Baby, it’s cold outside!

I worked in the former Soviet Union for over 15 years and spent many a Russian Winter in Siberia, Kazakhstan, Murmansk (north of the Arctic Circle), Armenia, and more. I also hosted scores of native Russians here in the United States during Chicago’s very cold winters. Once during an ice storm to Niagara Falls, it was too cold for any of us to get out of the van.

With an apartment in Moscow, I had to deal with windows that were not insulated (I think that they intentionally had open areas between what should have been weather-strip and the frame).  I once spent 2 weeks in Armenia during a winter storm when there was no heat, no hot water, and I slept fully clothed (including boots, scarf, gloves and coat). The snow came into the window (it did not close) as fast as it was coming down. The bedroom was an alcove within a central room; there was no door- just a curtain, and I felt the cold.

My hints for dealing with cold weather, which to me translates to single digits, is as follows:

  • Wear layers, including silk long-johns that insulate the entire body; yes, wear layers indoors as well as outside
  • Use glove warmers when possible (yes, they do work)
  • Consider a dual foot warmer that works like a heating pad, warming those tootsies before you have to get into bed with cold feet
  • Travel with a water boiling device that you place into a glass of water to create tea/coffee/hot chocolate
  • Pour yourself a glass or mug of hot water and wrap your hands around the cup to enhance warmth
  • Remember that heat loss through the scalp can be intense; keep your head covered with more than earmuffs; use a warm hat
  • Snuggle up; transfer of body heat is a great way to share the warmth and enhance the relationship
  • Keep a blanket in your car, along with an ice scraper, bag of sand or salt, mini shovel (from a toy store)
  • Keep your windshield wiper raised during a storm
  • Keep your gas tank filled; do not risk having to locate a gas station, and/or pump gas in extreme weather
  • If you attend sporting events in the cold, like I once did during a Bears’ playoff, make frequent visits to the restroom to warm your hands on the radiator.

Yes, you can survive and thrive during frigid weather – if you are prepared.

 

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Take time for YOU this holiday season

You work long hours; perhaps you work multiple jobs. Perhaps you do it because you need the money to survive, to thrive, and to create happy holiday celebrations and memories for your family.

But, think about it!  You are only as good as you are to yourself. Take time this holiday season, and if possible, throughout the year, to be good to yourself. Sleep a little longer, hydrate (with water) a little more, play with your kids (outdoors instead of connected to WiFi), make healthier food choices, go to the gym.

Whatever you do, make it about you, and the quality time you will spend, the benefits that you will reap, and how this holiday season will outshine others. How will that make you feel?

Who owns fatigue?

We are all stakeholders in the fatigue management process, and we all own it!

The employer can do much to shift the paradigm and create a culture of safety, wellness, and caring. Clear and compelling visions start us along a path of generating a future we deserve to have. In the healthcare setting, everyone assumes responsibility for patient safety and good outcomes.

Any employee is responsible for practicing healthy behaviors that reduce the risk for working while fatigued or sleepy, result in arriving to work alert and well rested, and promote a safe commute to and from work. This is true regardless of the industry in which one works! This responsibility might require that you reject a work assignment that compromises the availability of sufficient time for sleep and recovery from work – for example, when your shift ends at midnight, and you are expected to return to work, fully rested, by 7:00 a.m. We all have different recovery times. Our bodies and minds are unique, and this concept often involves scheduled shifts and mandatory or voluntary overtime. It is everyone’s responsibility to address one’s own, as well as co-worker, fatigue. Employees must be responsible and know their limits.

The system predicts the outcome, and the system must ensure positive outcomes for staff, clients, the public, and patients.

Attach a sense of urgency Partner with staff to ensure consistency of policy and procedures
Create a collaborative work environment Educate and empower staff
Identify the areas and practices that may result in staff fatigue Prioritize fatigue countermeasures and monitor effectiveness
Evaluate staffing and scheduling practices Offer opportunity for feedback and ideas for improvement
Engage staff in recruitment and retention activities and promote innovative strategies Follow the system

“I’m a workaholic, so I ignore the signs of fatigue and just keep going and going, and then conk out when I get home.

It can be pretty stressful.”  Keke Palmer

Who owns fatigue…we all do!

Beginnings…your time and mine

Have you ever thought that your life and your time were not your own? I have! And, it was true in so many ways. My life is simplified now, compared to the years between 1992 and 2004, when I worked about 100 hours per week and traveled monthly to countries in Eastern Europe. At that time, I directed the office of international affairs for a large hospital alliance, and 50% of my time was subcontracted to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). My role was to foster international partnerships between U.S. hospitals and their foreign counterparts. I loved the work, I loved the people with whom I interacted, and I loved my job. The hours were extreme, and I found myself in a constant state of catching up that left me always tired. Now, with a self-imposed work week of 40 hours, I feel I have dramatically simplified my life. I have time to work, write, teach, be with family, and give back to society. I have simplified my life by keeping up with less, not more.

