Covid-19 Mission For Masks: Where Nurses Can Share Anonymously

Covid-19 Mission For Masks: Where Nurses Can Share Anonymously

COVID-19:  Mission For Masks

We need our nurses to be healthy and safe, now more than ever.  Yet during the COVID-19 pandemic, in the United States, there have been numerous accounts in the media recently that that is not happening.  And some nurses are afraid to speak out.

But Sonja Schwartzback, a critical care nurse and doctoral student from New Jersey, created a Google document called COVID-19: Mission For Masks. Sonja’s objective was to give nurses an outlet to share coronavirus stories anonymously without fear of retaliation from administrators.

“There’s also a history within nursing of retaliation.”

Sonja discussed how she started the Google doc after receiving hundreds of questions from nurses and doctors via her Instagram account, where she has over 49k followers. In her eyes, nurses are feeling desperate, and their issues are not being appropriately addressed in the media.

In this article I wrote for nurse.org, I spoke about how many nurses are feeling out of control and need to prioritize their mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak.  Suggestion #7 for nurses was to talk to other healthcare staff who can understand their unique struggles during the COVID-19 crisis.  COVID-19: Mission For Masks is providing a platform for exactly that.

Some experts also say that healthcare professions are facing an increased risk of anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 outbreak. They need an outlet to communicate frustrations, concerns, and fears with healthcare professionals who understand their struggles.

The COVID-19: Mission For Masks document is an opportunity to serve as a platform for nurses to find strength in numbers, share what is working and what isn’t at their hospitals and give nurses a much-needed mental health outlet.

New York is the epicenter for coronavirus cases in March.  But officials state that COVID-19 cases are expected to explode exponentially, with deaths reaching from 100,000 to 240,000.

As a nurse, how are you dealing with the COVID-19 crisis?

Does your facility have the proper PPE for healthcare staff to manage this epidemic? Do you feel that you have reasonable equipment to fight this epidemic as a frontline nurse so that you do not get the disease yourself?  Do you need an outlet to talk with other nurses about how COVID-19 is being managed at your facility?

Many nurses have publicly documented quitting their jobs. They were NOT ALLOWED to wear masks because their facilities are unable to provide them, and they were not allowed to wear their own.

Here is the bottom line:   If nurses are unable to reasonably protect themselves from COVID-19, and more importantly, aren’t able to communicate with administrators about not having proper PPE – such as having a face mask on COVID-19 units – how can we expect nurses to continue giving adequate care for the sick?  Ultimately, our country will lose nurses, and patient’s lives in the wake.

As a mother with two small children, one who was born prematurely and could have increased risk of COVID-19 complications, how could I work the front lines as an experienced emergency room nurse without proper PPE?  If I wanted to protect my child from dying, the clear answer is NO WAY!

Nurses need an outlet more than ever.   What do you think?

If you are a nurse working with COVID-19 units, and you have something you want to share about your current work situation, but feel afraid because of retaliation, you can find the COVID-19: Mission For Masks doc here.

Feel free to leave a comment.

Additional recommended reading:

Simple Mom Self Care Goals You Need Now

Simple Mom Self Care Goals You Need Now

You can’t pour from an empty cup.  Here are a few helpful mom self-care tips to keep yourself happy, healthy, and sane.

Easy, achievable mom self-care tips:

Go to sleep earlier

To be a healthy mom you must get a good night's sleep.

Sleep is essential for life. That extra episode of television is not worth the agony of next day exhaustion. Browsing through a cell phone before bed will make it harder to fall asleep and may even disrupt the quality of your sleep. 

Insufficient sleep hurts mental health. There is a reason sleep deprivation has been used in history as a torture method.

Find a way to relax that works for you

Woman doing child's pose.

For me, taking a bath is like flipping an internal switch from action mom to zen mom. No matter how crazy the day is, I can turn it off with a bath. I add a few essentials oils and bath salts and voila! It’s a makeshift spa session. 

Eat more plants

Eat whole, organic foods, including many plants. There is no secret diet menu, no matter what the billion-dollar diet industry is telling you.

