Back on campus, and back to stress!

So you’ve arrived on campus to begin or continue your undergraduate studies! Perhaps you are a returning graduate student focused on completing your education and moving on with life! There is so much to do, and no time in which to get it done. The first few days can be hectic until you are settled into a routine. And, then what?   Suddenly what appeared to be an easy transition has become a life challenge, and you wonder how you will ever manage the process and get through each day you’re your mind intact.

Sound familiar? That is because college can be a challenging and stressful time for students, both grad and undergrad, and learning how to adapt while creating work/life balance is critical to one’s success and survival. And, it does not stop with work/life; what about academics and social activities? What about sports, family, and more?

I’ve heard students say that college life is like a tightrope; there are so many entities tugging at you for time and attention, and you may be overwhelmed. You have your academic workload, your growing social circle and all their activities, your friends and family back home, career and/or grad school decisions to make, your physical fitness to attain or maintain, work hours, and your spiritual well-being to nurture. Add roommate problems and boyfriend/girlfriend relationship issues, and now you know why you are over your head with concern.

How can you cope? Use these 5 simple tips for finding life balance in college, and begin to deal with the distractions that you would otherwise face:

  • Have realistic goals
  • Develop good study habits
  • Manage your time wisely
  • Try healthy eating
  • Exercise and learn when to say no, and when to let go!

Back on campus and back to stress…make an effort to remain stress-free and on-track this semester!

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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!

Career Coaching for Nurses

Reinventing yourself…becoming more of YOU

Career building is a life-long endeavor, and having a nurse/coach is the first step toward creating your future.  Has your path led you to a forked road where “straight ahead” is no longer an option?   Perhaps this is a personal choice or because the organization has changed and your skills no longer fit the new business focus. Or, are you merely at a crossroads where you can continue on your present course, but want to consider the options those other directions offer?  Regardless of what brought you to your present place, it may be time to step back, take a deep breath, and reflect on a new vision of what a career might mean for you.

Forward or reverse…

Realizing you need change to get out of your rut is the first step. Once you’re there, spend some time thinking about which direction you want to go. Do you want to change into a new career? Stay in the same career but move forward into a promotion? Stay in the same career but move backward into a prior job that you enjoyed, was more meaningful, and that was less stressful? Segue into an “unjob” (contract, freelance, or self-employment work) or put your career on hold (sabbatical or leave of absence) while you explore those things you always wanted to do that offer zero or minimal financial compensation. This could mean honing an art like pottery or painting or even exploring missionary work.  Take the time to reflect on how your life purpose and your dreams should direct your career choices.  And yes, it could mean redefining yourself as a nursing professional.

As a holistic nurse coach and one who has redefined myself, I look first at your employment history, your passions, and your purpose.  What would your optimal nursing career look and feel like?  How will you know that it is right for you?

How Do I Know When Enough is Enough

Take a moment to reflect on your own career.  If you were to lose your job today, how would that affect you?  If you needed a professional recommendation, who would you contact to provide it?  How would that recommendation look and feel?  Do others think of you as a resource, as a go-to person?  You may love your work, and dislike those with whom you work.  Work satisfaction studies reveal that job frustration is the #1 problem that people express.  We have all experienced the typical ‘bad day at the office’ – so when is enough just that – enough?  I recommend listening to your body; it is a great indicator.  If your job makes you ill, it may be time to look elsewhere.

Can you fix what is not working about your job?  Can you change units, or move your desk to another location?  Sometimes, even changing the position of your desk helps.  Is there an opportunity for professional growth and can you learn from this position and use that knowledge to advance your career?

What kind of work and work setting excite you?  What would give you great joy in the workplace?  Do you prefer to work alone, or as a part of a team?  What steps have you taken thus far to change your situation and what is your timeline for a change?  Put yourself in a position in which resignation is a good choice, rather than a desperate one.

As your nurse coach, I will help you to:

  • Plan the trajectory of your nursing career and a SWOT analysis
  • Identify potentially useful resources
  • Explore your motivations and desires
  • Fine-tune your resume and CV
  • Improve your cover letters and thank you letters
  • Prepare you for interviews
  • Recover from difficult passages in your career that held you back
  • Explore new career alternatives, especially more non-traditional nursing roles
  • Brainstorm entrepreneurial and business ideas
  • Review and enhance your Linked In profile and coach you on how to best utilize this platform

Nursing is a wonderful career and an honorable profession; new opportunities offer a new alternative for you as a nursing professional.  Visit http://smwgroupllc.com to learn more.

 

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!

Why B is for Balance…connecting the dots

From infusion to evolution: I am often asked how I could write infusion therapy textbooks for 25 years, and then write about life balance.

How is it possible to shift paradigms so dramatically and connect the dots? I am often asked how I could possibly transition from the world of sick-care and chronic disease to the wonderful world of wellness.  What was the trigger that I was out of balance, and that I needed to do something about it?  And, how, after so many years, could I evolve into a wellness professional and seek balance for myself?

