Wellness, stress, balance...and resilience

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Excerpt

In this month's issue, we reveal the results of our Wellness Survey, indicating that we certainly have our stressors at work and are balancing them with finding joy and personal wellness activities. At least, we're trying to stay sound, with half us agreeing that we have work-life balance. In the spirit of the American Nurses Association's Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation initiative and in pursuit of balance, let's focus on building resilience—the ability to bounce back and go with the flow. It's healthful, it's the opposite of burnout, and we all need it.
What are the to-dos and approaches that build resilience? To start, managing yourself is primary. It may sound old, but physical well-being can't be understated. Getting enough sleep, eating well, managing chronic conditions, and enjoying some form of simple exercise (yes, it can and should be enjoyed) are basic. You know if they're lacking that your tolerance is, too.
That's the easy part. Now for our mental well-being. As one of my favorite professors and colleagues would say, use reflection and find the positive about yourself and the situation you're facing. Sometimes it may seem that everyone else is looking for the negative—go high when they go low. Rising above doesn't mean that we aren't learning from mistakes and looking for ways to improve; rather, it means we're moving forward.
Using positive intent works not only for ourselves, but also in how we perceive others and their actions. Being nonjudgmental is hard work. Practicing forgiveness is even harder. Then let it go. Keeping things in perspective helps balance our reactions (and overreactions).
Don't waste energy on things out of your control. Yes, we should persevere for what's right and aligned with our values, but at the same time stay centered on what we can change. This includes our emotional responses, although it may take a bit of time to realize that perspective matters.
Focusing on gratitude also builds resilience. Beginning or ending meetings with appreciation, whether one-on-one or in groups, supports both engagement and mental strength. Allowing ourselves to be grateful isn't just for the Thanksgiving season. Don't let anyone limit your joy. Use your support systems, at work and at home.
We can't end the to-do list without mindfulness. It doesn't mean that you have to meditate or start chanting, although those methods may work for you. It means being in the moment, actually experiencing it without your mind being somewhere else. Even trying to take photos and videos can distract from being in the moment. It reminds me of true listening, not the make-believe listening we practice when our minds are somewhere else or already formulating a reply. Then there's mindful eating, something that we can forget but is needed for meal enjoyment and even portion control. Mindfulness practice also means just breathing with awareness. Take a deep breath. Repeat.
Being mentally strong is a huge component of well-being and stress reduction. You can do this. Think (positively) and breathe (mindfully). Self-care isn't selfish.
For the full results of our Wellness Survey, see page 24.
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