Well, I can’t really believe that I am here. I have passed all of my academic assessments; my PAD is all but signed off; and I am two weeks away from being a NQN (nearly qualified nurse). You would think that I am feeling euphoric, but I am not – I am mostly feeling exhausted.
Now, I have been exhausted before, but this is something else completely. This is not so much as physical exhaustion but mental exhaustion and I have been trying really hard to take some time to catch my breath, reflect and move on, but that is not so easy at this point in proceedings.
For somebody of my age (shall we say late 30s…) and in my position, there are other things than nursing placements to worry about - there are the bank shifts that need working to make ends meet; time that needs to be spent with your family and friends (this is the area that suffers the most); and the time needed to do all of the other things necessary in our everyday lives – such as cooking, washing and cleaning. It’s making me feel tired just writing this down!
I don’t want this to be a depressing blog, but it’s something that I have needed to reflect upon, and I am pretty sure that I am not the only student that has been feeling this way.
It has been a massively busy three years for me, and I have had an absolutely amazing time. I feel as though I have grown beyond belief and I have been involved in some amazing programmes and experienced some things that will stay with me forever, but instead of feeling exhilarated and proud, I suppose I have been feeling a little flat. It feels as though there should be trumpets, party poppers and fireworks, but in reality, the finale is proving to be more of a fizzle.
Upon reflection, the last few months have been ridiculously busy, with four assignments being submitted; six weeks of management placement; and that never-ending wait for results. This has been compounded by a negative experience that I had let grow and fester until it was all consuming.
It was only after really thinking about this experience and breaking it down in to small pieces that I realised it was actually the most significant drain on my emotional energy, and it was a huge weight off my shoulders when I actually realised this.
By reflecting critically, I realised that it was essential that I tackled the issue rather than leaving it on a shelf, and by considering my emotional resilience and emotional stability, I was able to look at the situation for exactly what it was, think about why it had happened and then think about how I had reacted to the situation – a cycle similar to the ABC model proposed by Albert Ellis back in 1962.
By dissecting the problem in this way, I feel I was able to address the issues calmly and patiently before moving on and looking forward again.
Being aware of our stresses and understanding the triggers to our emotions are valuable skills and being able to reflect effectively can help us to recover and recuperate quickly from negative experiences.
“We need to look after ourselves (and each other) too as our profession is focused fully on the needs of others”
Whether we are students, newly qualified or experienced nurses, it is important for us to be able to bounce back from challenging situations and increasing our emotional resilience can help us to feel more energised, motivated and in a much better frame of mind to deliver the quality of care that the people we support deserve.
Obviously, we need to look after ourselves (and each other) too as our profession is focused fully on the needs of others, and therefore it can be very easy to overlook our own personal needs to the detriment of our physical and mental health. Self-care is not selfish, but it is the act of maintaining our own minds and bodies so that we can carry on caring for others.
Being able to maintain the health of not only our bodies, but also our minds and our hearts can help us to accept (and love) who we are as individuals and help us to understand how and why certain experiences make us feel certain things and react in certain ways. Developing our emotional intelligence and emotional resilience can help us to bounce back from adversity quickly and it is an essential skill in nursing leadership.
Reflecting in this way has really helped me to understand more about myself; I am feeling much more positive; and I am really looking forward to my last two weeks on placement. I have also come to realise that I am not a great fan of trumpets, party-poppers or fireworks anyway.