Whether your patients are neonates, the elderly or somewhere in the middle, you want to give them the best care you can. While that often means gaining Continuing Education certifications, learning new skills or improving on the ones you have, it also means something much more basic.

In your nursing career, there are probably certain ideas and attitudes that seem important to you. For example, keeping up with emerging research in health care and honing your critical thinking skills will certainly give you the best shot at treating your patients well and providing them with the best possible outcomes. However, there is one lesser known idea that can significantly impact your health care career. You may find that it is even more powerful over the long haul than your knowledge base and skills set are.

Gaining on Gratitude

Gratitude is a key attitude necessary for providing quality health care, staying happy and healthy on the job and creating a smart work/life balance. How can such a seemingly small attitude be so powerful? The answer to this question may sound simple, but living it out in your daily work can be anything but easy.

Finding gratitude in all areas of your life, including your work, will affect:

  • how you think about yourself
  • how you feel about your coworkers
  • how you treat your patients
  • how quickly and effectively you are able to complete your work
  • how well you are able to advance in your position throughout your career

With workplaces becoming increasingly stressful over the years, it is vital to find ways to decrease your stress by controlling how you think and feel about work.

Initially, gratitude may seem like a soft skill and may appear to be nothing more than an emotion that makes you feel warm and satisfied within your heart and mind. However, research has shown that this attitude actually affects you far more deeply.

Positive attitudes can impact your brain chemistry by increasing the feel-good hormones of dopamine and serotonin. Not only do these chemicals make you feel good inside, but also they can start a positive cycle focusing on motivation. Over time, you may find that it will be easier to focus on the positive side of things rather than immediately seeing only the negative.

Now that you know how important gratitude on the job is, you may wonder how you can incorporate this attitude into your nursing career. Research into how the brain and its chemicals work together shows that positive and lasting changes can be made in the brain’s circuitry with only six regular, daily episodes of gratitude practice lasting at least 30 seconds each. Clearly, if you are struggling on the job and are feeling intense stress or burnout, investing three minutes every day into making changes in your thinking is an easy option.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to take note of the positive parts of your day and to feel gratitude for them is to keep a gratitude journal. Whether you use a specially designed gratitude journal or simply take notes on the margin of your calendar or on a piece of notebook paper, writing down a list of three to five things that you are grateful for every day can help you change your mindset to notice the positive things in life.

Some other gratitude-building options include verbalizing who you are thankful for in your life. You can send thank you notes to those people who have most impacted you or spend some quiet time every day to meditate on what is most important to you.

If you found this article helpful, take a moment to look over the Nurses Corner – a new initiative to help nurses and other medical personal be the best caretakers they can be, by taking care of themselves.