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Profiles & Features April 15, 2020

By Debra Wood, RN, contributor

Words of Encouragement for Nurses: An Interview with Donna Cardillo

Nurses across the world are risking their lives to care for patients with the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19. It’s hard work that can be physically, mentally and emotionally taxing. But they’re not alone. 

Fellow nurse, Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, CSP, FAAN, a.k.a. The Inspiration Nurse, is offering some words of encouragement that aim to help nurses power through, remain calm and focus on the positive. 

“I want all nurses on the front line to know the entire nursing community in the world is behind them with love and gratitude,” said Cardillo, a sought-after motivational speaker and author. “We are cheering them on.”

Cardillo has written a number of books to help nurses navigate through their careers while caring for themselves, and her latest, Falling Together: How to Find Balance, Joy, and Meaningful Change When Your Life Seems to be Falling Apart, reaches an even wider audience.  

For these unprecedented times, Cardillo offers nurses a number of encouragements and suggestions:

We see your sacrifices. When working so hard and in isolation, nurses and others often wonder if people are aware of our plight. Military nurses during wars often questioned if anyone knew what they were doing. Now, they are battling a lethal virus. 

“We are sending love and support,” Cardillo said. “Nurse leaders and colleagues are out there sharing their outstanding work and sacrifices, including putting themselves and their families at risk, with other people on social media and [talking] to the media and politicians.” 

Some nurses are renting apartments and motel rooms to avoid bringing the virus home to their family members. They are making tremendous sacrifices, she said. 

This crisis will end. “This crisis, although protracted, is temporary, and it will come to an end,” Cardillo said. “There will be lessons learned to carry with us, to make things better next time.”

You are making a difference. Cardillo emphasized, “We are health care professionals and experts. Our skills, knowledge, innovation, compassion and leadership have never been needed more.”

Follow Donna Cardillo on Twitter for daily affirmations

You can do this. Nurses are positioned to manage, treat and bring the crisis under control. Cardillo relayed a quote from Joan of Arc, which holds true for today’s nurses. It is “I am not afraid…I was born to do this.” 

Staying positively focused remains important during times of trouble and challenge, Cardillo said. One way to do that is to use daily positive affirmations, such as saying, “I can do this,” “I am strong and powerful.” Take it one patient at a time. 

Practice self-affirmations. “This does not mean we are all powerful, that’s not it at all,” Cardillo related. “These are things to help us push through this crisis. Minute to minute sometimes. Words have power, and they can give us the extra push we need.”

Several books and card decks, including from Cardillo, offer daily affirmations.  

Cardillo recommends an affirmation from the meditation community: “I am safe, I am well, I am at peace.” Nurses can repeat that over and over, any time day or night.

“We do not need to believe the words we say, but we have to say them or think them,” Cardillo said. “They have the power to shift our energy and focus.”

Stay in the present. Another suggestion she had was for nurses to stay in the present moment and engage in what one is doing. It’s more manageable than thinking about the entirety of the pandemic, how it will end and how to get through this. 

Focus on gratitude, Cardillo suggested. That many be thankfulness for a coworker’s assistance or one’s ability to alleviate suffering. Be thankful for small things, something as simple as a car starting in the morning. 

Support each other, and ask for help. Through this crisis, Cardillo said, it is important “to help and support each other. Everybody is overwhelmed and stressed, but we need to seek and accept help.” Nurses also should look for ways to help and support fellow nurses.

“Different people are more stressed out on different days or more overwhelmed on different days,” she said. “Reaching out a hand or heart to help, provides meaning for us in the midst of all of the carnage and chaos. When you bring light into someone else’s life, we inadvertently bring light into our life.” 

Record your thoughts. Journaling and expressing thoughts and feelings on paper or a computer can help nurses let go and unleash feelings and to remember being in the midst of this when no longer in it.

“This is an unprecedented situation we are living and working through,” she said. “It’s something we will not see often, hopefully. … It’s worth recording what is happening from your perspective and a good way to let it go. You cannot internalize it.”

Plan something fun for when it’s over. Cardillo recommends nurses plan something fun to do to when the pandemic ends. It may be a trip, spending the day in a city, going to a museum, returning to school for a higher degree or moving. 

“Give yourself something to look forward to,” Cardillo said. “That is often what pulls us through the tough times.”

Resilience can help nurses come through difficult times without letting them drain or destroy us, she said. “You can do this.”

Visit Donna Cardillo’s website for more inspiration, or connect on Twitter for daily affirmations.

 

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