5 life lessons we can learn from our nurses

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Amy Osmond Cook

At some point, everybody’s life has been impacted by a nurse. From birth (or giving birth) to the time you broke your arm in the same game you broke the team record for blocks, or in the twilight hours of your life, a nurse has been there offering care, a listening ear, or a loving embrace. This year, the National Nurses Association has designated 2017 as the “Year of the Healthy Nurse.” As we celebrate National Nurses Week on May 6 - 12, let’s take a moment to thank nurses for the lessons they share through their example.

Here are five lessons a nurse teaches us about life.

 

1. Have patience.

You didn’t realize it, but while you were being helped into your bed, six other patients were buzzing for help. “Finding patience, managing the losses, feeling the grief, trying to work through your resentments will wear on you,” Denise Brown, a contributor and caregiver, says.  Instead, Brown says to focus on your reality. “You can't do it all. You aren't meant to do it all. Determine what you can do during a day while still having some down time. Then, do just that. Stay flexible with your priorities.”

 

2. Relax.

In a culture that believes everything must be handled ASAP, the role of a nurse reminds us to step back and find a way to relax. For example, as a popular remedy for treating patients suffering from anxiety or muscle tension, the basic massage can a secret weapon for igniting much-needed energy to finish your day. “We bring in a massage therapist for students and staff every few weeks where they can receive a 15-minute neck and upper back massage,” Julie Aiken, CEO of Ameritech College of Healthcare, said.

 

Music has the same effect. “We’ve been known to break out the tunes when the time is right,” LuAnn Walker, activities director at Lake Ridge Senior Living, said. “We love how much music lightens the atmosphere and creates a relaxing, positive vibe for our nurses and our guests.”

 

3. Schedule time for yourself.

You can be fully committed to your job, your family, or your business, but a nurse reminds us to show that same commitment to personal time. Whether it is a hike with friends, a long, hot bath, knitting, gardening, or yoga, you need to take some time to sort out feelings and focus on what’s good in your life. Many nurses turn to meditation for relaxation. 

 

The practice of meditation has been used for thousands of years as a tool for relieving stress and anxiety and providing clarity on our relationship with surrounding elements. “Our nursing philosophies are grounded in caring and the interconnectedness of the mind, body, spirit, social/cultural, emotions, relationships, context, and environment,” Aiken says. “All of these aspects combine to create a person; in order to heal the whole person.” A 15-minute investment in personal reflection and meditation can prepare someone to experience hours of peace throughout the day. 

 

4. Listen to your body.

A nurse knows better than anyone the difference early detection has on a patient. So, listen to what your body is trying to tell you about your health. “Practicing preventative measures for maintaining good health is a habit you never outgrow,” Liz Jacobsen, team lead at Copper Ridge Health Care, said. Whether it is getting regular check-ups, adjusting diet, increasing exercise, or eliminating harmful habits, healthy living starts with adopting healthy habits.

 

5. Keep things in perspective.

Everybody has those days where it seems like trouble shows up with a vengeance. But, remember, people depend on you for your knowledge, abilities, patience, and empathy. So when those feelings of discouragement settle in, it’s time to divert them. In a profession that requires constant caring for others, leadership expert Dan Rockwell says to let someone care for you for a change. “Hang with positive people or schedule time to do more of what you love.” It’s OK to be sad or frustrated for a moment, but then it’s time to get up and move forward.

 

Truthfully, a nurse has touched all of our lives in some capacity. During National Nurses Week, take a moment to thank a nurse for the valuable life lessons that have influenced you and those you care about.