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Sharon Weinstein
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Work-based downtime...the norm, rather than the exception! 

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Stress is overwhelming, and workplace stress has become a ‘given.’  We can overcome that stress by creating an internal respite center whose goal is to provide a safe, calm place in which nurses can regain momentum, renew the spirit and refresh…

Reinventing yourself…becoming more of YOU

Career building is a life-long endeavor, and having a nurse/coach is the first step toward creating your future. Has your path led you to a forked road where “straight ahead” is no longer an option? Perhaps this is a personal choice or because the organization has changed and your skills no longer fit the new business focus. Or, are you merely at a crossroads where you can continue on your present course, but want to consider the options those other directions offer? Regardless of what brought you to your present place, it may be time to step back, take a deep breath, and reflect on a new vision of what a career might mean for you.

Going Forward or Stepping Back
Realizing you need change to get out of your rut is the first step. Once you’re there, spend some time thinking about which direction you want to go. Do you want to change into a new career? Stay in the same career but move forward into a promotion? Stay in the same career but move backward into a prior job that you enjoyed, was more meaningful, and that was less stressful? Segue into an “unjob” (contract, freelance, or self-employment work) or put your career on hold (sabbatical or leave of absence) while you explore those things you always wanted to do that offer zero or minimal financial compensation. This could mean honing an art like pottery or painting or even exploring missionary work. Take the time to reflect on how your life purpose and your dreams should direct your career choices. And yes, it could mean redefining yourself as a nursing professional.

How Do I Know When Enough is Enough
Take a moment to reflect on your own career. If you were to lose your job today, how would that affect you? If you needed a professional recommendation, who would you contact to provide it? How would that recommendation look and feel? Do others think of you as a resource, as a go-to person? You may love your work, and dislike those with whom you work. Work satisfaction studies reveal that job frustration is the #1 problem that people express. We have all experienced the typical ‘bad day at the office’ - so when is enough just that - enough? I recommend listening to your body; it is a great indicator. If your job makes you ill, it may be time to look elsewhere.

Can you fix what is not working about your job? Can you change units, or move your desk to another location? Sometimes, even changing the position of your desk helps. Is there an opportunity for professional growth and can you learn from this position and use that knowledge to advance your career?
What kind of work and work setting excite you? What would give you great joy in the workplace? Do you prefer to work alone, or as a part of a team? What steps have you taken thus far to change your situation and what is your timeline for change? Put yourself in a position in which resignation is a good choice, rather than a desperate one.

Nursing is a wonderful career and an honorable profession; new opportunities offer new alternative for you as a nursing professional.

Are you a Stress-Free Mom?

“Sometimes it seems your ever-increasing list of things to do can leave you feeling totally undone.” –Susan Mitchell and Catherine Christie

The words ‘mom’ and ‘stress’ are often subsumed. How can you possibly separate these two words and achieve balance in your life? Let’s look at ‘mom’ first. Mom is all things to all people, able to everything but leap tall buildings. Mom is a superheroine; she can do it all, but can she have it all? We are about to find out. There are no real superheroes. My 7 year old grandson tells me that the real superheroes are first responders who truly save lives. Batman and Robin may not be waiting for the red phone to ring from the commissioner’s office. And, I understand that the new Robin crime-fighter in the latest Batman sequel is a female! We need to realize that we can work hard, reduce stress, gain confidence, control our time, simplify our lives, and still have some form of stress.

Now, let’s look at stress – what is it and why does it matter?
The pressure is overwhelming – to be the best mom, engaged in our family’s activities, the best worker or stay-at-home manager, the best everything. Can we really be the best? We can try, but at some point in the process, stress enters the picture and gets in the way. What is stress? It is a specific response by the body to a stimulus, such as pain or fear that disturbs or interferes with the normal function. We hear about stress every day. It affects both our minds and our bodies. Job stress increases the risk of heart disease and the development of back- and upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders. Clearly, we can reap significant benefits from reducing the stress in our lives at work and home.

How is stress measured?
Before we can create a formula for stress relief, we need to better understand how we measure stress. How do you know when stress has taken its toll and you can no longer continue with the status quo? How do you know when you have ‘had it?’ The human system can tolerate a tremendous amount of stress. Over the years, however, too much stress breaks down your resistance to illness and disease. Remember, the negative consequences of your stress are strongly influenced by your rest habits. Rest, you say! What is that? Are you telling me that rest if a four-letter word that is not a part of your vocabulary? Well, trust me – rest is the critical element in being a sassy, stress-free mom!