Instead of continually focusing on what you are eating, try the 90-10 rule. If you eat healthy nourishing food 90% of the time (plant-based, organic, whole foods), then you can relax and not worry about it the other 10% of the time (have some wine, yummy dessert, chill). On special occasions, it may be closer to an 80-20 rule (because mom needs to have a little fun sometimes too!).

The point is that the occasional indulgence is a beautiful thing so long as you treat your body well regularly.

Besides, we can’t expect our kids to eat well if we don’t. We are responsible for teaching our children healthy habits from a young age so that they grow up with the nourishment they need to grow, learn, and be amazing humans.

Limit your social media

moms on cell phones

By limiting your social media exposure, you unconsciously stop comparing your life to others, and in turn, decrease your stress levels. Also, reducing your use of social media will leave you less distracted and be more present in more critical daily activities.

We all know that social media is not a real representation of what is going on in people’s lives. It is a magnification of what people want you to see: slivers of primarily positive information that appears flawless, effortless, and often like never-ending, spontaneous fun (don’t we all want to project the best parts of ourselves). 

Take the time that social media is stealing from you and read a book, go for a walk, or meet a friend for coffee.

Say no more often

Permit yourself to prioritize the things that are most important to you. Mom’s needs come before getting every little chore completed. The laundry can wait until tomorrow if needed. The toys aren’t doing any permanent damage by lying on the floor a little longer. 

Sometimes when I put my daughter down for a nap, I have the intention of getting several chores out of the way. But I end up taking a nap myself instead. And I feel so much better as a result. 

It’s impossible to do every little thing. At some point, we have to say no. No apologies, just no.

What are you going to do to take better care of yourself this year?

Additional recommended reading:

Why A Social Media Break Is Healthy For Nurses

Why A Social Media Break Is Healthy For Nurses

Between my time working as an emergency room nurse and nurse mom blogger, I use technology almost constantly.  In fact, both of my jobs would be impossible to do without them.  It would be no understatement to say I am dependent on them.

However, after a particularity stressful year, I did a little soul searching to see where I could add a bit of intention in my life.   And minimizing my use of social media seemed like a good place to start.

After all, I mindlessly check one or more of my social media accounts several times a day.  And as a nurse and mom, my mind is spinning with 1000’s of to-dos already.  How hard could it be to take a social media break?

Now, this may seem counter-intuitive coming from a nurse blogger who uses social media for business. I’m not saying nurses should give up social media permanently.  But it may be helpful for nurses to take a social media break once in a while because our brains are constantly flipping through patient care tasks.

I did a social media break challenge for one week.

My experiment started easily enough. But just like clockwork, the minute I stopped paying attention, my fingers automatically tried to pull up my Instagram or Facebook accounts. My social media addiction was more ingrained than I thought.

My plan required increased preventative measures to ensure success. So I went a step further and deleted both the Instagram and Facebook apps off my phone. That way, if I wanted to use the apps, I would have to sign in via the internet and type in my password.

Wouldn’t you know, just the annoyance of having to type in my password was enough to remind me of why I had started this experiment in the first place.   I successfully created a barrier to help reinforce my social media addiction recovery! (Nurses are solution finders, what can I say!?).

Why nurses need a social media break

Do you remember what it feels like not to be constantly looking at your phone?

3 Reasons Why A Social Media Break Is Healthy For Nurses

#1.  It gives nurses an opportunity for more personal social engagement

A social media break can remind us to be more present with real people.  Sadly, social media is often not an authentic representation of what is going on in people’s personal lives. It is a magnification of what people want you to see: slivers of primarily positive information that appears flawless, effortless, and often like never-ending, spontaneous fun (don’t we all want to project the best parts of ourselves?).

#2.  It can increase productivity in things that matter most.

To make my point on this I’m going to create a hypothetical, but realistic situation: Let’s say a nurse browses social media for 15 minutes a few times a day: once before getting out of bed, once during a break from work, a couple more times at lunch and then one more time before going to bed in the evening (for a lot of people I know, that is a conservative estimate).

Social media browsing may seem like a harmless habit. But if you add up the time over a seven day period, you are talking about eight hours a week. Eight entire hours that you will never get back!  That is the same amount of time that non-nurses spend at work during a typical workday. Mindless internet and social media browsing can kill off the equivalent of almost one workday per week if you allow it to.

#3.  You may fall asleep earlier and have better overall sleep.

Cell phones emit bright blue light that is meant to stimulate the brain. By looking at a cell phone before bed, it causes the brain to stop producing melatonin, which is the hormone that cues the brain that it’s time for slumber. As a result, smartphone light can disrupt the sleep cycle, which makes it hard to fall and stay asleep.

Nurses already have to forfeit some sleep as part of the job, especially mid-shift and night shift nurses. Interrupted or lack of quality sleep is linked to myriad healthcare-related issues, including many cancers, depression, and weight gain. In other words, better sleep = happy nurses.

Taking a social media break is an excellent way for nurses to give themselves a mental break.

We all need to chill out once in a while and let our minds wander. Let’s give our brains the space to do so.  Living a life of intention requires making conscious changes to habits that appear harmless on the outside.

Are you a nurse in need of a social media break?  What other habits do you have that are not serving you well? 

HEY NURSES!  Remember to sign up for your FREE COPY of “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” E-book in the sign-up box below! (scroll down)

Additional Recommended Reading:

10 Day Essential Oil Starter Guide Challenge!

10 Day Essential Oil Starter Guide Challenge!

This post may contain affiliate links.  My disclosure page is really boring, but you can find it here

So you finally got (or are thinking about getting) the Young Living essential oils starter kit.

Congratulations!  You are in for a wonderful treat!

But first thing’s first.  What do you do with your kit once it arrives?

With a little practice you will get really good with your oils and will discover your own style.  But to get you moving in the right direction here is your 10 day essential oils starter guide challenge!

Education is Important!

The best way to learn how to use your oils is to try something new everyday.  If you purchased your starter kit through my blog you automatically became a part of our exclusive Facebook Group “The Oil Spill.”  This is a great resource to connect with people who have been using oils for many years and can share a lot of helpful information.

I am a registered nurse and I was introduced to essential oils through an Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program to use as a part of patient care at my hospital.  That was over 3 years ago and I have loved using essential oils for myself and my family ever since!

(If you don’t have a Young Living essential oils starter kit, but you really, really want one you are in luck!  You can order the starter kit here.)

So join us! But in the meantime, here is a little something to get you on your way.  (But beware, if you don’t have a starter kit now, this is really going to tempt you to get one.  Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!)

Ten day Essentials Oils Starter Guide:

Welcome to your essential oil starter guide challenge! Young Living essential oil starter kit.

Welcome to your essential oil starter guide challenge! Young Living essential oil starter kit.

Day 1:  Peaceful

Diffuse: 3 Lavender + 3 Stress Away.

Try an epsom salt soak by adding 3-4 drops of lavender with 1 cup epsom salts to your bath before bed.

Day 2: Immune Boost

Diffuse: 3 Thieves + 3 Lemon

Add 2 drops Thieves and 4 drops Lemon to your tea for an immunity boost.  Add 1-2 drops of Lemon to your glass of water.

Day 3:  Happy Day

Diffuse: 3 Peppermint + 3 Frankincense

Make a Peppermint and Frankincense oil roller (with fractionated coconut oil).  The Peppermint will open the senses with its strong aroma and the Frankincense helps the mind be calm, composed and centered.  Perfect for helping you stay awake and alert at work!

Day 4: Perk Up!

Diffuse:  3 Peppermint + 3 Lemon

Rub a drop of peppermint on the back of your neck when you wake up or before a workout.  Or inhale deeply before a yoga session or meditation (my favorite!).

Day 5: Health Wellness

Diffuse:  2 Lavender + 2 Peppermint + 2 Lemon

Try the NingXia Red sample packet with a drop of Lemon (served chilled). Feeling congested? Apply Raven to your chest.  Digestive system a mess?  Try DiGize and Peppermint around your navel.

Day 6:  Pain Free

Diffuse: 3 Raven + 2 Lemon + 2 Copaiba

Sore and strained muscles? Mix A few drops of carrier oil in your palms with Panaway. Rub it on your sore spots (neck, back, shoulders, etc.) Add Copaiba and Peppermint for added relief.

Day 7:  Sleep Tight

Diffuse: 3 Lavender + 3 Stress Away

Rub lavender and Stress Away on the back of your neck.

Day 8: So Fresh & So Clean

Diffuse: 3 Citrus Fresh + 3 Lemon

Use the sample thieves cleaner packet to make a bottle of all natural cleaner to use on absolutely everything! Add it to an empty 16 ounce spray bottle and fill the rest with water. Add a couple drops of Citrus Fresh for an added cleaning boost and great smell! Use Lemon to get off any sticky residues or add to your dishwasher for a streak free shine.

Essential oil starter guide challenge! Young Living essential oil starter kit.

Take the essential oil starter guide challenge! Young Living essential oil starter kit.

Day 9: Breathe Free

Diffuse: 3 Thieves + 2 Raven

Add a few drops of Raven and Peppermint to the bottom of the shower and breathe in deeply.

Day 10: Unwind

Diffuse: 3 Stress Away + 2 Peppermint

In a small glass bowl combine two drops each of Lemon, Lavender, and Frankincense with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Apply to your entire face. Let it soak in for a minute or two and then wipe off with a cotton pad or washcloth. Lemon helps with sunspots, Lavender soothes the skin and Frankincense is great for fine lines.

“That was amazing! But what do I do after I finish the 10 day starter guide challenge?”

Don’t worry, the love doesn’t stop there!  There are literally thousands of uses and combinations you can use.  Like I said earlier, if you purchase a starter kit with me here, then you automatically become a member of our exclusive Facebook group “The Oil Spill.”   It is a friendly group of women with a whole bunch of essential oil knowledge who discuss recipes and ideas everyday and share the latest news about Young Living essential oils.

Another great essential oil reference that I have been using for years is the Life Science Essential Oils Pocket Reference  7th Edition (this is the most recent version): This book is a GREAT tool for learning about essential oils.  It contains information regarding the history of essential oils, how they work, essential oil safety, techniques, how to make blends, and single oil data.  It is basically a bible for essential oil lovers.

Welcome to the world of essential oils.  Be well and thrive!

Do you have any questions about Young Living essential oils?  What are your thoughts?  I would love to hear!

Why Nurses Need To Practice Yoga:  Self Care For The Caregiver

Why Nurses Need To Practice Yoga: Self Care For The Caregiver

(This post may contain affiliate links.  My disclosure page is super boring but you can find it here.)

Many nurses are very good at encouraging patients to follow a regular exercise routine and at teaching ways to manage stress for optimal health. Taking their own advice about healthy lifestyle behaviors though, well, not so much.

As an emergency room nurse who has worked as a resource nurse on various units all over the hospital, I see first hand the outstanding care that is being given to our patients. The nurses I work with bend over backwards.  At times they even risk their own health and safety to care for total strangers.

The work can be back-breaking, literally. Most days are very physically demanding with little rest. Over time, the work is depleting to an RN.  Sometimes even resulting in permanent injuries (hello, chronic back pain!), extreme burnout or even depression.

How much work does it take to be a nurse?

Being a nurse in the hospital demands a lot on the body. The job often requires moving non-stop for grueling 12 hours shifts (or longer).  It can include lifting and turning patients several times throughout the day. In addition to physical stress, nurses are often multitasking multiple patients with unique medical issues and making clinical decisions in potentially life-threatening situations.

Nurse praticing yoga.

Yoga can help nurses take better care of themselves.

To say that being a nurse causes wear-and-tear on the body is an understatement. As a result of years of heavy lifting many RN’s are suffering from chronic back problems. I know several who have had to go out on disability and sadly still suffer from permanent chronic back pain.

In nursing school we are taught “proper body mechanics” that are supposed to prevent back injuries while moving, lifting or turning patients. Recently however, there is new evidence suggesting that their really is no safe way for nurses to lift patients.

In addition, being a nurse often requires walking up to 15,000 steps or more in a single shift. A study found in the National Library of Medicine reported that many nurses walk up to five miles in an average 10 hour shift. However, in the Emergency Room and on many other units, I would argue that we actually walk much more then that. In fact, I wear a pedometer at work and I have logged up to 35,000 or more steps in a single day. That is the equivalent of walking 14 miles in a single shift!

The emotional and physiological drain of being a nurse can be overwhelming.

Being in the hospital is stressful. As a result, sometimes patients or families take their stress out on the people they are in contact with the most: the nurses. Yet it is our job to remain compassionate and continue to advocate for our patients in spite of this.

Burnout in the profession is common. Even I have questioned my decision to become a nurse for this reason on a few different occasions. I’ve tried to explain to friends and family how incredibly complex and stressful being a registered nurse can be. I think it is just one of those things that you really can’t understand unless you experience it for yourself.

All venting aside, I’m not going to run off and chance careers, or encourage anyone from not becoming a registered nurse. I derive an immense amount of pride and passion for what I do.  I also enjoy working with intelligent people who have the same drive for helping people that I do.

It is, however, not a career for wimps.

Nurses need to practice yoga.

Nurse practicing yoga

There are so many physical and mental benefits to practicing yoga regularly.

Nurses need to make self-care a priority. Not only does self-care result in better overall patient care, but ultimately it replenishes our depleted reserves.  Yoga helps us take better care of ourselves and our families.

There is an endless amount of studies on yoga and its amazing benefits on physical and mental health. The Mayo clinic has stated that “yoga may help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lower your heart rate” among many other benefits.

For the purpose of this article I am focusing on three of the biggest nurse health related issues. But don’t be mistaken, there several more benefits then I am not mentioning here.

Benefits of yoga for nurses:

Stress management

As I mentioned earlier, nurses have a high workload in many hospital wards. The stress is compounded by managing patient healthcare needs and treatments, daily occupational stressors and even the many frequent changes in technology.

A study published in the National Institute of Biotechnology Information investigated the effects of yoga on stress coping strategies of ICU nurses. After only 8 weeks of yoga the results showed that the participating ICU nurses had significantly better focus coping strategies and a major reduction in perceived mental pressure. If that is what can happen after only 8 weeks, imagine the impact a regular, permanent yoga practice could have on stress management levels.

Prevent or eliminate chronic low back pain

Chronic back pain in the nursing population is a common ailment. An evidenced based review at the Texas Women’s University reported that estimates of chronic low back pain among nurses range from 50%-80%. Fortunately, the review also presented an overwhelming amount of studies that found that regular yoga significantly reduced symptoms associated with chronic low back pain and greatly improved overall physicality.

Yoga stretching not only increases flexibly, but increases muscle strength and prevents injuries such as chronic lower back pain. In a career as physically demanding as nursing, the more physically stable we are, the better care we can give to ourselves and our patients.

Prevent burnout and compassion fatigue

Nurses practicing yoga

Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program training at UCLA Medical Center. Nurses are learning how to integrate holistic healthcare like yoga with traditional medicine.

Lack of self-care can easily result in burnout and compassion fatigue in the nursing profession. As much as I hate to admit it, even I have questioned how long I can continue with the immense workload and emotional drain that is required of me as a nurse. Thankfully, I have found a productive way to manage this is through yoga and meditation.

A study published in Workplace Health & Safety on yoga for self-care and burnout prevention of nurses found that yoga participants “reported significantly higher self-care as well as less emotional exhaustion upon completion of an 8-week yoga intervention.” While the control group demonstrated no change throughout the course of the study, the yoga group showed a significant improvement in scores for self-care, mindfulness, and emotional exhaustion outcomes.

Yoga is good for you!

Yoga is a productive way to prevent some of the most common health ailments among nurses. Empowering nurses in self-care helps to create a happier, healthier and more productive work environment.

For better or worse, nurses serve as role models in the healthcare community. We need to practice what we preach. Why would a patient listen to our advice on how to life a healthy life if we are not living one ourselves?

