Nursing Zen: Harnessing the Power of the Present Nurse

Making the most of each workday is something every nurse strives for; however, while Zen in the workplace may come easily some days, during others it’s more difficult, and for a few remaining days, it seems like a lost cause. Making each day work to its fullest involves giving your full attention to everything you do and being totally present in everything you do – this is the definition of Zen. However, the field of nursing often demands that we move ourselves mentally on to the next task before we finish our present one.

How can Zen possibly be attainable in nursing, then?

Suggestions for Achieving Zen Each Shift

  •         Philosophical Goals

First and foremost, keep in mind that it is possible to stay present in everything you do during your workday, but it takes practice and mental preparation to do so. Before you head out the door for work, take a few minutes to decide what you want to accomplish during the upcoming shift – we don’t mean in terms of projects or tasks but instead, what kind of a philosophical goal would you like to accomplish? This might be trying to be more sympathetic with the challenging family member up on 3E or it might be to act more outwardly appreciative of the CNAs on the floor. You can keep your goal the same every day or you can focus on something different each day.

  •         Karma

Along with the word Zen, Karma is also a buzzword in the field lately. “Karma” actually is derived from the word kri in Sanskrit, which means “action”. Think of it as the universal law of cause and effect – that is, every action, every word spoken, and every thought carries with it a certain energy into the world, either positive or negative. Vow to not take part in negativity during your workday, even if you have to remind yourself of this goal several times during your shift. Focus on supporting others, helping others, and encouraging others. Remind yourself as often as needed that your actions, as well as your thoughts, directly impact your environment.

  •         Aspiration

Each and every day is a new opportunity to grow – as a person and as a nurse. Check yourself often to make sure you are always moving forward in your life and career; how can you bring more positivity into your world? Is it by taking a class? Earning a new certification? Learning a new skill? Being more organized? Whatever you aspire to do, do it to the best of your ability with each day serving as progress over the last day.

  •         Intentional Grounding

Take a few minutes before (and during) your work shift for contemplation, meditation, and prayer when you need to. It’s important to realign and center yourself. Cast your eyes downward or if you have the opportunity, close them. Focus on the rhythm of your breathing and stay in touch with your inner peace. Grounding yourself will bring you into the present instead of clinging to the past or worrying about the future.

  •         Energy Tapping

Chi, which is the universal life force, is present in every living thing on Earth. When we breathe clean air, exist in an organized environment, eat healthy food, and get proper exercise, it flows freely in us, through us, and around us. Taking care of YOU by establishing a self-care routine enables you to take better care of others while you stay energized and working to your maximum potential. Many people enjoy Reiki and massage therapy as part of their self-care routine.

  •         Affirmation

Each and every day, remind yourself of the value and esteem of your work – your chosen path in life. You walk the path of a healer, and although the road is often stressful, it is a privilege to be able to take that path. Reaffirm with yourself as often as necessary that the destination is worth the journey. You heal. You comfort. You save. You ease. Never forget how much meaning and value your work has.

  •         Mindfulness is Peace

When you are giving report, focus only on the report. When you are treating a patient, focus only on that patient. When you are speaking with a fellow healthcare provider, focus only on that person. Be aware of every aspect of the immediate task that is at hand at the time – being mindful and being present with those around you and with what you are doing is what Zen is all about.

It’s all about truly being alive, in the here and now, regardless of what life is throwing your direction at the time. Stay in touch with yourself, your inner voice, and your wisdom; you will then find that your ability to improve not just your workplace, but also your world, will blossom.

Whether you work in home health care, a long-term nursing facility, you’re a travel nurse, or you work in a physician’s office, clinic, or medical center, achieving Zen in your workplace each day is the key to being your best self, on and off the floor.

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