Everyone deserves to be happy; it’s something that we should all strive for in life and something that there is no reason not to be able to achieve. Although we may not like the idea of equating our happiness in life with our work, the fact is that we spend so much time working that there is certainly a correlation. If we’re happy at work, we’ll be much more likely to be happy in the rest of our lives too. If we’re not happy in work, the opposite is true. How we think about our careers directly relates to how happy we are in life. It makes a lot of sense; we spend around one third of our lives working, and it often dictates how we think about ourselves and how we want others to think about us.
It would be impossible to say that one career will make you happier than others – this is something you need to determine for yourself, and it will depend on a lot of things. However, many people do find that nursing is a career that offers plenty of happiness because it is so rewarding. There are many positive things to say about nursing, and many reasons why you might choose this particular career. The fact that it can make you happy is just one of them.
Of course, there are things you’ll need to do to ensure that your nursing career is a happy one. Read on to find out what they are.
Create You Own Happy Space
One of the issues with nursing and something that can remove some of the happiness from the job is that it is so busy. There is hardly any time to really relax and take a break because each shift is going to need your full attention and as much time as you can give it. From the beginning of your shift to the end, there will be many different tasks to do and lots of requests for your time. In many cases, you’ll need to prioritize the work so that you can ensure you get the most important tasks done. There will be some things you simply don’t have time for.
Being busy is good as it prevents boredom, and when you’re a nurse that activity comes with a set of challenges that you have to spend your time unraveling; this is also good as it keeps your brain working well and ensures you are active as much of the time as possible. Of course, the positive side of this is something that only those who have that kind of mindset will enjoy, so unless you like being busy, nursing is not going to make you happy and that’s certainly something to think about before you begin.
Even if you love being busy and you thrive in a nursing and healthcare environment, it’s still a good idea to have your own happy, quiet space where you can go to relax. You might go there for a few hours or a few minutes – depending on your work and how busy you are – but it’s crucial you go there no matter how much time you have. You can use this space to mediate in, to read a book, to listen to music or a podcast, or anything else you want to do.
Your happy space can be at work or at home, and the choice is yours. As long as the place exists and you can use it to realign yourself and recharge before heading back to work or handling responsibilities at home, you can really make use of it and you can become much happier in your nursing career.
Another way to ensure you are happy in your nursing career is to exercise regularly. When you do this, not only will your body be healthy but so will your mind. When this is the case and you don’t feel overburdened, you’ll be in a much better position to help your patients in the way they need to be helped. That is something that will have the knock-on effect of making you a happy nurse because you know you are doing the best things for your career and people in your care. You know that your work is worthwhile and needed.
Perhaps surprisingly, there is scientific proof that exercise makes you happy. It’s down to hormones. When you exercise, you release hormones into your body, specifically what are known as ‘happy hormones’ called endorphins. These hormones fight against ‘stress hormones’ like cortisol, ensuring that you feel good and get a surge of positivity. After a bad day or when you’re feeling in a low mood, exercise can change your outlook entirely and ensure you have a good day and are as happy as possible.
Keep A Gratitude Journal
No matter how much you might love nursing, it is a very intense job and there will be days when what you witness and have to deal with will truly affect you in a negative way. You might witness suffering and death and perhaps there is nothing you can do to help someone, even though that’s your whole reason for becoming a nurse in the first place. That will be hard to deal with and you might begin to feel like a failure, or at the very least you’ll find that you’re not as happy as you would like to be.
One thing that might help is a gratitude journal. As simple as this may sound, it really can help if you take just a few moments at the end of each day to write down anything that has made you grateful and happy. Bullet points are fine – you don’t have to go into a deep explanation – and if you can only think of one thing, that’s okay too. You can write anything in your journal, from the fact that you heard your favorite song on the way to work to the way you handled a particular patient’s concerns and so on. When you’re having a bad day, you can look back at the good things in your journal and this can boost your happiness levels.
Learn New Things
If you’re feeling unhappy in your work, there will be a reason for it. It might be that you don’t enjoy what you do, in which case it’s wise to start fresh and look for a new career to ensure you are happy. However, if you do enjoy nursing but there are times when you don’t feel happy with what you can achieve, the good news is there is an easy solution; you can learn new things and progress your career.
As you progress in your nursing career, it’s crucial that you continue to learn. You can do this informally through blogs and journals or shadowing other nurses, or you can take steps to improve your knowledge and career by studying for a new qualification, such as an online ABSN or similar. It will depend on where you want your career to go and what you feel you’re lacking in when it comes to your knowledge.
As well as giving you more knowledge and therefore more confidence (which will lead to happiness) in your nursing work, gaining new information and continuing to learn means that you have something to focus on and you keep your brain as active as possible. Combined with other ideas on this list, you can keep yourself as happy as possible in this way.
Talk Things Through
Sometimes it will take more than a gratitude journal to make you happy after something bad has happened at work, and of course when you are a nurse those bad things can be extreme. When this is the case the best thing you can do it talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Keeping your thoughts, feelings and emotions bottled up is not healthy and it won’t make you feel better – it won’t make you happy.
When you talk to someone about how you’re feeling, you can let your feelings out and that is a healthy thing to do. A qualified therapist will be able to help you by giving you the tools you need to deal with your emotions better as you go on in life and through your career, and many nurses find that seeing a therapist on a regular basis is very useful when it comes to allowing them to feel happier at work. However, not everyone wants to see a therapist or feels it is necessary. Yet who should you speak to after a bad day if you’re not keen on seeing an expert? The answer is anyone. Anyone who will listen to you is the perfect person to speak to. You don’t necessarily need advice from them – you don’t even need them to say anything at all. The act of letting your feelings out can be enough, and it might be that through verbalizing your thoughts, you can come up with a solution to make you happy.