Nurses are caring experts. Our hearts and minds are open to selflessly pour out our beings through our actions, thoughts, presence, prayers, passion, and love to our patients. We never doubt this giving; we believe undeniably, because it is right, it is just and we are living what we have been called to do.
Yet, when it comes to our own needs, we can fall short. We neglect the very heart and soul that has been sharing its self for hours, years, decades; a lifetime. We become tired, weak, irritable, and forgetful. Our joyfulness becomes dampened by a heaviness difficult to describe. Apathy? Indifference? Laziness? Not us!!! No! This cannot be! We have shared so much, so why do we feel triviality, when we used to feel such significance?
Suffering from burnout, or worse, compassion fatigue is heart wrenching. One moment you feel alive, knowing, and connected, like you are saving the world, and then in what feels like the next moment, you are lifeless, limp, dark, and uncertain. It consumes you, and then you think about leaving Nursing, because you feel you’ve lost your innate ability to care.
I am here to tell you, no PLEAD with you…, YOU MUST NOT LEAVE! You are suffering, and just like your patients, you must seek healing. You have not lost your abilities, your passion, your skill, or your love for your patients. You have just lost your way and you must receive healing.
The truth is, we can’t wait until we are broken to heal ourselves; we need healing daily (and ac meals, qid, qhs and prn). We must seek reminders about why we ‘live’ Nursing in our daily practice. We must connect to colleagues, to share the suffering, horror, sadness, and grief we feel from day to day. And we must also seek a non-judgmental space to share our success, joy, laughter, and the beauty of what we witness in our patients. We must eat nourishing food. We must drink water to replenish our thirst. We must go to the restroom when nature calls, not just once a shift. We must support our peers and share in their success. We must get rest and sleep. We must get out in nature. We must exercise our physical body. We must find quiet time to calm our busy minds, and we must take time to deeply listen to our heart: for it knows what it needs to heal.