Will rest work for you?
What’s relaxing for one may not be for another. You may try relaxation and find yourself impatiently tapping your finger, wishing it to be over! You probably need it more than those who can easily and deeply relax. It may take you longer to learn to quiet your mind. It took my grandchildren to tell me to “Chill out and relax.” Take heart, you can learn. The trick is to find a technique that works for you personally. Begin by choosing a method that appeals to you while allowing your mind to tailor it to work better as time goes by.

In my stress management workshops, I offer alternatives to relieve stress, such as:
• Set aside 20–30 minutes of uninterrupted time on a non-digesting stomach (before you eat a meal, not right after).
• Play relaxation music if you like.
• Sit upright with your spine straight and both feet on the floor. You can also lie down (don’t fall asleep.)
• Begin with deep breathing for a minute or two or until your body relaxes and experiences a “body sigh.” (This is when your body gets progressively more relaxed with each breath and at one point it almost sighs into a deeper level.) Then, allow your breathing to return to normal and begin to focus on your chosen relaxation technique.
• It’s perfectly normal for distracting thoughts to enter your mind. Take another deep breath whenever you become distracted and think to yourself, “oh well,” then return your breathing to normal and to your relaxation technique. Or gently push away your distracting thoughts. Imagine pushing them to join other background thoughts that are circling above your head.
• Relax for 20 minutes (or work up to it). Set a quiet alarm for 25 minutes in case you don’t come out of it on your own.
• Gently return your focus to the present and stretch before getting up.
Practice this powerful skill of deep relaxation regularly. Once you get good at it, I can almost promise you you’ll find it to be one of the four most powerful stress reduction techniques (the others are regular exercise, humor, and great problem solving).

Squeeze a few minutes of relaxation into each day
Far too many of us lead lives that are frenzied and hurried from the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we crawl into bed at night. The more packed every moment of your day is the more you need to make time to relax for a few minutes of deep breathing, or, if possible, 20 minutes of deep relaxation or yoga. Making this a habit will keep you in better stress shape for the day that chronic stress knocks on your door, which it almost certainly will if it hasn’t already.

Create your own stress-free mom balancing act
We all need balance, and in order to achieve balance, we need to find and share our bliss – what brings us the greatest joy. Think about what makes you get out of bed in the morning and what brings you the greatest joy.

Find and Share Your Bliss
Set aside time for yourself every day. This can be a quiet time that you schedule into your day, every day. Use this time to think, write, read, meditate or do anything else that will further your passions. Those around you will adjust quickly to this time and will not interrupt you. It is your time to be, and to appreciate, you.

Focus on what you love, eliminating as much as possible that does not feed your joy or energy. Go with your feelings and emotions and do what feels good! So many of us have allowed others to tell us what we should do, think, and feel for so long that it might take some time for you to find your bliss. Stick with it and the world will be at your command.

Mom, the superheroine, can become stress-free and create a life in balance that brings fulfillment, engages family, and celebrates self.

Preferment…out of the kitchen and into one’s life!

Within the past few months, I have attended multiple nursing conferences, including the ANCC Magnet Conference, STTI, and the Academy of Nursing. Reconnecting with colleagues from across the globe, it is not unusual to ask what one has been doing. And, well over 20 of the responses from former Academic Deans, Endowed Chairs, CNOs, Association Executives and more included the word ‘preferment.’ Intrigued, I asked for more information. Were they retired, still working, working part-time, or picking and choosing those projects with which they wanted to align themselves? Nearly all of the responses addressed the concept of ‘picking and choosing’ or preferring one project over another and one subset of professionals with whom to work over another.

My own professional colleagues vary in age group from millennials to the C-suite and from sometime work to full-time plus work. Having worked full-time plus in the past, logging over 100 hours per week, 3 countries per week for over 10 years, I fully understand the idea of ‘picking and choosing’ one’s activities and potential partners.

Still intrigued, I researched the word and discovered the concept of prefermented dough to improve quality naturally and traditionally. Great concept, but being a non-bread maker, the term did not meet my immediate needs. Preferment is also the name of a champion horse; a non-equestrian, I continued my search for the right description. I was seeking information on what happens post-official retirement – in the healthy, seasoned professional population.

I can easily relate to the idea of retirement as a significant milestone and adjustment for my peers. Healthy, financially secure and energetic, they are revisioning postretirement life and moving from the comfortable rocking chair to a state of preferment, with an opportunity to refocus on new structure and purpose, including time for leisure, continuous learning, new pursuits, and perhaps encore careers.

