Each month I focus my business around one aspect of well-being as a way to create wellness themes. I write, speak, post quotes/articles, and offer my monthly wellness workshop around a topic. This past month I’ve been focusing all of my efforts and energy on the topic “letting go.” I find this theme is a crucial component to our health, but is so often one that is overlooked or forgotten. As nurses we frequently face issues that require us to practice letting go.
The first main component that I think most nurses face is the challenge of letting go of our need to control. I know for me when I worked on my inpatient psychiatric unit I struggled with this quite often. I often ran charge for our floor and was a very organized and strategic charge nurse. I had the day planned and the patient flow mapped out before morning medications were all dispensed.
No surprise that I did not like things that came up unexpected or that threw off my strategic plans!
I know this sounds crazy since working on a busy inpatient unit you have to expect that things will change at any given moment. But that was just how I was. I liked to organize things very thoroughly and I did not like it at all when something changed the plans.
I believe that many nurses can relate to my difficulty with letting go. How often do you hear nurses say “That’s not how we do it over here on our unit”? What happens when your organization implements a new policy or procedure? How many people get nervous or unhappy around change? We like things as we are used them, right? It is comfortable and safe. We don’t like to let go of the way we are used to situations and circumstances.
Even worse, our inability to let go can impact patient safety and quality of care. I’ve even seen staff members get into arguments in patient care areas because they do not want to “back down.” Their way is the right way and they will argue to the death. They are unable to let go of their need to be correct.
When we tightly grip something, what happens? Well, think of yourself on a beautiful sandy beach. Pick up a handful of sand. As you loosely hold it in your palm you are ok…the sand stays put for the most part. But then close your fingers and try to squeeze that sand as hard as you can. What happens now? The sand quickly and easily falls through the cracks and we lose our handle on the grains. The tighter we try to hold onto something the harder it will be to sustain. We have to be open to letting go.
What are some practical techniques we can try to strengthen our letting go muscles?
- Write an “unfriendly letter.” Think of a situation that makes you angry or upset. Take out a piece of paper and write that situation a letter. Write out all of your feelings, thoughts, and choice words about this issue. Don’t hold anything back. Because guess what? When you are done, take that paper and rip it up. Tear it into teeny tiny pieces and just let those feelings go as the pieces sift through your fingers.
- Practice an energy of compassion. Think of a person that you cannot stand. I know we all have one person in our life that causes our skin to crawl when we think of them. Now close your eyes and see this person in front of you. Say to yourself mentally, “Like me, this person is doing their best. Like me, this person is trying to be happy. Like me, this person is experiencing pain and suffering. Like me, this person is living the life in the best way they know how.” Really see that person as you see yourself and let go of uncomfortable feelings around them.
- Physically let go. Tense up each area of your body and breathe into it. As you exhale, let go of any stress or strain. Do this throughout your entire body from toes to head.
The more we are able to release our stress…the more we can let go of our need to control…the happier and healthier we will be!
Find Coach Scala: