There may not have been any other time in history that healthcare needed self-care so much. Many of you have spent the last 19 months sacrificing in ways that others do not understand and you may be feeling empty and discouraged. At the same time, your email boxes are likely filling up with recommended ways to take care of yourself: take time, relax, destress, unplug, be mindful, get exercise, sleep well, eat healthy… And it really cannot be overstated. We must find ways to take care of ourselves and recharge to reinvigorate our passions. One of the best things about the holiday season is that we have the opportunity to do just that: Recharge through giving.
It seems counterintuitive that we could gain anything from giving or serving. It seems like one more thing on a ‘to-do’ list. However, research supports that volunteering or serving in your community has surprising benefits. One article notes that volunteering can be good for your mind and body (Segal & Robinson, 2020). Volunteering combats the negative effects of stress, anger, and anxiety as a result of helping and working with others and this positively contributes to our overall psychological well-being. Volunteering has also demonstrated an effect of immense pleasure. Researchers have measured hormones and brain activity as a result of volunteering and understand that giving to others is deeply-rooted in our humanity and directly tied to joy.
The opportunities to serve others during the upcoming holiday season are limitless. This month in the Nursing Excellence and Quality council, we heard from Suzie Branton, RN, IBCLC and Susan Trussell, RN, IBCLC, and their involvement in Growing Together, a breastmilk pumping program for incarcerated mothers at Hawkins unit in Wrightsville prison. They have many needs for donations to continue this amazing program to support new mothers in the prison system. Learn more here. Our own Stocked & Reddie Food Pantry is an excellent opportunity to volunteer and also donate items. You can learn more about this opportunity at https://gethealthy.uams.edu/pantry/. We also know that many units/clinics collectively participate in a community service project together, multiplying the power of giving by nurses at UAMS and joy experienced by your work teams. If your unit/clinic participates in community service this holiday season, please email the service project with photos (masks and social distance) to the CenterforNursingExcellence@uams.edu .
When you are reading all the emails about ways you can promote wellness and self-care, consider volunteering and serving others during this holiday season. It might be one of the best ways to restore joy to your soul.
Segal, J. & Robinson, L. (2020, October). Volunteering and its surprising benefits. Well-being & happiness. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/volunteering-and-its-surprising-benefits.htm