AORN Blog - The Periop Life

3 Mental Exercises That Will Bring You Joy

3 Mental Exercises That Will Bring You Joy

January 25, 2018     

Nurses rarely consider their own feelings or how their feelings impact patients, families, and even co-workers, but understanding what you are feeling is critical for our health.

And, it turns out that our feelings are far more transparent than we think, according to Amanda Gore, CEO of The Joy Project and a communications expert who uses neuroscience, epigenetics, emotional intelligence, and positive psychology to help others feel great about themselves, dissolve fear, and build resilience.

“What we feel and the words we use internally about our feelings for ourselves and others are easy to read because we show non-verbal communications unconsciously with our voice, our breathing, and even the color in our face,” Gore explains.

For example, “When you see a coworker who is positive, accountable, and a joy to be around (someone you might describe as scattering joy) you think positive things about that person and it shows in your body language,” she says. “However, when a co-worker who is negative and pessimistic (someone you might see as a joy killer) walks toward you, you are not likely thinking compassion and positivity, more likely you are thinking ‘oh no’ and those thoughts are being transmitted out.”

It’s these non-verbal exchanges that can establish or foster either positive or negative relationships in your workplace. At a deeper level, how you feel about yourself colors everything in your life, including your interactions with co-workers, Gore cautions.

The good news is that we can rewire our brains by consciously choosing to think in a more positive way. To train your thoughts and feelings toward positivity, she suggests these three mental exercises.

1. Observe Your Thinking

Be conscious of your internal narrative about yourself and others. Instead of thinking about what you don’t like, choose one thing you believe is positive about yourself, such as your strength in an aspect of clinical care, and fix your brain on that positive thing throughout the day.

You can also do this when dealing with a negative coworker. Begin the shift by finding one positive thing or aspect about this person—maybe they have a talent with a surgical procedure. Focus on this thought all day and you may be surprised at how differently you perceive them at the end of the shift!

2. Be Present

Work to leave worries of the past and future behind you. Instead, practice focusing on the now. This will reinforce your ability to observe and reinforce your thinking for positivity and gradually weaken old patterns of negative thinking.

3. Be “Wise-Selfish”

The Dalai Lama tells us to be “wise selfish” by recognizing that “our own long-term individual interest lies in the welfare of everyone.” Perioperative nurses are in nursing because they want to help others, but they may forget about themselves in the process. Taking care of yourself gives you more energy to care for others.

Gore will help kick-off our Global Surgical Conference & Expo as the first keynote speaker on March 25 when she shares “7 Ways to Build Resilience and Restore Work-Life Balance.” Register by January 31 to save with early bird pricing.