Remembering the value of connectedness and solicitude: A call to action for our own health and well-being as psychiatric nurses

      Every Sunday morning, I call my best friend on the west coast. She sets her alarm so that it coincides with a morning time for me on the east coast. Coffee? is the prompt that we use to confirm the time via text that we set aside to talk, laugh and/or help each other find our way back to our “center”, that place that reminds us of who we are and who we are meant to be in this world, at this time. A conscious reckoning of the previous week of chaos and loss is followed by resolve to be the best that we can be under the calamities that pervade our world is the underlying principle of our “talks”. Where it once took place in a coffee shop, a series of life transitions shifted it to the telephone or sometimes, teleconferencing. The coffee time is a deliberate act of connectedness and reflection that I have come to value through the pandemic and yet something that many have forgotten to embrace when people move away or when we get caught up in our own lives, be it children, partners, work and yes, more work. Personal reflection is essential to balancing our mental health and well-being. Some call it: “self-care”, others: “work/life balance” and sadly, some do not have a term in their vocabulary because they may not have a choice or the tenacity to be connected to something bigger than themselves. As time passes, though, our bodies harbor the scars of not taking care of ourselves and our bodies never forget what the mind buries or tries to ignore. Connectedness is defined as a feeling of belonging to or having affinity with a particular person or group (
      • Oxford Dictionary
      ). It is this simple act that I challenge you to consider and embrace as many in our specialty and discipline are walking away or retiring from their positions in healthcare, scarred by the pandemic, horizontal violence (bullying), disrespect and divisiveness that has settled over our lives and our profession. How can we take care of others if we do not take care of ourselves? What systems have contributed to this disconnect? How can we act to change this travesty that has become business as usual? I propose a call-to-action to understanding and to deliberatively act to find our center, our true north, or raisons d'etre using the compass inside of ourselves. The action is to find a sense of connectedness and solicitude for our own health and wellbeing in 2022 and beyond.
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