cope with what was going on around and inside of me. I wasn’t sure what to do to make myself feel better. Looking back on it now, I would have loved to be able to learn how to manage stress and attend some sort of supportive event that took care of the busy nurse – me!

Being a health care professional, while rewarding, is also an extremely stressful career. I don’t have to tell you this; you know it. We witness illness, tragedy, and death. We suffer from sleep disorders, post traumatic stress, and “second victim” syndrome. It is tough, tough work. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that there was a place that you could go to for relaxation and rejuvenation? There is. We have created this series so that you can create a caring network of your own. The speakers, myself, and all involved are fantastic resources of support that you can turn to with questions, concerns, and conversations – even after the event is over! And who knows…maybe you will meet another participant during the event that turns out to be a really good friend. My hope is that all of us will meet a new colleague that we feel comfortable and close to – that we can turn to in a time of need.

We just really want you to take care of you, to get the mechanisms you need to make nurse self-care easy, accessible, and your first priority. We have a great group of speakers so come on by www.livingsublimewellness.com/rejuvenation-collaboration and sign-up today!

For more information, contact Coach Scala at coachscala@livingsublimewellness.com or go to http://livingsublimewellness.com/rejuvenation-collaboration for more information!

 

Editor’s Note: Read more about Elizabeth Scala’s exclusive interview on amsdaily.net this Saturday! Get to  know the amazing woman behind this sought-after wellness program and workshop. Stay tuned.

 

About the Author: Liz Scala writes about Health and Wellness monthly for AMSDaily. You can visit her  blog at Living Sublime Wellness to read more on these topics. She is also one of the authors of the book, “The Best Inspirational Storie I Ever Read: Guide to a Purposeful Life”.

Journaling

 

By Liz Scala

Lately I’ve been extremely busy; as any nurse has been at one time… or is ALL of the time!  I notice that my mind is racing, thoughts are coming and going quickly, and I feel scattered.  Currently I balance my part-time role as a clinical nurse research fellow, my role as a nurse in a wellness center, and my own health coaching practice.  As my coaching business is relatively new; there is a ton of work to do.  Writing articles, meeting people for strategic alliance meetings, conference calls, and my own reading and educating myself to keep me up with the times are just some of the things I am juggling.  I am sure, as a busy professional in whatever line of work you do; you also must balance it all. 

You might care for patients as a nurse; watching monitors, hanging fluids, administering medications, speaking with family, and coordinating discharge plans… sometimes all at the same time!  Or you might be a school administrator; coordinating meetings, creating lesson plans, following up with staffing issues.  No matter what role you find yourself in; as a professional… you are busy!

This “busyness” comes with a price; a cost to our health the busier we get.  While there are physical signs of stress, sometimes mental strains are more bothersome.  This is what’s been going on with me.  My mind cannot stop.  There’s constant chatter; did I get everything done?  Did I miss something?  Am I doing it all?  Where’s my “to-do” list?  What do I work on next?  It goes and goes and goes; even, unfortunately, when we lie down to rest. 

So what can we do to let some of this mind overload go?  While there are many tools we can use to lighten the burden of our thoughts; there is one specific strategy I want to share today: journaling.

Journaling is a great form of “mind dump,” so to speak.  It is a wonderful way to get thoughts out of the head and onto the page.  What are some specific forms of journaling that you can try?

  1. Morning Pages: I recently heard a talk given by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way.  She shared with us the power of this journaling strategy she calls, Morning Pages.  It is very simple and easy to do.  All she suggests is that you get up and write first thing in the morning, before doing anything, three pages of long-hand stream-of-consciousness writing.  That is it.  It does not have to be artistic, creative, or even well-written.  The point is just to get your thoughts out onto paper so that you are free of clouded thinking throughout your day.
  2. Gratitude Journaling: This is something I read in an article for a coaching course I was in, by Martin Seligman.  He suggests that each night, before going to bed, to write down all of the things you are grateful for.  What went well in your day?  Who can you thank for what happened to you?  What blessings and gifts did you receive?  Why are you grateful?  Writing this all down will ultimately help you in the long run as you are more aware of your blessings and less troubled by worrisome thoughts.
  3. Unsent letters: This is a strategy Kathleen Adams shares in her book, Journal to the Self.  Think about all of the things you would like to say to someone, but never could, would, or have.  This tool is wonderful as you do not have to censor your writing because the point of it is that no one will ever see it!  You are writing a letter to someone and getting all of those thoughts and emotions about them out of your head and onto the paper. 

