ACHIEVING WELLNESS THROUGH COMRADERY
“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” (Paulo Coehlo)
(Reprinted with permission from the author and the Los Angeles General Medical Center)
After our recent COVID Epidemic, nurse “burnout” skyrocketed, to the point that the WHO (World Health Association) recently added the term “burnout” into their International Classification of Diseases. According to the ICD, burnout is a “syndrome that results from chronic workplace stress that is not successfully managed” (htt). Nurse burnout suddenly became a common disease, among the nurse workforce, and it’s consequences are disastrous.
Nurse burnout can lead to chronic stress, feelings of frustration, work dissatisfaction, sleep issues and mental health issues such as; depression. In a study released by the American Nurses Foundation, “60% of acute care nurses reported feeling burned out, 75% report feeling stressed, frustrated and exhausted and 52% of the surveyed nurses said they intend to leave their position” (American Nurses Foundation, 2022). These statistics are shocking and troublesome. To learn that our future generation of nurses are less “emotionally healthy and optimistic” about becoming a nurse should be a concern for everyone! This encouraged me to implement activities, within my unit, to help my fellow nurses find a healthy way to cope with stress.
In a blog post published by HNHN, (Healthy Nurse Healthy Nation, 2022), titled “The Power of Camaraderie: How Socialization Strengthens Nurse Wellbeing”, the author emphasizes that, as nurses, having a strong sense of camaraderie, is crucial to overcome burnout and help us engage in activities that improve our wellness. Because, “when people feel connected after socialization, evidence shows they are likely to live longer and have a greater sense of purpose” (Healthy Nurse Healthy Nation, 2022). Having opportunities to engage in meaningful and productive activities helps us create a working environment that foments teamwork and reduces our workrelated stress. We can learn from each other, different approaches on how to cope with stress, how to change our eating habits, and how to pursue a different lifestyle.
Our story begins back in March 2023, when some of my coworkers decided to join my weight loss challenge. It was a new and different activity, within our unit, that ended up being super fun and life changing for some of us. We all downloaded a phone app called Bettertogether, that helps keep track of our workouts and water intake. But, the most important feature of the application was the community chat.
We encouraged each other daily, sharing recipes, workout tips etc. When interviewing some of the participants, many stated that without getting the invitation to join this small challenge, they would have never started a wellness journey on their own. They also, stated that being included, made them more motivated to succeed. Being able fit in new clothing was also a big factor in motivating participation!
One of our participants Saul Pena, had an astonishing total weight loss of 31 pounds in the three months that the challenge lasted.
Saul states that being part of this workgroup helped him create a sense of accountability to regain control of his health. He states that the group help him increase his motivation.
Another participant Antoinet Jordan mentioned that having the motivation from the group helped her cope with some personal issues at the time. She felt motivated, and encouraged. Even some of her family noticed the change and stepped in to be part of her support system.
Doing this wellness challenge for three months had a huge impact on the health of some of us. It was amazing to see how we changed and transformed our lives. We spend an average of 90,000 hours of our lifetime at work, so I believe that time has to be productive and meaningful.
The Nursing profession, as a profession is constantly evolving; thus, we need to evolve with it. Our dynamics amongst colleagues must change and progress. No more “nurses eating their young” dynamics and no more culture of blame. We need to strive to create an inclusive nursing culture, that is based on nurturing healthy habits among ourselves. We need to try and help create transformational leaders than can bring change to our already overwhelmed health care systems.
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Such an inspiring article and really proud of the work you and your team have accomplished. Keep up the great work and hope that you may inspire others to do the same.