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The Power of Resiliency

A nurse dares to take on a role where there are, more often than not, times of doubt, defeat, and disappointment, yet the nurse is expected to be resilient enough to keep going.

Resiliency has been described as an individual’s capacity to accurately perceive and respond (well) to stressful situations.  The profession of nursing is composed of resilient people, i.e. people who can ‘bounce back’ and keep moving forward.  Every nurse who makes it through nursing school comes out resilient, however, with changing health care cultures and the stressful and challenging situations nurses face every day, many of us are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, hopeless, and tired.  We aren’t ‘bouncing back’ like we should.

Why are we failing at resiliency?


1. Lack of work/life integration

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Everyone is familiar with the term ‘work-life balance’ but, when thinking about this description of life, work is placed at one end of the see saw and life is placed at the other.  As a child, do you remember playing on the see saw?  As one end went up, the other went down and it was near impossible to keep the see saw ‘balanced.’  Work life balance means keeping professional life and personal life equal but separate…. this is not how life works. Work and life are integrated, and it is the responsibility of all of us to cultivate a life where our values, actions, contributions to our community and personal growth co-exist.  When we live our lives authentically, with integrity and are able to get things done that are good for us as individuals and for the people around us, our resiliency flows.

2. Not asking for help

Our job as a nurse centers on helping others.  This is what we do.  Why then, do we find it difficult to ask for help when we need it? Is it pride? Fear of rejection? Is it the ‘martyr’ syndrome, (as my sisters call it)? Nurses struggle to be all things to all people, but that is unrealistic.  Reaching out to your fellow nurse when you need help is not a sign of weakness or incompetence…asking for help allows another nurse to help you, which is what our profession is all about.

3. Not building each other up

Nurse bullying is real…and nurses who act like bullies are not considered resilient nurses.  Resilient nurses not only take care of themselves, but also practice the art of having the backs of their colleagues.  Offering support, mentorship or just a shoulder to cry on is an act of resilience.

4. Lack of emotional intelligence

Resilient nurses are aware and in tune with their feelings and emotions.  These nurses are not afraid to talk about their feelings and don’t let emotions rule their life.  Resilient nurses know  just because they may be struggling, does not mean they are failing.  Struggle means growth and growth can only happen outside of our comfort zone.  Being mindful and self -aware can open you up to both joyful and painful experiences and can awaken kindness, compassion and empathy towards yourself and others.

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