This time last year I wrote a blog called “2020 .. a year for us!” in which I shared my hopes for the year of the nurse and midwife, I wrote:
“What a time and opportunity to reset and think again …. 2020 year of the nurse. What better time for me as a nurse and indeed all nurses and midwives to start to think about themselves…. let’s take care of us !! This isn’t about being selfish, it isn’t about not taking care of our patients, this is about including US (nurses) in our care. It’s about taking care of and for each other and individual self care. It’s about using this amazing year to reset and think again about who we are as nurses and how we can continue to be the very best that we can be.”
Then Covid19 hit … and the energy we would have put into the year of the nurse and midwife celebrations moved sharply sideways (and increased 100 fold) into a pandemic response. This year has not been anything like we imagined, to say that we have nursed our socks off is an understatement …. even now there is no respite …2020 is challenging us right to the very end.
Perhaps then it’s time to reset again and in this brand new year it’s even more important to take care of “us”. We are tired, we are emotionally drained, we have seen the effects of this pandemic up close and personal, we have cried, we have worried, we have been so tired that even our little toes hurt, and we are nurses so we keep going …. BUT we need to rest or we will break.
Here are some of the things that have kept me going through 2020 and I am sure will keep me going through 2021:
- Having colleagues who are there for me – having supportive colleagues, people who know has been the cornerstone of my nursing practice this year. We have laughed together, cried together, listened to each other and simply just been there … but most importantly we have got through the year together.
- Cups of tea – never underestimate the power of a cup of tea, taking a few moments (and at times it has literally been a few moments) to hug a cup and switch off from all that is going on has been life saving for me.
- Crying – as nurses I’m not sure we recognise enough that it’s ok not to be ok, it’s ok to cry when you need to and I have to admit that I have cried this year and it has helped.
- Remembering why I am a nurse – OK so this one seems a bit “twee” but something that has really helped me is remembering why i became a nurse and remembering better times. What has really helped me to keep going is taking time to re-read old blogs and reflections I have written, it has really given me perspective and helped me to remember times before the pandemic and my personal nursing highlights.
- Remembering that there will be an end to this – this is hard, when you scroll down your tweets and you see that your fellow nurses are on their knees and colleagues are crying and your patients are dying it is extraordinarily difficult to remember that “this too shall pass” … but it will, sometimes this year I have needed reminding of this but as the vaccines get under way it is getting easier to remember.
- Switching off – I don’t mean in the metaphorical sense here … I mean literally switching off… switching off my phone, switching off the computer, switching off the TV and radio. The act of switching everything off and either going for a walk or sitting to read a book have been my moments of calm in the storm that has been 2020.
- Cups of tea – yep so important to me that I had to list it twice!
- Hugging the people I can hug – there are so many people we have not been able to hug this year so this has made hugging the people we can hug all the more important, furthermore there is nothing like hugging a reluctant teenager for ages!
- Exercise – exercise has been a huge part of nursing through the pandemic for me, although I have not been able to run as much as I would like this year due to injury I have walked, cycled and yoga-ed my way through the year. This has not only helped with my mental health but also by staying as fit and healthy as I can I feel I am doing my bit to stay out of hospital should I get Covid as I would have a better chance of it being less severe.
- Cups of tea – OK so a good cuppa is immensely important to me … so I had to mention it three times in the end 😀
My hope for 2021 and the Year of the Nurse and Midwife take 2 remains the same as it was for 2020 .. but in a great big, huge, ginormous neon sign:
2021 The Year of the Nurse & Midwife Take 2 ….the year of us ! I urge every nurse to use 2021 to care of themselves; look after yourself and look after each other .. now more than ever we need to care for ourselves and our fellow nurses.
Happy New Year