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What are the best gifts to honor nurses during nurses’ week?

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Every year in April, the hubbub of Nurses’ Week planning is palpable. Most hospitals (although not all) are gearing up for the one-week of the year that we pause and take time to celebrate nurses. I think it’s safe to say that thanks to this past year with COVID-19, nurses deserve the celebration of a LIFETIME.

If you’re in a leadership role, either you’ve planned nurses’ week like you’ve planned a wedding, or you’re scrambling around at the last minute to find some way to honor your nurses!

If you’re one of the nurses who are on the receiving end of such attentions, you probably fall into one of three categories: You’re excited to celebrate what it means to be a nurse and everything you have had to deal with this past year and look forward to being inspired, recognized, and honored. Or, you may be a nurse who is thinking about what goodies you’re getting – food, presents, extra coffee, etc. OR-you’re still shell-shocked from this pandemic that you haven’t even THOUGHT of Nurses’ Week.

Whatever the case my be, I want you to try something for me. Instead of focusing on the recognitions, awards, food and fun (well, please enjoy those too), I want you to turn the mirror towards YOU and focus on gifts you can give to yourself this year for nurses’ week.  

4 gifts to give yourself during Nurses’ Week:

  1. Hop on the path to continuous learning

Focus on YOUR learning, even if it’s not going back to school. We are living in the information era, not the industrial era. The people who survive and thrive will be the ones who recognize the need for continuous learning, both formal and informal, and find a way to develop a routine for learning and growing.

My routine: Every morning, no matter where I am, I set aside 30 minutes to read something that will improve myself as a human, as a nurse, or as a business owner. That’s 3.5 hours per week, 15 hours per month and 182.5 hours per year of continuous learning!

What routine can YOU develop to make sure you are surviving and thriving in the information era and not stuck in the industrial one?

  1. Take time

A nurse’s life is a hurried life. Time doesn’t change. The only thing that changes is our perception of time. During Nurses’ Week, I encourage you to slow down just a bit and savor the one thing that nobody can control, alter or buy – TIME.

“Take time to work – it is the price of success

Take time to think – it is the source of power

Take time to play – it is the secret of perpetual youth

Take time to read – it is the foundation of wisdom

Take time to worship – it is the highway to reverence

Take time to be friendly – it is the road to happiness

Take time to dream – it is hitching our wagon to a star

Take time to love and be loved – it is the privilege of the gods” ~ Unknown

Remember, time is not important. It’s what you do with time that counts!

  1. Simplify your life

We tend to make things so complicated by thinking that more is better. I’m telling you that more just adds more stress and more stuff to do!

What can you simplify?

Take a look around your house at your “stuff”. If it doesn’t serve an important function (like making you coffee!!) and it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it.

Do you really have to be involved in EVERYTHING?? Start learning to say no to some things so that you can say yes to the important ones.

The reason why so many people love the Italian way is because the Italians get it. They eat simply, love simply, and live simply. Oh, drinking wine with each meal doesn’t hurt either!

Simplify your life so that when you get to the end of life, you don’t realize that you missed it.

  1. Take care of your body

Several years ago, on January 1st, my birthday, I lost a best friend. Mike and I had been friends since the 3rd grade. And although he warned me (teehee), I married his older brother Paul. Although Paul and I divorced after 18 years, Mike and I remained great friends.

The problem is that Mike NEVER took care of himself. He had the worst eating habits of any human I’ve ever met. Mike would order 2 Double Whoppers with cheese, a large fry and an order of onion rings at Burger King for a snack!! Over time, Mike’s body started to fail him. He was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 17, went into chronic renal failure in his mid thirties, received 2 kidney transplants and then recently, suffered heart and liver failure.

On New Year’s Eve, they called the family in to see him. I was so grateful for the opportunity to tell Mike that I loved him and that it was okay for him to let go. 12 hours later, at the age of 51, he died.

What Mike’s death taught me is that you cannot expect your body to take care of you, unless you take care of your body.

Start and Stop Strategies to Take Care of Your Body

Whatever has been stopping you from taking care of yourself; don’t wait until it’s too late.

If you’re not exercising – START!

If you’re eating too much sugar and processed foods – STOP!

If you’re not eating fruits and vegetables – START!

If you’re smoking – STOP!

Although I will miss Mike terribly, I am choosing to do something positive by remembering that life is precious. If we are going to accomplish great things in this one life we have, we need to start by taking care of ourselves.

Miss you meatball (Mike)

By gifting yourself during Nurses’ Week, you’ll be experiencing lifelong rewards – not just during the week of Florence Nightingale’s birthday. After all, YOU are the greatest gift to nursing.

Happy Nurses’ Week!

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