By Shanda N. Whittle DNP, RN, CNL
I was reflecting on one of Jean Watson’s Caritas Quotes recently. In it, she speaks about our caring consciousness presence in any given moment and how this presence affects everyone and everything around us. So, what is this ‘caring consciousness presence’ and why is it important for us to be aware of it as nurses?
A caring consciousness presence is the “caring moment” that is created and experienced between the patient and nurse in the practice environment. We, as nurses, can become this environment. From this view, our presence, intentions, attitudes, communications, etc. are all critical to the health and healing of both ourselves and our patients. Yes, nurses need health and the ability to heal just as their patients do. And our health and wellbeing are the foundation for our patients’ health and wellbeing.
The American Nurses Association campaign for healthy nurses cites research showing that nurses are more likely to be overweight, have higher levels of stress, and get less sleep. During this national and global COVID-19 pandemic, these risk factors to the health and wellbeing of our nurses are increasing and putting the health of our nation at greater risk.
So, to get us all on a path to a healthier lifestyle, let’s do a lifestyle assessment of ourselves with a few quick questions. First, you’ll need a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. On the paper, I’d like you to draw seven circles or plates, one for each day of the week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.). Now, divide your plate into four pieces, carving out the amount of time you spend each day on 1) Personal responsibilities, 2) Healthy nutrition, 3) Self-care, and 4) Fitness.
Once you’ve done this, take some time to look over your plate for each day and answer these questions:
Are you satisfied with your current lifestyle?
Would you recommend your current lifestyle to your patients, family, or friends?
What problematic patterns do you see emerging from your current lifestyle?
Next, take a second piece of paper and draw another seven circles or plates and do the same thing, only this time you’re going to fill each plate with what you’d like to see your life filled with in terms of 1) Personal responsibilities, 2) Healthy nutrition, 3) Self-care, and 4) Fitness. Again, take some time to look over the plates that represent your optimal lifestyle and answer these questions:
What specific self-care goals would you like to integrate into your lifestyle? (Examples: knitting, a spa day, gardening, scheduling a massage)
What specific healthier nutrition goals would you like to integrate into your lifestyle? (Examples: Cutting out soda and drinking more water, starting the day with a healthy breakfast, limiting sugar intake to a specific amount)
What specific regular fitness goals would you like to integrate into your lifestyle? (Examples: Weight training for 20 minutes 3 days a week, walking at a moderate pace for 30 minutes 3 days a week, scheduling a yoga class 2 days a week)
By doing this self-assessment you’re one step closer to taking care of yourself so that you can be fully present in those caring moments with your patients. And by doing that, we’re one step closer to having a healthier nation, one nurse at a time.
If you’re interested in more information about the lifestyle assessment used here, you can find it in the following book by Gary Scholar: Fit Nurse: Your Total Plan for Getting Fit and Living Well
American Nurses Association. (2020). Healthy Nurse Healthy Nation Grand Challenge.