Tag Archives: self care

Self Compassion: surviving and thriving in emotionally taxing work environments

Part 1: Introduction

Self Compassion is defined as “…being empathetic and understanding towards oneself, as you might to a close friend in times of suffering” (Aggar et al, 2022).

I’m using self compassion as a nuanced but important update to previous presentations and blog posts on the theme of self care. Why? Because self-compassion is a better fit for nurses, I reckon.  As Mills, Wand & Fraser (2015) say, “…it could be argued that nursing care is synonymous with compassion.” That’s most-often compassion for others, not always each-other or our selves. 🙄

The way I see it, self care is about the tasks and strategies we use to avoid burnout. Self compassion is more of an attitude or mindset that goes beyond burnout prevention, and shifts towards making sure that we are as kind and nurturing to ourselves as we’re expected to be to our patients.

In this iteration of an annually updated presentation aimed mostly, but not exclusively, at new Graduate Registered Nurses I want to put emphasis on self compassion as a valid and sensible priority. We don’t want new grads to just survive their first year, we want them to learn, enjoy their work, and grow.

Part 2: Prezi

It’s handy to have a way where you can quickly and easily find and share presentations. PowerPoint presentations are so last century. The face-to-face presentation uses this Prezi: prezi.com/view/wsTTDmVzAJOSRpqDXs2I/

Click here for the Prezi to open.

Part 3: References & Further Reading

This must be the 6th or 7th iteration of a theme I’ve been banging-on about for over a decade, so I’m recycling and repurposing a lot of old ideas here. Because of that iterative process the list below is ridiculously and embarrassingly self-referential.
Please don’t think of it as self-plagiarism.
Think of it as a fresh new remix of a favourite old song. 🙂

Aggar, C., Samios, C., Penman, O., Whiteing, N., Massey, D., Rafferty, R., Bowen, K. & Stephens, A. (2022), The impact of COVID-19 pandemic-related stress experienced by Australian nurses. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 31(1). https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12938

Australian College of Mental Health Nurses [www.acmhn.org], Australian College of Nursing [www.acn.edu.au], and Australian College of Midwives [www.midwives.org.au] (2019) Joint Position Statement: Clinical Supervision for Nurses + Midwives. Released online April 2019, PDF available via each organisation’s website, and here: ClinicalSupervisionJointPositionStatement

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. doi.org/10.1111/inm.12796

Clean Hands. Clear Head. meta4RN.com/head

Clinical Supervision Starter Kit meta4RN.com/sup

Eales, Sandra. (2018). A focus on psychological safety helps teams thrive. InScope, No. 08., Summer 2018 edition, published by Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union on 13/12/18, pages 58-59. Eales2018

Emotional Aftershocks (the story of Fire Extinguisher Guy & Nursing Ring Theory) meta4RN.com/aftershocks

Employee Assistance Service
via QHEPS: https://qheps.health.qld.gov.au/cairns/business-services/people-and-engagement/safety-wellbeing-and-support/getting-help-and-support

Employee Assistance Service
via Benestar (the company that CHHHS contracts out to) benestar.com

Football, Nursing and Clinical Supervision (re validating protected time for reflection and skill rehearsal) meta4RN.com/footy

Hand Hygiene and Mindful Moments (re insitu self-care strategies) meta4RN.com/hygiene

Lai. J, Ma. S, Wang. Y, et al. (23 March 2020) Factors Associated With Mental Health Outcomes Among Health Care Workers Exposed to Coronavirus Disease 2019. JAMA Network Open.
jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2763229

Lalochezia (getting sweary doesn’t necessarily mean getting abusive)  meta4RN.com/lalochezia

Miller, Ian. (circa 2013) Nursing ring theory: Care goes in. Crap goes out. impactEDnurse [blog]. Archived blog post accessed via Wayback Machine: web.archive.org/www.impactednurse.com/?p=5755

Mills, J., Wand, T. & Fraser, J. (2015) On self-compassion and self-care in nursing: selfish or essential for compassionate care? International Journal of Nursing Studies. 52(4).
doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2014.10.009.

Nurse & Midwife Support nmsupport.org.au  phone 1800 667 877
targeted 24/7 confidential support available for nurse, midwives, AINs and students

Nurses, Midwives, Medical Practitioners, Suicide and Stigma (re the alarming toll of those who undertake emotional labour) meta4RN.com/stigma

Nurturing the Nurturers (the Pit Head Baths and clinical supervision stories)  meta4RN.com/nurturers

Queensland Health. (2009). Clinical Supervision Guidelines for Mental Health Services. PDF

Queensland Health (March 2021) Clinical Supervision Framework for Queensland Nurses and Midwives
QHEPS: https://qheps.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0035/2658734/clinical-supervision-framework.pdf
PDF below:

Q: RUOK? A: Not really. I’m a nurse. meta4RN.com/RUOK

Self Care: Surviving emotionally taxing work environments meta4RN.com/selfcare

Self Compassion and Post Traumatic Growth amongst Nurses in the Pandemic (Hooray for Grey Hairs!) meta4RN.com/grey