It’s not retirement, it’s preferment, because this phase of one’s life provides the opportunity to do the things you prefer and are most meaningful to you. Only you can determine what those things are. Only you can identify where you want to spend your time and with whom. Only you can decide whose lives you want to impact and in what ways. As professionals, those of us in the clinical arena or in academia have been blessed with extensive careers during which we have done meaningful work. We are the seasoned professionals!

The word preferment has definitely advanced from the kitchen and taken a prominent place in the lives of my colleagues. Regardless of their age groups…they are adopting this term as one of endearment and creating their own next Act…the one that will ignite their passion, bring fulfillment, and be preferred.

What brings you joy?

I have often said that getting up on this side of the earth each day is a great joy – think about the alternatives. They certainly are not as pleasant, unless you live below ground and are accustomed to the darkness.

So, what brings you joy? Is it the light of day, the sound of laughter, the view outside of your window, the line at the school bus stop, the free samples at the grocery store, the magical coupon that appears in today’s newspaper, the app that you have finally mastered, the game that you won, the puzzle that you solved, a clean bill of health, or a new job?

Have you given much thought to the concept of joy, and how it changes your outlook, sets the pattern for a new day, and is shared with others? For some of us, being joyous is a habit. We love what we do, how we do it, and the impact that it has on others. We delight at the ability to share and to care. We welcome the new day with a smile. We know that joy represents happiness, contentment and satisfaction.

What brings me joy besides getting up on this side of the earth? It is the knowledge that I have an amazing family, good health, a comfortable home, passion for my speaking career, and a love of life. It is the smile that I can bring to the faces of others, the thank you for a job well done, the ability to impact the lives of others in special ways. It is the call from a grandchild, the Skype call that allows me to see them live, or the request to ‘Face time.” Life is good! Life is beautiful! Life is replete with joy!

Onboarding crosses all lines

I onboard others and I have been onboarded myself! As a consultant to the human capital, talent management, people operations, employee experience, people resources, employee engagement, happiness management sectors, I have seen departments referred to as:

• Employee Management Care Unit
• People Resource Center
• Talent Management
• People and Change
• Human Relations
• Employee Support
• Talent Resources
• People Operations
• Labor Department

Call the department what you want. Changing the name without changing the focus is not enough, and it all comes back to onboarding.

Onboarding, also known as organizational socialization, is the mechanism through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective organizational members and insiders. It also refers to adding a new professional expert to a web-based organization, or creating a new profile for a speaker or trainer.

Let’s examine the process in the workplace. We have a new employee start-date. Perhaps we have them ‘onboard’ to our online system prior to that date so that we have electronic copies of their profiles. Then, we schedule an orientation process with multiple departments, multiple employees, and in multiple locations. In some scenarios, we have the new employee ‘buddy’ with a more seasoned employee to understand the intricacies of the position, the values, and the culture of the organization.

During the fairly traditional 90 day probationary period, we encourage the new member of the team to build rapport with the company, management, and coworkers. Think about it – do we provide support and direction/training, or simply training. In order to engagement new staff member, we need to onboard, support, and train. Onboarding reveals that an employee feels, sees, and hears after the start date.

A Balanced Approach
Training is fuel for the onboarding engine and without fuel, the engine will fail. Approach your new-hire program with care, taking time to consider everything that an employee will need to succeed at their job. Training should cover programs, best practices, technology and equipment and have goals clearly stated; onboarding doesn't stop at company policies, facility tours and department introductions.

Each year, technology advances and a new generation of applicants are joining the workforce. With it, the methods of attracting, guiding and retaining workers are transforming. Don’t get tied up in the details of a training program only to leave the new hires’ progress and comfort out of mind. A new-hire program that gives as much value to how employees are feeling throughout the process as it does the process itself is one that will succeed.
Onboarding crosses all lines, in all types of settings. Call it what you wish:
• Employee Management Care Unit
• People Resource Center
• Talent Management
• People and Development
• Human Relations
• Employee Support
• Talent Resources
• People Operations
• Team Member Services

Whatever ‘it’ is called, it is the sector responsible for engaging employees. Be sure that the process fits the purpose, and reap the rewards.

It’s okay to say, “NO!”

Women are Earth personalities. What does that mean? According to Ancient Chinese Medicine and the Theory of the Five Elements, women do for others before they do for themselves. The lunches are made, the laundry is done, the lawn is mowed, the homework is checked, the refrigerator is stocked, the trash is emptied, and the dog’s walked. A simple checklist of everything for everybody, except oneself…and that is why a woman is ‘earthy.’ In nursing, it is clear. The nurse cares for others before caring for him/herself. The nurse always says, ‘Yes’ to the extra shift, overtime, assisting peers. The nurse probably also says, ‘Yes’ to the relative in need of a place to stay, some money to tide him over, a friend in need of a ride, or a child in need of a hug.