So whatever tool you decide upon, these are only three examples of many, try to spend 10 minutes out of your day writing out your thoughts.  If you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and busy then journaling is something that can help you get your thoughts out of your head and onto the paper.  No one has to see it.  Let it be a place for you to work through things, get ideas, tap into creativity, and learn more about yourself.  Journaling is a great stress reducer.  It is cost effective and doesn’t take a lot of time!  Let me know if you’d like other journal topic ideas as I love this strategy and use it myself!

***Photo from http://www.scrapbooksbydesign.net/scrapbook-journaling.html

 

About the Author: Liz Scala writes about Health and Wellness monthly for AMSDaily. You can visit her  blog at Living Sublime Wellness to read more on these topics. She is also one of the authors of the book, “The Best Inspirational Storie I Ever Read: Guide to a Purposeful Life”.

 

Create Time for Yourself

By Liz Scala

 

I’ve recently put forth a question to all of the nurses I know about their biggest challenge that gets in the way of their self-care.  I received many replies and noticed a theme emerge.  Nurses responding with things like “I just do not have time to fit in any fun after work” or “I can’t find the time to balance it all.”  The common thread was one word: time.  Now while I share from my experience, that of being and working with nurses, I would like to bet that many, many of us can relate to the feelings of not having the “time” for ME!

For nurses, time is a challenge to our self-care; with working 12 hour shifts, getting called in to help when there is a call-out, or working weekends/holidays.  Nursing is a busy profession and it seems like we are always on the job!  I am sure there are others out there who can look at their own line of work, their own professional experiences, and share the experiences I am offering here today.  But our own health should not be placed on the back burner to our careers.  We can be busy, productive professionals; but not at the expense of our own well-being!

I challenge you to make your self-care your #1 priority.  However, in order to do this I’d like to share some tips.  These are strategies that I have used and seen work with other nurses.  I hope you find these helpful to making more space for yourself!

1.  Change your Mind Set.  How many of you put other people first?  Be honest.  We all do.  As nurses, we put patients first.  Then, we come home and put children and spouses first.  I encourage you to start thinking of yourself first.  Be selfish.  Think of yourself as #1.  Make yourself your first priority.  Our thoughts become our actions so when you think of yourself as important you will treat yourself in that way.

2.  Say No.  Another tricky one for nurses; we want to help everyone.  But if we keep saying “yes” to every request our plate will fill up leaving no room for ourselves.  Get a buddy or call a trusted family member and practice saying “no” to people.  If you are too busy taking care of everyone else and giving in to everyone else’s needs you will surely burn out quickly and be unable to be productive in anything you do!

3.  Get Organized.  Get a planner.  And if you have a planner; buy a special pen that is just for your self-care activities.  Schedule yourself in.  Write your work-out time down.  Put in your relaxation time onto your calendar.  That way when someone comes to you asking for help, you already have “an appointment” (with yourself) and you do not even have to worry about feeling awkward saying “no.”

4.  Prioritize.  Follow your energy for your “to-do” list.  Do the things that you enjoy first.  Tackle the tasks that use your strengths.  By doing things you enjoy you will waste less time procrastinating with the things you really do not feel like doing.  Look at your “to-do” list and start with the things that give you joy.  You will notice yourself getting things done much faster that way!

5.  Cut Out Distractions.  I love this one (although I am still working on it!).  How much time do you waste surfing the web?  What amount of time do you sit watching reality TV?  Try this experiment: carry a stop watch with you and measure how much “useless activity” you spend your time in.  I bet if you cut out all that time spent on Facebook or Twitter you would have hours of time to spend on your own self-care.

6.  Slow Down.  What is “time” really?  They say the past is over, the future has not come, but the present is a gift.  Live in the now.   Avoid rushing from one thing to the next, or worse yet, multi-tasking.  Focus on what you are doing in the moment.  By doing this you will free up a lot of your time as you will get things done more efficiently and effectively.  And quit saying, “I have no time for that” because how you are using your time will surely free up space for yourself.

7.  Breathe.  Spend 5 minutes each day just sitting quietly, with eyes closed, back straight, watching your breathing.  Focus on the inhalation and exhalation fully.  Do this each day and you will feel clearer and more focused.  Creating a settled, quiet mind will create more calm.  Peace of mind will bring time for you.