Spector, P., Zhiqing, Z. & Che, X. (2014) Nurse exposure to physical and nonphysical violence, bullying, and sexual harassment: A quantitative review. International Journal of Nursing Studies. Vol 50(1), pp 72-84. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0020748913000357

Surfing the Omicron Wave (Cairns Hospital COVID-19 admission data, 14th December 2021 – 20th February 2022)  meta4RN.com/surfing

That was bloody stressful! What’s next?
Web: meta4RN.com/bloody
QHEPS: Search for “bloody stressful” on QHEPS, or try this link: https://qheps.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0034/2757544/bloody-stressful-staff-brochure.pdf
PDF below:

Zero Tolerance for Zero Tolerance (a reframing of reducing aggression) meta4RN.com/zero

Part 4: Video Presentation

At time of writing it looks like we are going to have another uptick in COVID-19 presentations (see above). Bugger. I won’t pretend to know how that will affect our local hospital and/or face-to-face and group learning. It will be handy to have a YouTube version of the otherwise interactive face-to-face presentation on hand just in case we revert to crisis-response mode like we did in January/February 2022 [more info about that here and here].

Part 5: End Notes

Thanks for visiting.

As always, feedback is welcomed via the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 26 March 2022

Short URL meta4RN.com/grow

Self Compassion and Post Traumatic Growth amongst Nurses in the Pandemic (Hooray for Grey Hairs!)

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.

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.

So What?

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.

NB*

*“experienced” is probably code word for “those with grey hairs”

References

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,
https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12938

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
doi.org/10.1111/inm.12796

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.

End

That’s it. If you haven’t gone out to do something fun already, maybe stay where you are and sus-out the the Aggar et al article here, and have a browse through the other IJMHN COVID-19 papers here.

Thanks for reading. As always, your feedback is welcome via the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 16 October 2021

Short URL meta4RN.com/grey

Never Iron Again

You’re too busy, sensible and in need of downtime to iron.

So don’t ever iron again. It’s easy:

  1. Select the slow spin speed on your washing machine
  2. Use thick clothes hangers (those spindly wire ones will not do the trick)
  3. Take the clothes straight from the washing machine onto the hanger
  4. Button-up and tidy-up the shirt so it looks neat on the hanger
  5. Leave overnight
  6. Voilà! It’s ready to wear or hang in the wardrobe.
@meta4rn

Never Iron Again. (1) Slow Spin Speed (2) Thick Hangers [not wire] (3) Straight From Machine To Hanger ✅🙂 #iron #noiron #ironic #isntitironic #freedom

♬ Rockin – Chris Alan Lee

That’s it. That’s all you need to do.

If you hear yourself saying, “Yeah, but…” you’re sabotaging yourself. Stop it. You deserve better.

If you hear yourself saying “Yeah, duh…” you’re on my side. I’ve doing the washing, and NOT doing any ironing, this way for all my adult life. You and I are allies. It amazes me that there are others who don’t know.

If you hear yourself saying, “Yeah, isn’t it great that a middle-aged white man is telling everyone what to do…” you’re right. It’s a bad habit us middle-aged white men have. In my defence, I’d just like to point out that as a nurse I’ve been educated, trained, mentored and inspired by smart women. I’m not assuming superiority here, I’m just sharing a life hack from the trenches.

Never iron again. Slow spin speed, thick hangers, and straight from the washing machine to the hanger will do the trick.

Oh my giddy aunt! I will never iron again!

End

That’s it. At first blush it may seem that this blog post is WAY off track for a nursing blog, but I reckon it belongs here. Why? Because nurses using and passing-on self care tips is in keeping with the rest of the blog. Also, mental health week is coming-up – what better way to walk the mental health talk than stop being a slave to ironing?

As always, your feedback is welcome via the comments section below.

Naturally, if you know someone who irons it is you solemn duty to pass-on this info. 🙂

Paul McNamara, 5 October 2021

Mental Health in the General Hospital (video version)

A couple of weeks ago I was an invited speaker at the ANMF Vic Branch & NMHP Wellness Conference. The session was titled “Mental Health in the General Hospital”. Regular visitors to the meta4RN.com blog would have seen the accompanying web page to the presentation (here it is: meta4RN.com/ANMFvic).

This week the recording of the conference became available. I’ve snipped my session into a YouTube video and saved it here so it’s easy to find and share with those who have expressed an interest in seeing it (thanks Mum 🙂).

For reasons I don’t understand the video version of the presentation is blighted by a couple of static black boxes; these are not visible at all when viewing the actual Prezi. Mysterious. 🤷‍♂️

My noggin is a bit blurred/asynchronous when on screen – that would be due to the NBN being slowed to a crawl by copper wire, I guess. Fibre to the node, eh? 🙄

Those couple of things aside, it’s interesting (for me) to see the video version back. Yes, it’s a bit embarrassing, but it also shows me the sort of things I should try to improve for future presentations. Less face-touching, for instance. 😕 

Still image from the video. L-R: Eduardo D’Bull, Stone Woman by Ruth Malloch, Paul McNamara and Bessie D’Cow.

