You may have seen that COVID-19 related content from the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing has been collated on one page, and is free to read. If not, sus it out here: IJMHN COVID-19
There’s an interesting recent addition to that list of articles by a group of nurses working at Southern Cross University and in the Northern New South Wales Local Health District. The paper reports on the stress risk and protective factors amongst 767 Australian nurses working in acute-care settings during the COVID19 pandemic.
The findings that jumped-out at me from the paper were that more experienced* nurses reported more self-compassion. Greater self-compassion resulted in:
– a reduction in pandemic-related stress
– less symptoms of depression and/or anxiety
– greater post-traumatic growth.
That’s great, right?
The findings from the Australian survey are similar to a large-scale China survey in that post-traumatic stress for nurses during COVID-19 is offset by post-traumatic growth. Understandably, the numbers in the Australian study are less pronounced than they were in the Chinese study, reflecting the difference in the two country’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If, like me, you’re an experienced * nurse, celebrate and share your self-compassion super-power and with other nurses. This, together with the possibility that the pandemic may cause professional/personal growth to offset the stress, is very encouraging.
If you’re new-ish to nursing, be very deliberate about building-in self-compassion to your work.
People who are attracted to nursing are usually empathetic towards the needs of others. That’s great, of course, but the downside for empaths is that sometimes we put the needs of others before our needs.
That’s the pathway to burnout, my friend.
It is sensible to be intentional about self-compassion, ie: the art of being kind to yourself, and finding a workable, realistic balance between your life experiences, thoughts and feelings. Self-compassion will not dilute your empathy. It will allow you to continue in your empathetic work better for longer.
How do you go about self-compassion?
Maybe finding yourself the right mentor(s).
Maybe just everyday stress management stuff.
Maybe getting some clinical supervision.
Maybe phoning Nurse & Midwife Support.
Maybe you should stop reading dumb nursing blogs, and go outside and do something fun instead. 🙂
Maybe a bit of each of the above.
*“experienced” is probably code word for “those with grey hairs”
Aggar, C., Samios, C., Penman, O., Whiteing, N., Massey, D., Rafferty, R., Bowen, K. & Stephens, A. (2021), The impact of COVID-19 pandemic-related stress experienced by Australian nurses. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing,
Chen, R., Sun, C., Chen, J.‐J., Jen, H.‐J., Kang, X.L., Kao, C.‐C. & Chou, K.‐R. (2020), A Large‐Scale Survey on Trauma, Burnout, and Posttraumatic Growth among Nurses during the COVID‐19 Pandemic. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing.
Declaration of Interests
In the interests of transparency, there are three declarations to be made re this blog post:
1. I am the Social Media Editor of the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing.
2. I have a bias towards promoting nurse mental wellbeing, including my own.
3. What little hair I have left is very very grey.
Thanks for reading. As always, your feedback is welcome via the comments section below.
Paul McNamara, 16 October 2021
Short URL meta4RN.com/grey