 

I welcome any comments or questions that this article brings up.  Please contact me if you have any thoughts on this topic as it interests me greatly! Email me at coachscala@livingsublimewellness.com and check out my free monthly wellness workshops at http://livingsublimewellness.com/supportive-calls.

5 Winning Strategies to Prioritize Yourself

Photo of Randy Legaspi

By Liz Scala

Over the past several weeks I have been involved in various workshops, have had conversations with mentors and guides, and have heard other people share with me their struggles- all around saying “no”… around putting the Self first.  I am not sure why it is but human beings, especially caregivers, tend to do for others but not for themselves.  So while I am a registered nurse and share from my own experiences as such, these words can really apply to anyone in a caregiver role- a parent, an adult taking care of elderly parents, a friend, a teacher, a sibling, etc.  There are so many instances where human beings are constantly putting others first and as a result of this- putting their own care, their own health, last.

So I know that we, as nurses, continually give so much of ourselves.  While being compassionate, nurturing, and caring, which are parts of our professional and personal roles; we shouldn’t let this “giving nature” put our own self-care in jeopardy.  We must allow ourselves to rest on the other side of the giving relationship; being open to receive.  We have welcome support and help along the way.  

Why is this important?  Well, what’s the cost to our well-being if we are unable to easily receive?  Our health is at risk.  If we always give of ourselves we will burn out fast.  If we are unable to fill own self-care tank we run on empty. 

In my previous role as an inpatient psychiatric nurse, I was so fixated on helping everyone on my unit.  I used up all of my energy giving to others that I almost passed out during work!  If we are constantly taking care of others, who is taking care of us?  If we are rushing all day from one task to another, helping people around us, we won’t have enough time for ourselves.  

We might be up late getting projects done for others so our sleep or relaxation time suffers.  We could wind up with physical health concerns such as stress headaches, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, and even pain.  We have to care for our own bodies, minds, and spirits and one way we can do so is through being more receptive to support from other people. 

Here are some easy strategies I suggest to get started:

  • Shift Your Mindset.  In order to be able to receive you have to change the way you think of yourself.  We often put loved ones, friends, or work first leaving little room for ourselves.  Start to see yourself as number one.  If you begin to think of yourself as your first priority you will start to act that way.  Our thoughts become our actions.  So check in with yourself.   Think about where you rank on your priority list.  Do you come first?  Or do you always put yourself last? 
  • Practice with Little Things First.  Observe this scenario:  “Sally, I really like your hair!”  “Oh gee, it’s a mess Sue!  I was running late and didn’t get to blow dry it today!!”  Sue: “Well, it really looks good today; I like it that way.”  Sally: “Well, you must need glasses!”  Are you like Sally in this vignette; finding it hard to take compliments?  This is where you can start with a major change.  Accept the compliments people offer.  Just say “Thank you” and feel good about yourself.  Start by receiving the nice things people say.  Believe me, once you start with something small, like taking a compliment that is offered, you will be more readily able to accept a helping hand when it is extended.
  • Check Your Pride at The Door.  We are not superwomen or supermen!  We are not on this planet alone.  No one told us we must do it all by ourselves.  If this was the case, why are there over 6.8 Billion people on this earth?  We are all individual beings with unique qualities.  We are all here to help each other.  Yes, you can help others.  Yes, it is great to be a giving and caring person.  But this is not to be done at the expense of your own health and well-being.  Accept the help offered to you and realize you are not a Cartoon Character Hero like Mighty Duck!
  • Practice Being Realistic.  Many times when I was working on the inpatient unit I felt that I had to do it all.  I could not leave the shift until every “T” was crossed and every “I” was dotted.  Let me share something simple with you: nursing is a 24/7 job.  There will always be the next shift.  Realize you cannot get it all done EVERY single time.  Allow others to help you out and receive the teamwork’s hand.  You share your help and giving nature all of the time; why not allow others to share theirs with you?
  • Engage In A Healing Practice.  You may come across blocks within your own psyche relating to receiving.  If you need support there are available resources everywhere.  Treat yourself to a massage.  Take a Spa day.  Attend a sound healing concert.  Get a Reiki treatment.  Find a way to heal and welcome support from others.  Slow down and create space for receptivity.

 

About the Author: Liz Scala writes about Health and Wellness monthly for AMSDaily. You can visit her  blog at Living Sublime Wellness to read more on these topics. 

 

 

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