NU2ICU Nursing Survival Techniques

NU2ICU V3 logoNURSING SURVIVAL TECHNIQUES

NU2ICU knows the hardest thing about ICU nursing (or any other ICU role) is the constant striving to be your absolute best, this leads to self doubt and self deprecation, it helps remembering no one will ever be as hard on you as you are!

Planning for how to survive any career change is a huge safety benefit for everyone involved – you, the patients and visitors, your fellow staff, your family and partners, even your pets.  Your stress levels effect everyone and everything in your life, occasional low amounts of stress can be a great motivator and part of every day in most ICUs but continuous high personal levels are bad, very bad

Stress is a part of life and how you deal with it is as individual as you are but here are some suggestions that may help or you can completely ignore

 

GET REST / SLEEP

So hard with shift work and maintaining a good work / life balance but grab every opportunity to have downtime with gusto

PHYSICALLY ACTIVE

I know you are already tired but sometimes building your reserve or simply going for a long walk can clear some stress and help you to…

SEEK FRESH AIR

Remember fresh air?  Its outside and free

TRY RELAXATION TECHNIQUES

Music, meditation, yoga or simply chilling in front of your favourite TV show, the options are varied and endless – acknowledge you are switching off

KEEP A DIARY

Writing things down can help maintain perspective, assists with maintaining a routine and any planning helps free your mind from worry

TALK TO SOMEONE

Never underestimate the power of the chat, even to yourself.  Although nursing’s varied hours and experiences can separate you from your social contacts – make the effort ASAP

LEARN WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL / TO SAY NO

If you need downtime for you then say so, negotiate, barter and bargain for ‘me’ time

DO WHAT YOU LOVE

Its puppy cuddling time, take a hot bath or shopping for bags and shoes – whatever makes you happy and reminds you kindly exactly why you go to work

EMBRACE MISTAKES  AND LEARN FROM THEM

Give yourself a break, shit happens.  Accept responsibility and demonstrate your courage determination and commitment to improve, everything is an opportunity to learn

DISCONNECT FROM WORK ON DAYS OFF

If you find yourself catching up with workmates on days off probably most of your conversations are about work.  Everything in moderation, try to steer talking to allow you to escape

ASK FOR HELP

Acknowledging you may need help is cathartic in itself.  Blaming others is far easier than understanding why things happen in the first place, move yourself forward just one step at a time

BREATHE

Stress can be immediate, terrifying and debilitating.  Deep breaths concentrating on slow inhalation, pause and slow exhalation while at the same time relaxing tension in your body starting at the head or the feet, old school but helps!

AVOID CAFFEINE, ALCOHOL AND NICOTINE (and many other substances)

Nursing is a hard career option for those seeking to avoid these poisons but if you can even minimising them will help you feel better eventually.  We use these to waken, calm, distract and sate cravings, if you can decrease use then you should

PEER SUPPORT

New to ICU?  Every one was at some point and your experiences aren’t unusual or new.  Find others who have been in the same or similar boat and talk about why they don’t sink (anymore)

NEVER STOP LEARNING

Seems obvious but nothing will make you feel as out of touch and not part of it as not being up to speed on current processes, equipment or therapies.  Read, subscribe, join, attend – education is always available

 

If you find yourself curled up in a ball or continuously sad or angry about work then time to be proactive – seek help!  Your workplace is probably a hospital after all, with lots of social workers, counselors and pastoral care, use it and ask for an informal chat.  Some workplaces offer counseling services externally for free.   Talk to your boss if its the effect of rostering or interpersonal issues and if you find that difficult then your industrial body or union can support you, without prejudice, in these discussions

 


BULLYING AND HARASSMENT

ICU breeds strong personalities, proud, knowledgeable and forceful, yet sadly some nurses (not just in ICU) really do “eat their young” and you should NEVER tolerate bullying or harassment in your career – from peers, doctors, other staff or even patients

What does bullying / harassment in the workplace look like?

  • repeated hurtful remarks or attacks, or making fun of your work or you as a person (including your family, sex, sexuality, gender identity, race or culture, education or economic background)
  • sexual harassment, particularly stuff like unwelcome touching and sexually explicit comments and requests that make you uncomfortable
  • excluding you or stopping you from working with people or taking part in activities that relates to your work
  • playing mind games, ganging up on you, or other types of psychological harassment
  • intimidation (making you feel less important and undervalued)
  • giving you pointless tasks that have nothing to do with your job
  • giving you impossible jobs that can’t be done in the given time or with the resources provided
  • deliberately changing your work hours or schedule to make it difficult for you
  • deliberately holding back information you need for getting your work done properly
  • pushing, shoving, tripping, grabbing you in the workplace
  • attacking or threatening with equipment, knives, guns, clubs or any other type of object that can be turned into a weapon
  • initiation or hazing – where you are made to do humiliating or inappropriate things in order to be accepted as part of the team

Be prepared to speak up to stop workplace bullying.  Talk to your peers, unit manager, Human Resources or anyone who can support you as it is a big personal step to commence a formal or informal complaint if required

If you only take one thing from this entire package its…

YOU are responsible for you and YOU deserve to be safe and happy.

NU2ICU

More reading

NU2ICU DEATH AND DYING in ICU
NU2ICU GETTING THE JOB