As a nurse, you acknowledge and celebrate the successes of others as they learn new skills, improve their healthy behaviors, or do well after a surgery. You may be getting kids to their games, classes or practices and showing up at your partner’s business functions, in addition to preparing meals. You get to work on time or maybe even early. You put in a full day of work possibly receiving accolades for your good work from colleagues and management and then go on to the next activity.
You show up for people and activities that depend upon you, but how are you showing up for yourself? Are you putting your own needs onto a “back burner”? A word of caution: what’s on your back burner can, over time, cause you to feel frustrated, ashamed, disappointment and become yet another stressor by being an energy drain.
Some time ago, I had a file of cards, letters and pictures that I wanted to put into a book. I had been collecting these mementos for years, and eventually it became a daunting, overwhelming task to even consider addressing. I could feel my energy drain and my spirits drop, when ever I thought of it, so I’d put it back on the back burner. The same would happen when I thought about my living will.
The 4 stage process below is what I used to create my living will and to create a book designed to prevent such a pile up again. With those energy drains gone I began to feel so free. Savoring and celebrating every incremental step in this 4 stage process is the key to successfully decreasing, eventually eliminating your energy drains. You end up not only feeling better and having more energy but your perspective changes as a result of taking better care of yourself. You actually change your brain, becoming more open to experiencing happiness. I can honestly say I don’t have any Back Burner Energy Drains at this time!
Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist, author of Buddha’s Brain and teacher reports that our brains can be sculpted. You begin to rebuild the micro-circuitry to gradually shift the emotional shadings of your interior landscape by making positive experiences last by staying with them for 5, 10, even 20 seconds. This is the savoring process. Having a sense of happiness for your accomplishment is a form of celebration which you can do with or without others, enhancing your internal strength.
Savor and Celebrate Each Step as You Eliminate Your Back Burner Energy Drains
- Identify your Back Burner Energy Drains: Possibly inadequate sleep, no reflection/down time, poor exercise habits, unhealthy nutrition, a needed education or career move or even attention to your financial future, organizing your mementos, creating your living will…check inside yourself for any others.
- Discern which one to begin working on.
- Create an action plan of Specific, Small and Scheduled steps to address that one Back Burner Energy Drain.
- Create an accountability process- partner or partners with whom you report, share, celebrate your process.
Delores, was describing her chaotic and hectic day as a prison counselor, where she has worked for over 20 years. She has been developing better ways of caring for herself at work including better food choices and not getting flustered so often. In the middle of her story she mentioned that she went into a safe room, sat down, closed her eyes, withdrew her attention from the concerns and chaos of the work scene and took a 2 minute meditation break. (This was a new behavior for her.) She also spoke with a trusted colleague about what she did. At the end of the story before going on to the next topic, we spent time unpacking the experience of the new behavior. In that process she was able to more fully appreciate and savor the good feeling and empowerment it engendered. The new behavior was a win.
Taking time to remember and re-experience it deepened the new neural pathways she is developing as she creates new Self care habits. Identifying her Back Burner Energy Drain of not caring for herself at work, she started with a small step, acted on it and celebrated by sharing it with people on her accountability team making her stronger for herself and even possibly setting a different and healthy example for her colleagues. Giving yourself credit for your courageous decision to identify your Back Burner Energy Drains is empowering.
*** Savor and Celebrate***
Beginning to address Back Burner Energy Drains
increases your sense of self integrity.
*** Savor and Celebrate***
Creating the action plan is a success in its own right
because it is a start.
*** Savor and Celebrate***
Sharing with your accountability partner(s) enhances positive feelings,
the power of your accomplishments, decreases shame and inspires moving forward.
Each step of the way, acknowledging, and celebrating your successes and savoring the feelings makes the positive experiences last longer, changing your neural wiring . In the end your energy is improved from not only reducing the stress of your Back Burner Energy Drains as you eliminate them, but you experience an increased sense of happiness and well being.
The Vitality in Progress: Healing and Preventing Burnout in Nurses has an accountability process built into it and support for your personal celebration as you empower yourself with healthy habits and improved self esteem. Additionally, nurses receive 39 CNE’s upon successful completion along with 3 new healthy Self care habits.
What are your Back Burner Energy Drains? Please share with us your strategies for eliminating them and restoring your vitality.
Have a wonderful week making your positive experiences last longer, celebrating your successes and increasing your happiness and sense of well being.
With love, Padma
By the way, please join us on our weekly phone call. Self Care for Vitality