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'Tis the season of giving. Retailers draw in shoppers with glitz and glitter. The pressure's on now to find those perfect gifts and accomplish all the items on the ever growing "to do" list. Of course, amid the hustle and bustle, our usual obligations are still there, compounding the demands on our already limited time and energy. Stress can build and sleep can suffer.
Fortunately, as nurses, we're pretty darn good at multitasking. It's a critically important organizational skill we learned early on to manage heavy or difficult workloads. We've trained our minds to stay several steps ahead of the task at hand. Given the complexity of the world today, multitasking ability is essential to handle the speed of life. So then what's the problem? In preparing for the future by staying three steps ahead, we lose the present.
The signs and symptoms are subtle. They include arriving at work with only a vague recollection of how you actually got there. Conversations that your spouse, kids, friends, coworkers, and even patients attempt to have with you are one-sided-you're not really present, they know it, and you feel guilty. You find yourself going through the motions for each activity in your day but never really pausing to appreciate the individual moments. Finally, there's the nagging frustration and anxiety that come from experiencing any perceived barriers or setbacks that throw you off your intended course or timeline. All in all, it's not an ideal way to live life.
The age-old advice to "take time to smell the roses" is really about being present in the moment and appreciating the here and now. This means tuning in to people who are trying to communicate with you and gifting them with your undivided attention, at least for a few precious minutes. Indeed, you may have to place some boundaries around the time you can afford to spend, but when you're present, you're really there with them. The gift of presence conveys that you care enough to personally connect and fully engage. It's the basis for healthy relationships and caring interactions. It's also a gift that you can keep on giving, year in and year out. With each recipient the exchange is unique, and you get to experience the joy of living moment by moment despite the speed of life.
Until next time...
Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM
Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2011 Vice President: Emergency and Trauma Services, Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.
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