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Resilience in Nursing

Photo: Resilience in Nursing
Every healthcare provider has to face a number of stresses and difficult situations as they provide daily care for patients. This puts members of the healthcare profession at risk of anxiety, depression, stress-related illnesses and even burnout.

Nurses especially are prone to these disorders as nursing comes with plenty of unique stresses and high pressure situations. Therefore resilience training and coping mechanisms are considered vital for managing a work-life balance, especially for those who are responsible for delivering medical care (1).

What is resilience?

Resilience can be described as the ability to recover and recuperate quickly from a difficult or challenging situation. This quality is different from stress management in that the focus of resilience is to understand that stress is bound to happen and should be treated as a normal part of the day. Stress management, on the other hand, will typically require a breakdown of the situation in order to resolve the stress.
For nurses in particular, being able to bounce back with resilience can equate to better patient care and patient outcomes as nurses will be more alert, stay positive, and practise clearer communication than if they were more stressed out. Effectively practising resilience can help nurses rise through the ranks in their career all while enjoying their job and being able to exercise good judgement (2).

Nurses who can increase their resilience usually feel naturally energised, motivated, and capable of taking on more responsibilities. Those who are resilient in nature will generally have a higher sense of self-awareness, persistence, and the energy to sustain their mind and body. Resilience is also thought of as part of the foundation to becoming emotionally intelligent, as it requires emotional flexibility, adaptability, a positive outlook and being able to reach out to others for open communication (2).

In order for nurses to build on resilience, they need to be able to take and stay in control of their heart, mind, and body throughout the day. Nurses need to be able to love and accept who they are as a person, and understand what they need to be, instead of using tactics and certain behaviours to work on their resiliency skills (3).

Habits of resilient nurses

The American Psychological Association has suggested some factors which can help nurses in increasing and supporting their resilience (4);

  • Maintaining good, positive relationships
  • Accepting that there are circumstances which are out of one’s control
  • Sustaining optimism and a hopeful outlook for the future
  • Keeping a long term perspective

However mindfulness is a critical quality on which all the above factors rely. Mindfulness requires paying attention and being present in the moment. To build and maintain resilience, nurses should practise the following habits (4);

  • Practise beginners mind – this can help nurses to stay focused in the moment and to pay attention to the situation at hand. If a nurse acts on assumptions and feels they already know what is about to happen, chances are they will close their eyes to any new possibilities available.
  • Let go – this habit does not suggest quitting, but simply promotes freeing oneself from negative emotions and feelings so that the nurse can stay in the moment. Nurses are highly exposed to pain, suffering, and feeling helpless, which is why being able to let go is critical for building resilience.
  • Be kind and compassionate – being kind encourages positive behaviour and feelings amongst each other and can help uplift the mood in a high pressure situation.
  • Practise gratitude – nurses and healthcare providers can always appreciate their health, secure job, and expertise which make a crucial and positive difference in patients’ lives each day. By practising thankfulness, nurses can expand their minds, see more abundance and opportunities, and stay optimistic.
  • Stay authentic – when nurses are honest and accepting about who they are as a person, they will become more purposeful in their choices and have a higher chance of following through to achieve personal goals. Authenticity is reflected in the workplace as nurses will be able to have honest relationships with their patients, who will in turn trust them as their care providers and cooperate with treatments.
  • Stay committed – being dedicated to what one does and going through with it with persistence and patience can help nurses to complete their workload and ultimately increase their belief in themselves.
  • Trust oneself – nurses naturally have great intuition and even use it for patient care. By trusting gut feelings and embracing faith, nurses can build their confidence and become not only resilient, but resourceful and gain the knowledge that they are capable.

Nursing absolutely requires resilience. Keeping strong and confident in body, mind, and spirit can positively reflect on nurses and increase productivity, work relationships, and energy levels. By practising some of the above habits and increasing emotional intelligence, nurses can build their resilience and thrive in both their professional and personal lives (4).


Sources:

  1. Aged Care Guide
  2. Nurse Together
  3. RNL

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