Nursing is a 24 hour care job. Yet, we nurses forget that our 12 hour shift, ends when we clock out. We tend to review the past 12 hours over and over again. We do this while driving home, while in the shower, while eating dinner, etc. We can not seem to let go, especially when we've had a tough shift.

This is understandable. We take our profession seriously, and we always thrive for desirable outcomes. And when outcomes do not turn out the way we want to, we work even harder to achieve what we want. As I had said before in my posts, nursing is an emotionally charged profession. Professional and personal values ​​are at stake and challenges can be emotionally draining. More often than not, we go through many complicated protocols and procedures to satisfies patients' needs and management's expectations. During this process, we forget our own.

But somehow, we do get comfort knowing we helped meet someone else's needs. This, I believe is our nurturing side and the nature of our profession as nurses. This is also why we have a hard time letting go of the whole shift once we leave it. We want to make sure that all interventions, documents, re-assessments are done and done right! We leave work anxious, scared, and sometimes even paranoid.

Nurses have to learn how to let go especially after a tough day. Letting go decreases anxiety, increases mental health, lessens the possibility of early burn out. I know it seem easier said than done. But I've learned a few ways to shake off a tough day and settle my mind after a hectic day.

  • You can not control everything. But you know what you can – your mind. Decrease your anxiety level through deep breathing. We always encourage patients to turn, cough and deep breath. We need to practice what we preach.
  • Think about the good things that have happened. You've done an excellent job in taking care of your patients, and more. Appreciate what the nursing assistants, unit secretaries, fellow nurses, transporters, etc have done to make it work for you and your patients. It is a group effort.
  • In situations where letting go is absolutely hard for you, pray. It is not for everyone. But surrendering to the idea that there is something, someone, bigger than this world we live in that we do not have any control of, can somehow help you process thoughts in a peaceful manner.
  • Encourage peace in your mind and heart through acceptance. Learn from it and find it in your heart to forgive yourself. Forgiveness is a decision to let go of your own resentment and anger to yourself and the people around you. This can lead to understanding what empathy and compassion is all about. We learn this from nursing school. Yet, I believe it is a concept better understood if you learn it from personal experience.

“Utang na loob”, a Filipino cultural value meaning “Immeasurable gratitude”, “a debt of one's inner self”. We owe it to ourselves and society to be live and learn. Enjoy our journey with family, friends, patients, and co -workers. Letting ourselves go in a positive direction will let us shine despite the darkness of it all.