End

That’s it. No need to ramble any further – this blog post is all about the video (feat. Eduardo D’Bull and Bessie D’Cow). 📺 🐮 🐄

As always, feedback in the comments section below is welcome.

Paul McNamara, 29 May 2021 

Short URL meta4RN.com/vid

Mental Health in the General Hospital

On Friday 7 May 2021 I’ll be presenting at the ANMF Vic Branch & NMHP Wellness Conference. My session is tilted “Mental Health in the General Hospital”, and is followed by a session by Magda Szubanski!

I’m not making a fuss about presenting back-to-back with one of Australia’s most loved actors, although I may have mentioned it on Twitter…

and Facebook www.facebook.com

and Instagram www.instagram.com

and LinkedIn www.linkedin.com

But otherwise, I hardly it mentioned it all. 🙂

Anyway, this page is a place to link to the Prezi and the presentation content for the session. Because the presentation draws heavily on previous work I’ve done, the reference list is ridiculously self-referential.

Prezi https://prezi.com/p/mk9smhldjhnx/mental-health-in-the-general-hospital/

CLPS Nurses (WTF?)

A random sample of journal articles by/about Nurses working in an Australia Consultation Liaison Psychiatric Service (not pretending/trying to be an exhaustive list).

Dawber, C. (2013), Reflective Practice Groups for Nurses. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 22: 135-144. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1447-0349.2012.00839.x

Harvey, S.T., Fisher, L.J. and Green, V.M. (2012), Evaluating the clinical efficacy of a primary care‐focused, nurse‐led, consultation liaison model for perinatal mental health. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 21: 75-81. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1447-0349.2011.00766.x

McMaster, R., Jammali‐Blasi, A., Andersson‐Noorgard, K., Cooper, K. and McInnes, E. (2013), Research involvement, support needs, and factors affecting research participation: A survey of Mental Health Consultation Liaison Nurses. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 22: 154-161. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1447-0349.2012.00857.x

McNamara, P., Bryant, J., Forster, J., Sharrock, J. and Happell, B. (2008), Exploratory study of mental health consultation‐liaison nursing in Australia: Part 2 preparation, support and role satisfaction. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 17: 189-196. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1447-0349.2008.00531.x

Sharrock, J., Grigg, M., Happell, B., Keeble‐Devlin, B. and Jennings, S. (2006), The mental health nurse: A valuable addition to the consultation‐liaison team. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 15: 35-43. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1447-0349.2006.00393.x

Sharrock, J. and Happell, B. (2002), The psychiatric consultation‐liaison nurse: Thriving in a general hospital setting. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 11: 24-33. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1440-0979.2002.00205.x

Wand, T., Collett, G., Cutten, A., Buchanan‐Hagen, S., Stack, A. and White, K. (2020), Patient and clinician experiences with an emergency department‐based mental health liaison nurse service in a metropolitan setting. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 29: 1202-1217. https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12760

“The 7 D’s”
Dementia
Delirium
Depression
Deliberate self-harm
Disturbed behaviour
Dangerous Diets
Dodgy drugs

McNamara, P. (2014) A mental health nurse in the general hospital, blog post published by ‘My Health Career’ on 12/05/14, retrieved 03/05/21 www.myhealthcareer.com.au

Other resources re CLPS Nurses in Australia

Top Tips for CL Nurses (PDF)

Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Consultation Liaison Special Interest Group (aka ACMHN CL SIG) acmhn.org/home-clsig

Pivot (verb)

A word that is more palatable than “change”, “adapt” and “survive”; came in to common use during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Distracted-boyfriend meme
– background/history wikipedia.org/wiki/Distracted-boyfriend_meme
– generator imgflip.com/memegenerator/Distracted-Boyfriend

The Other PPE

McNamara, P. (2020) Positive Practice Environment (the other PPE), blog post written 01/04/20, retrieved 03/05/21 meta4RN.com/PPE

Clean Hands. Clear Head.

McNamara, P. (2020) Clean Hands. Clear Head., blog post written 25/03/20 with an update on 08/12/20, retrieved 03/05/21 meta4RN.com/head

End Notes

Many thanks to Nursing and Midwifery Health Program Victoria and Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation – Victorian Branch for inviting me to present.

Thanks to QR Code Monkey for providing a free, easy-to-use, QR code generator that allows for a logo to be inserted.

Something that pandemic has provided is ubiquitous uptake of QR codes, which makes this 2012 idea of deploying complex health information via a QR code more practical/relevant than ever. More info on this via the video below and/or ye olde blog post: meta4RN.com/QRcode

Thanks for visiting. As alway, feedback is welcome via the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 3 May 2021

Short URL meta4RN.com/ANMFvic