BE YOUR OWN FRIEND THIS CHRISTMAS WEEK

With the Christmas holiday this week, many people will be spending time with extended family and friends to celebrate. For some of us it is a time of warmth and love. For others, the holidays can be quite challenging and lonely. Most of us have at least one family member who knows how to push our buttons. It is up to us to manage how we relate to them so we can support and nurture ourselves.

Stress is a part of life and it is often a part of the holiday season, whether it is due to personality conflict, weather, travel, or lack of time to get it everything done.

The San Francisco sky was lit up with a soft beautiful pink hue yesterday morning when I went to work. By 4pm it was dark, cold and wet – a welcome site for local skiers. The sky has a variety of clouds moving through it, some pink and light while others are dark and threatening. Our minds have the capacity to hold joy and peace one moment and grief or stress in the next. Just as the clouds do not affect the sky, we can allow our emotions to have a minimal impact on the state of our mind if we allow them to float by and not identify with them.

So this week, know how to be your own friend. Do what you need to in order to take care of yourself. If you have a tendency to be hard on yourself, find some time alone, close your eyes, and reflect on something you have done or said in which you were kind, generous, caring or contributed to someone’s well-being.

You may also find it helpful to say these phrases to yourself:

May I be happy

May I be peaceful

May I be safe

May I be free from stress

 

I’d love to hear your strategy to take care of yourself this week!

Are your friends exhausting you?

nurse-sitting-hospital-bed-6427442.jpg

You don’t have to be Buddhist to know the Buddha taught a thing or two about suffering and the end of suffering.  What you might not know is he had several teachings on friendships.

 

Here is what he said:

“With regard to external factors, I don’t envision any other single factor like friendship with admirable people as doing so much for a bikkhu (a monk) in training who has not attained the goal but remains intent on the unsurpassed safety from bondage.  A bikkhu, who is a friend with admirable people, abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful.

people inspire or drain.jpg

 

I know this is true in my life.  When I spend time with friends who genuinely treat other people with respect and kindness, despite the challenges that life presents them, I am more inclined to act that way.  I am also more likely to abandon unskillful behaviors, such as gossip, for example, when I am around people who unknowingly set the bar high.  Whom  we surround ourselves with influences the actions we take, how we feel about ourselves and impacts our energy level.  We all are ultimately responsible for our own actions, but it is worth taking a look at the people you spend your time with.

 

Contracted energy

While it may work just fine for Garth Brooks to have friends in low places, you might want to think twice if you are feeling depleted by your friends on a regular basis.  Life challenges us all and we count on friends and family to support us through difficult times.  However, if you consistently feel depressed, tired, or negative about yourself after spending time with someone, take note.  The nursing profession puts us at risk for compassion fatigue. We need to be proactive on minimizing that impact in our personal lives.  Be strategic and set limits on how much time you make yourself available to this person. Do you truly need to spend time with him or her?  Are there any hidden benefits you gain, such as feeling needed or avoiding your own problems?

 

Expanded energy

Note where in your life you find yourself laughing, being yourself, and feeling genuinely listened to.  Keep it simple; spend more time with people who expand you.

 

Honor your own needs. 

As an extrovert and a “connector,” as Malcolm Gladwell refers to in his book, The Tipping Point, I am energized by people; but I also benefit from  alone time to recharge.  Figure out the recipe you need to restore your energy, make room for that in your life, and be wiling to disappoint someone to be true to yourself.

 

I recently read a book about horizontal violence in nursing . The author suggested one way of combating workplace toxicity was to avoid creating friendships at work with other nurses.  She suggested fostering friendships outside of work with people who are not affiliated with your employer.  We, as nurses, - myself included- sometimes over-share and get involved in each other’s lives without an invitation.  Is the solution creating stricter boundaries and avoiding friendships at work?

TGE1201_HOSPITAL_OPEN_HOUSE_JJ208.JPG

 I have a wide variety of friends: nursing and non-nursing.  While I certainly can appreciate less drama in the workplace, I can’t imagine my life without the rich friendships I’ve established with co-workers over the years.  What do you think?  I would love to hear your opinions on this.