Everybody knows someone who has asked, and to whom we just cannot say, ‘No.’ In B is for Balance, I address why it is okay to say, ‘No’ and the fact that ‘No is a complete sentence.’ It does not require justification, excuses, reasons, or supporting documentation. It is simply a ‘No.’

It is essential to set boundaries in your personal and professional life. How does one begin?
• Identify your limits (know what makes you stressed and uncomfortable
• Pay attention to your feelings
• Give yourself permission
• Consider your environment
Like you, I probably said, ‘Yes’ much too often. I was the one I just described. I worked the extra hours. I took home the assignment that was due the next day. I stayed late to help my peers. I went out at 11 pm to Walmart in search of a lunchbox for a visiting grandchild. I returned the books to the library, completed the website revisions, led the project team, and…I was known as the ‘finisher.’ My former boss often referred to me in that way to describe the fact that I left nothing undone, and I could be counted on to get the job done…no matter what it might take in terms of time, money, energy, spirit.

And what did I get in return? I had great satisfaction in the fact that my work was complete, required little change, was timely, and that I could be counted on. I loved that feeling, and I loved helping others. But, one day I realized that I could no longer work 100-hour weeks and that I could no longer be the only one on a project team completing the project. I realized that I had no time for myself, for my family, and for the life that I wanted to live.
Now, I regret the times when I failed to say no just because of peer pressure. Let’s learn to face the music here: saying yes to everyone is stressful. It’s selfish. And it’s definitely not good for your mental, physical and spiritual health!

My friend, it’s time you start saying no. No to people, you don’t like, no to parties you don’t even fancy and certainly no to activities that don’t make you a better person.

How does one escape a trap that one has built? How does one shift the mindset to learn to say, ‘No.’ Go ahead and say no, because:

1. You don’t owe anybody anything.
2. You can never control everybody’s opinion of you.
3. You’re the only one who can really identify your priorities in life.
4. You’re your number one citizen.
5. Life moves on.

The Disease to Please
Millions of people suffer from what author/psychologist Harriet Braiker describes in her book of the same name. These ‘people-pleasers’ think that they are making others happy when they are actually making themselves miserable. Saying ‘No’ is a generous thing to do…it frees us from making a shallow commitment and ensures that when we do say ‘Yes’ – our heart is in it!

So where do we begin? I suggest the following:
- Declare a “no phone zone.” Whether it’s your bedroom or the dinner table, just say no. That goes for your kids as well; let them keep their technology away from the dinner table and enjoy family time.
- Carve out four hours for a time-out each weekend! Enjoy family, friends, the news, or a show - and be truly offline.
- Schedule time with friends – just to catch up or just to chat! Yes, pick up that phone, and not to text or email, but simply to place a call. Schedule a coffee meeting, or lunch out. Revisit the schedule and get to know one another again.
Now that you know how – will you implement these simple steps? Will you treasure that Earth Personality that allows you to do all for others – but take it a step beyond and do something for yourself.

About Sharon…
Sharon M. Weinstein, MS, RN, CRNI, FACW, FAAN, CSP
Sharon is an energetic, motivating and highly skilled professional speaker and author specializing in work/life balance. After all, she wrote the book. She is the founder of SharonMWeinstein, an LLC and two not-for-profits.

She holds the coveted Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation, the highest earned international recognition for professional speakers. This makes her one of only 12% of all speakers to hold this designation and one of only 21 nurses in the world with this credential.

She uses her nursing platform to educate others about the need for work/life balance, fatigue and stress management, and gratitude. A past president of the Infusion Nurses Society and past chair of the Infusion Nurses Certification Corporation, she is best known as the author of Plumer’s Principles and Practice of Infusion Therapy and B is for Balance. She is Vice President of NSA-DC and Dean of the Speaker’s Academy.

She rode a camel in Cairo, was a delegate to the Women’s Conference in Beijing, designed the foreign patient department at the Kremlin Hospital in Moscow, and played with the penguins at Phillip Island Nature Park, Australia.

You talk about your professional and personal life as if they can be separated. The truth is you have one life to live. The balance between work and life is a reflection of the balance within you. Life/work balance is a barometer for well-being in your personal, professional, and family life. Find out about the relationship between mind, body, and spirit and use 12 steps to reach the B in Balance.

Balancing a career or business with your personal life can be challenging, but not impossible.Take action to build the life and career you want, need, and deserve with balance. For a free chapter from B is for Balance, contact me now.

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