I’ve taken lessons learned in less developed countries to heart as I have simplified my life. In my travels, I witnessed firsthand how simple life can be. Immediately following the earthquake in Yerevan, Armenia, on December 7, 1988, the only decent housing was in a former government hotel. Although the hotel offered neither heat nor hot water, I had a roof over my head and a clean bed. When there was no food in the hospital, our hosts offered bread. We ate it with an appreciation for what we had. With neither heat nor hot water, we made do. Our colleagues lacked so much, but their refinement of spirit and passion for their work were unsurpassed. They lived a simple life and yet a life of gratitude.

Now, as I visit that same part of the world and see the progress that has been made, I am sometimes saddened by the fact that my friends are now living more complex lives, just as I once did. They too are burning the candle at both ends; they too are dealing with carpools, school-aged kids, aging parents, and work/life balance. Call it progress…I do not!

Caught in the middle…and finding a path!

We know that we can aspire to, and reach greatness, if only we could reinvent ourselves and find that path.  Is it time for you to reinvent yourself?  I have done it several times.  Growing up with parents who told me to learn to type because I would never amount to anything, I believed them.  As the middle of 5 kids, I did not have the ‘middle child syndrome’, but I did have the ‘caught in the middle syndrome.’  And, I did not allow fear to get in my way. So, I started at an early age to identify ways in which I could better myself, learn and do more, achieve great heights, and then start all over again.

So, I started at an early age to identify ways in which I could better myself, learn and do more, achieve great heights, and then start all over again. Are you caught in the middle? Perhaps it is not in a family, but it might be in your career. Are you are a crossroad, and are you considering your next steps? It is not a secret that nurses in many healthcare settings are somewhat disenchanted with their careers.  Yes, they love the profession and want to remain in nursing and in balance.

As a young nurse, I, too, began my career with the option that would generate the highest salary, working nights, multiple shifts, and 7-10 day stretches at a time – for income, for excitement, and to fulfill my aspirations of what nursing was and could become.  Each of us has felt the same way at one time or another…idealistic, eager to offer service to mankind, eager to reach personal and professional fulfillment. I never lost sight of my why – why nursing!

I did not re-enter that ‘caught in the middle’ phase. Instead, I reinvented myself using my nursing knowledge, skills, and abilities. I use my nursing platform to educate, engage and empower others to get out of the middle and to get a life.

As a nursing professional, I have been fortunate to have worked in many modalities within nursing…from acute care and infusion therapy, to home care, outpatient, practice plan management, clinic management, education, and international work.  I have been blessed to have touched the lives of many people in many ways…but at no time in my own nursing career has that been truer than now.  I am out of the middle, as a Certified Speaking Professional, author, facilitator, and coach and a path that will allow me to be more, do more, and yes, speak more! How about you?

 

 

 

Follow the “Road to Stress Management”

We all have one life to live!  We all have the same 24 hours in each day, and we need to make the most of those hours and our lives. Can we separate our personal and professional lives? Can we have balance?

In B is for Balance, 12 steps toward a more balanced life at home and at work, 2nd edition, we answered that question. We did it so well that the book was awarded 1st Place in Consumer Health by the American Journal of Nursing in 2015. Now, we offer a workbook to guide the reader to an awareness of what is needed to create, and sustain balance!  This is The Road to Stress Management. 

This is it…the ultimate workbook to accompany the award-winning book – with a Stress Management Thought at the end of each chapter. Available next week at http:/smwgroupllc.com and http:/sharonmweinstein.com

Negotiating for balance

 

Tired – overworked – emotionally and physically drained?  Are your aging parents challenged, or is your young child ill?  Is your partner out of work, or overworked? If any of these scenarios describe you, you may be in need of balance. If you know your skills, abilities, and performance record are strong and valued, you have a solid footing for negotiating flexible work arrangements.

What is negotiation? Practically, it’s making the other person an offer or proposal that he or she may find more attractive than the next best alternative. Some consider negotiation to be the art of making deals. It is certainly that, but it also involves educating the other party about merits of your offer or proposal or talents, skills, and actual and potential contributions. Negotiation is a key component of creating workplace balance and thus avoiding burnout. To negotiate successfully, you must do some advance planning. The process is simple, but each step is critical to the outcome.

  1. Be prepared. Follow the tips and understand the rationale; know what you want and understand what the other party wants.
  2. Open with your case; this demonstrates confidence. Then, listen actively.
  3. Support your case with facts.
  4. Explore areas of agreement and disagreement, and seek understanding and possibilities.
  5. Indicate your readiness to work together.
  6. Know your options.
  7. Advance to closure by confirming the details.
  8. Make it happen!
Tip Rationale
Know what you are willing to accept and be honest about your requirements You will be empowered in support of your interests.

Your listener will recognize your confidence level.

Do not disclose what you are willing to accept in terms of salary or conditions.  Have a deal-breaker in mind, i.e., lack of flexibility in hours. This will compromise your negotiating power.
Determine what the other party is willing to accept. It is better to know the alternatives up-front than to second-guess.
Be an active listener, like a student. Assume there are things about the situation that you don’t understand.

Let the other party know that you have heard and understood what has been said.

Make the art of negotiation your key to balance!