My story could easily be your story.  Working 100+ hours per week, and well aware of the toll that this schedule placed on my own body/mind/family/relationships, I knew that something had to change.  And, it was my global work colleagues who introduced me to the concept of work/life balance.

Picture this.  During the month of August, hospitals in the former Soviet Union traditionally close to allow time for the staff to visit a remote Sanatoria for a 24-day respite.  Who do you know in this country that offers 24 days of vacation time to all employees, regardless of status, and then mandates that they actually take the time for a much-needed rest?  Maternity leave in that part of the world is a minimum of two years, during which your job is held for you!  Who do you know in this country that offers extended parental leave time equal to two years?  If you are like me, no one measures up to those standards.  And while I was not considering parental leave for myself, nor would I ever stay in one place long enough for a 24-day rest, I did start to think about working less and playing more.  I was intrigued by the concept of a life in balance and what that might look like.

Perhaps you have had the same experience…perhaps you realize that your work and home life are intertwined and that there is no longer time for you and those near and dear to you.  Perhaps you have thought, “What if I could take that much-needed vacation, attend that graduation, or just relax?”

The Art of Reinvention: I chose to reinvent myself as a wellness professional with a focus on lifestyle rather than on managing chronic disease and acute illness.  I thought about the words of Harold Whitman, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  I decided to come alive, enjoy life, family, career, and more – and to write about the experience. It’s time to reinvent a new us that will take us through our second adulthood.  I have done it, and so can you. So who are you?  Who do you want to be when you grow up – a question that my kids often ask me?  This time, you get to decide. 

Use these steps to relieve the stressors that are holding you back:

Decide what’s most important in your life: Identify three areas of your life that are most important; for me, the three include (1) health and well-being, (2) family, and (3) professional work.  If health is a priority for you, take the time to achieve it.  Eat well, be well, do well – begin an exercise program, if you have not already done so.

Know your purpose and set goals: Life purpose is what gives meaning to our lives and a reason why we are here on earth. Each individual life has a natural reason for being.  Think about what brings you the greatest joy in your life, and pursue it. To be successful in our lives, we must set goals to discover our purpose and what we want to achieve in the course of our lives. In order to be a goal, it must first be specific and measurable.

How to Seek Help: Successful, balanced professionals are not afraid to ask for help. Everyone needs help from time to time, and reaching out is an admirable skill.  Be acutely aware of the stressors in your schedule and in your life.  Know thyself first!  Manage yourself, and take advantage of counseling, coaches, professional peers, mentors and more.

Working 100+ hours per week, and well aware of the toll that this schedule placed on my own body/mind/family/relationships, I knew that something had to change.  And, it was my global work colleagues who introduced me to the concept of work/life balance.

Picture this.  During the month of August, hospitals in the former Soviet Union traditionally close to allow time for the staff to visit a remote Sanatoria for a 24-day respite.  Who do you know in this country that offers 24 days of vacation time to all employees, regardless of status, and then mandates that they actually take the time for a much-needed rest?  Maternity leave in that part of the world is a minimum of two years, during which your job is held for you!  Who do you know in this country that offers extended parental leave time equal to two years?  If you are like me, no one measures up to those standards.  And while I was not considering parental leave for myself, nor would I ever stay in one place long enough for a 24-day rest, I did start to think about working less and playing more.  I was intrigued by the concept of a life in balance and what that might look like. Perhaps you have had the same experience…perhaps you realize that your work and home life are intertwined and that there is no longer time for you and those near and dear to you.  Perhaps you have thought, “What if I could take that much-needed vacation, attend that graduation, or just relax?”

Know your Limitations: We just do not know how to say ‘no.’ In B is for Balance, I talk about ‘no’ being a complete sentence, and it is okay to learn how to use the word to bring balance to our lives. If something does not fall within your priorities, it is okay to say the magic word, ‘no.’ You must avoid taking on more than you can possibly handle. Negotiate for workplace balance by knowing yourself and your limitations. “No” can be the best time management tool that you have! Knowing my limitations allowed me to transition from the sick-care industry to the Life Balance space. I connect those dots by using my nursing platform to share the wonderful world of wellness – one that is available to you as well, with you live a life in balance.

 

What are your boundaries?

What are your boundaries, and how do you set/manage them?  Do you have your space? Are you in control? Do others violate your boundaries? Are you in a ‘safe’ place? 

Boundaries have an impact on our personal and professional lives. Setting boundaries allows you to have your won time and space. The process ensures that you will have the time (taking it is an altogether difference thing) to do what you need to do for yourself. It prevents others from invading your space, crossing your boundary, and stepping on toes.

How do you use boundaries in your personal and professional lives? Will you set boundaries for 2017 and beyond – in the hope of making this a better year? What boundaries will guide your performance, your health, your finances, and your outcomes in 2017 and beyond?