If you don’t look after yourself, you’ll be incapable of caring adeptly for anyone else
My main message for everyone to whom I speak - but nurses in particular - is: “Work harder on yourself than anyone else.” As individuals, and especially as nurses, we don’t take any time to assess ourselves.
Often, it’s far easier to look after others than it is to look after yourself.
As my personal background is in healthcare, that tends to be where I start. I’ve been in the field since I was about 15 years old. I really
got burnt out when I was 26.
I had three children and I caught pneumonia but didn’t realise it for a long time. I felt awful, but I also felt like I couldn’t fall short and let down everyone around me. What I realised was that I could not live in this way any longer.
Everyone wants to be happier and healthier. I think personal development and avoiding burnout is about bringing your A-game to your work and life. I’ve divided this into: awareness; accountability; attitude; appreciation; and action.
Tips on bringing your “A game” to work and life
● Awareness: remind yourself to stay mindful of your actions and your environment
● Accountability: keep asking yourself “What is my role in the situation?”
● Attitude: changing your mindset is everything
● Appreciation: instead of complaining about your work, be grateful for having a job
● Action: information on a shelf does you no good - plan steps to make things happen
Kaizen (Japanese for “improvement” or “change for the best”) is attainable if we find cues in our everyday life that help us focus. Attitude is a critical part of that. Change your mindset: how can you take advantage of the time that you have?
The cues you need may be as simple as when you’re washing or putting lotion on your hands: take time to pause, breathe and be aware of yourself and your surroundings. It makes a huge difference when you acknowledge everything.
I remember a time in my life when I was in a perpetual state of being overworked and overwhelmed - and full of guilt from leaving people short. Once a man came into the clinic for skincare help and, in response, I actually said: “Mommy will fix that.” That, for me, was a clear sign that my home and work life were out of balance.
Not only that but I had also neglected exploring any passions of my own. That’s a crucial thing. As soon as you forget about yourself as an individual, it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate. I realised I couldn’t live like that any more.
I developed the Life Support for Nurses app as a way to give nurses encouragement and motivation when they need it. It offers brief inspirational quotes and ideas to give that support on the go.
I wanted to design something easily accessible - and free of charge - from which nurses could benefit when they needed a little boost, a dash of positive energy or a little inspiration.
Stephanie Staples is a former nurse who now speaks at engagements around the world on overcoming stress and burnout and self-improvement. She is the author of When Enlightening Strikes: Creating a Mindset for Uncommon Success and is a developer of the Life Support for Nurses app. Find out more about Stephanie’s message at: yourlifeunlimited.ca