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love

Additional reading:

Recommended Reading

8 Ways Nurses Can Stay Healthy

Pregnant Nurse Precautions To Consider At Work

3 Crucial Reasons Nurse Need Yoga

Headspace:  How An App Is Making Meditation More Attainable

Headspace: How An App Is Making Meditation More Attainable

(This post may contain affiliate links.  My disclosure page is really boring but you can find it here.)

An app for meditation? Huh?

Those were my thoughts when my husband told me about an app called Headspace that he had been using for 30 days straight. And then he suggested that I start using it too (apparently he can tell when I’m not handling stress very well).

Headspace is an app that has many different meditations each lasting 10 minutes. So I really don’t have an excuse that I don’t have time because it’s only 10 minutes!

Meditation is harder than it looks.

Woman meditating

Meditation is harder than it looks.

I have been practicing yoga for about 11 years on a regular basis. In that time I have probably meditated (or attempted to meditate- it can be a challenge!) hundreds of times.

The only thing that is consistent for me in meditation for me is that it’s always a little bit different each time. In other words, it’s not consistent at all.

Some days when I reach Savasana at the end of my practice I drift peacefully and effortlessly into the depths of meditation and I feel like I’m floating on a cloud.

On other days, my brain won’t stop reminding me of my to do list or rehashing a conversation with a really mean, difficult patient from my last shift at the hospital.

Like yoga, meditation is a practice. There is no good or bad. It just is what it is at the time. You can keep practicing to train your mind to do better the next time. And then eventually your brain is rewired by the habitual repetition of meditation and it becomes easier.

Setting aside time for meditation is the first step.

Since the birth of my daughter 20 months ago meditation has been a stretch for me and it than it has in a really long time. It’s hard to train your brain to relax when your mother of a toddler with a career as an RN.

And I really just don’t have a time like I used to (isn’t that everyone’s dilemma?). Since Zoe graced us with her presence the only times I have really truly been able to meditate have been when I have been lucky enough to squeeze in an actual studio yoga class. Which to be honest, is not frequently.

I do some yoga at home every day. But it’s mostly some stretching, a couple a sun salutations, an inversion or two, and then I call it a day. Sometimes I may even get to do it twice (usually next to my daughter if she’ll play long enough by herself) for anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes or so.

Thing is I never actually get to the meditation part. And I am really craving more meditation in my life.

So one of my new goals is to try and fit in 10 minutes of meditation every day. No excuses!

This is where the app, Headspace, comes into play.

Do not disturb sign

Mediation requires at least a few minutes of uninterrupted time. Don’t confuse meditation with taking a nap!

As I mentioned earlier, my husband introduced me to this app a couple of months ago. He had just completed 30 straight days of practicing meditation with it. I had noticed that he had been chill in recent days, and now I know why.

I had thought he was just laying down to take a quick nap. Ha! He was actually listening to the app on his headphones under the covers. Sneaky…

I dabbled with the app for the first time a few weeks ago. I tried sitting still with my headphones on while sitting on my couch while my daughter was napping. But my heart wasn’t in it and I just couldn’t get into the idea of using an app for meditation. So I quit.

But this week I got some interesting news that reminded me that I need to be taking better care of myself and not stressing myself out to the max! I won’t go into that now. But the point is it can be a good thing to get a little nudge of consciousness that says the only person responsible for your health is you!

Funny, that’s the exact thing I say to my patients. Hmmm….

So now I’m giving this Headspace app thingy a whole new chance. If it works so well for my husband, why am I not all over this thing?

I tried it tonight and it was, well, nice actually. I definitely chilled out, felt my muscles melting into the floor, much like I used to after yoga class.

The instructor has a nice soft British voice that was calm and cool and walked me through the process of letting go of my thoughts.

It felt really awesome to be meditating again actually. I’m going to try to do it tomorrow before I get out of bed. If I happen to wake up before Zoe does.

Ill let you know how I feel after 30 days!

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love

Recommended Reading

8 Ways Nurses Can Stay Healthy

Nurse Life:   How To Find A Work Life Balance

Why Nurses Need To Practice Yoga:  Self Care For The Caregiver

7 Ways To Beat Nurse Burnout