This year, I’ve made 3 New Year’s resolutions that I know can help make me a better nurse. They are small things, but I believe they will make a difference in the way I feel about myself and my work.
I work three 12-hour night shifts per week on a 30-bed, step-down surgical oncology unit. I have to keep going for long stretches of time. Sometimes, I don’t sit down for 5 or 6 hours. To sustain myself both physically and emotionally, I plan to: eat healthier, stay connected with my friends, and spend time with my dogs.
When I was younger, I could get through the night shift with one small bag of potato chips or pretzels, and lots of coffee. That was back in the days of 8-hour shifts. Hospitals have eliminated the early evening shift now. Nowadays, I end up bringing lots of food to get through the long nights. My resolution is to bring more vegetables, like a salad with carrots, radishes, and tomatoes, to fuel me.
I realize that fuel in the form of nutrient-packed food, like proteins and carbs will get me through long stretches of time and keep my hunger satisfied. I usually bring vegetables, plus a can of tuna in olive oil, and of course, pretzels and Diet Pepsi. Bringing my favorite comfort foods to work makes me feel like I’m taking care of myself.
I also resolved to make sure to connect more frequently with my best friend from social work grad school. She works in the morning, so frequently, we catch each other when she is going to work and I am going home. We are both sleepy. In the evening, if I talk to her, it is when I am battling rush hour traffic to go downtown, and she is going in the opposite direction. We are both in stressful jobs, so connecting early in the morning and in the evening gives us the means of putting our day or night in perspective.
I have several rescue dogs ranging in age from 7 to almost 15 years. Spending time with them brings me joy. Caring for these dogs also makes me feel connected to the animals I had when I was younger. I truly miss those dogs and I have found peace of mind by putting those experiences into caring for the animals I have now.
I think my New Year’s resolutions for self-care will make me stronger, relieve stress, and add joy to my life. I hope other nurses can identify the things that give them strength, make resolutions, and focus more on them to help offset tough times on the job.