5 Ways Nurse Practitioners Can Cheer Up the Workday

Happy Monday! Going back to work after a summertime weekend can be tough. You’re likely find yourself longing to be at the pool or enjoying the great outdoors rather than stuck in a windowless medical office or the hospital. Whether you love or loathe your current position as a nurse practitioner, bad days happen. A combination of stress, overwork and tough cases can leave even the most optimistic NP feeling less than enthused at the end of the day. 

When you’re feeling down in the dumps, it’s difficult to put on a happy face for your patients and maintain a certain level of productivity. What’s worse is that your bad attitude can create a downward spiral that turns one bad day into an entire week of bad days. Your negativity could even begin to wreak havoc on the rest of your coworkers’ morale and affect your personal life. Pulling yourself out of a funk takes initiative. Fortunately, bad days are much simpler to avert than you might think. Take these five initiatives to cheer up your Monday (or Tuesday through Friday…). 

Make Your Workspace Enjoyable

Finding small and creative ways to make your workspace feel more personal (like these 9 ways to make your workspace less depressing) will help you not feel like you’re spending most of your day in a jail cell. And, keeping your space organized will also help you not to feel so flustered and chaotic when you look at all of the overwhelming stacks of paperwork.

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Brighten up your desk with photos of loved ones, colorful notepads holders, or add low maintenance greenery like a small succulent will bring cheer to your day and make the less than fun tasks like charting slightly more enjoyable. And while you’re probably eager to jet out of the office as soon as your last patient is seen (especially on a bad day), make it a habit to straighten up before you leave; organizing any loose papers, throwing away any trash and pushing in your chair. You’ll feel better for it when you walk into your office tomorrow with a clean slate, literally and figuratively.

Have Something to Look Forward to

For many nurse practitioners, the day does not end after your last patient is seen; rather there are still an array of personal tasks to get to like going to the grocery store, picking up the kids from school, cooking dinner, etc. not to mention lingering charts to wrap up. Instead of allowing your responsibilities drag you down, schedule time daily or weekly for fun activities that you enjoy. It can be something as simple as unplugging to spend time playing on the floor with your kids before bedtime, going to the gym after work, enjoying a relaxing bath with a nice glass of wine and good book, or scheduling a weekly dinner date with your spouse. The anticipation of getting to do something that makes you happy on a regular basis will bring you consistent cheerfulness throughout even the toughest of days.

Focus on the Positive

Some theorize that our thoughts have the ability to influence what happens to us, so constantly dwelling on negativity breeds more negativity. When you’re trapped and can’t see past what made your day so awful, make a conscious effort to list and focus on the positive aspects and accomplishments of the day. Perhaps there was an issue with another provider, but you were able to bring a patient much needed relief from an ailment despite it. It doesn’t have to be related to your practice as a nurse practitioner either; it can simply be that you woke up to another day, alive and well, or that you were able to get the kids off to school on time without any meltdowns. The short activity of recalling the positives, even there may have been only one, can give you a feel-good boost and reinforce silver linings, which is very important for your overall psyche.

Get Some Sunshine

Studies have shown that nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to your mental and physical well-being. Use your lunch break to eat outside or take a short mental break by going outside for a 15 minute walk around the neighborhood or hospital grounds. Giving yourself a break outside on a regular basis will give you a genuinely engaging distraction from the stresses of your day, and as a bonus it’s something you can look forward too as well!

Make Someone Else’s Day

Focusing your attention away from yourself and towards brightening up someone else’s day has a positive effect on your happiness as well and spreading cheer has the potential to change everyone’s morale. Thank or compliment somebody who doesn’t expect it from you like the receptionist, the cafeteria staff, an RN or another provider that may be hard to work with. You could also bring your co-workers’ favorite snacks or provide them with lunch to show your appreciation for all they do to make your practice as an NP better. Or, go the extra mile for a patient who isn’t expecting it. The opportunities to make a difference as a nurse practitioner are endless! 

No one promised life would be perfect. “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” -Leo Tolstoy


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