ANA\California Member and media-trained nurse, Lisa DeLong, RN, discusses how registered nurses can advocate for well-being in the workplace to reduce depression, anxiety, loneliness, physical and mental illness, and even suicide.
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Jared Fesler 0:14
Welcome to the Amplified RN News show where we're turning up the volume on nursing news in California. Today, we're going to be diving into the topic of spiritual well-being, what is it? And how does it affect nurses? We're joined today by Lisa DeLong, and an ANA\California member and media-trained nurse. Lisa, thank you so much for joining us today. Would you please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about why you're an expert on this topic?
Lisa DeLong 0:39
Sure, thanks so much for having me. It's an honor. I am a registered nurse now for over 40 years, and I'm also a spiritual practitioner. So I come alongside nurses to help them restore their what I call their energy, because I equate spirituality and energy as the same thing. So it's my great joy, having had brief experiences personal as well as professional and this long period of time of wisdom and learned hard-earned wisdom. So I love being able to share it with nurses.
Jared Fesler 1:15
You know, if you've been following the pandemic, like many of us have, we've seen a lot of reports about nurses mental health. What is the problem here that we're talking about today? And what has happened?
Lisa DeLong 1:29
Well, what's been happening even prior to COVID, back in 2017, the CDC put out a report that nurses were suiciding at a greater rate than ever recorded before. So this actually this, this syndrome, you might call it has actually been happening well before COVID. And so pile that on top of all the grief and losses and stresses put upon nurses during the pandemic, it's simply in the manifestation of what was already the underlying current of the spirit, the well-being the heaviness that, that nurses are feeling directly. And it's really something that we almost never talk about.
Lisa DeLong 2:10
You know, as a grief expert myself, I'm a bereavement facilitator, led grief groups, grief camps, especially in relationship to kids with pediatric cancer, because I've had two sons with leukemia, my first son passed when he was 15, as a result of toxicity because of treatment. And then six years later, my youngest son was diagnosed as well. And he's now he's, well, he's 23 years old. So I've lived both experiences. And with both experiences, I had profound spiritual experiences at the bedside of my voice. And so I have this direct experience of being the caregiver being on both sides of the curtain, you know, I've been the one on the on the, in the bed with my boys. And I've been the one caregiving to other people's children, as a mother, baby nurse for over 15 years in between those different health crises with my kids. And so when I have experiences like, like I've had, and then had, after that, I wrote a book and I became an inspirational speaker to healthcare professionals all over the country, I've spoken to 1000s of nurses all over the United States and Canada, and physicians and whole health care teams as well. And I always include my spiritual experiences, because I know they're having them too. And so we do exercises to share those experiences. And it's always revealing it that we are having these experiences. So my role is to let's bring all this together so that we can support each other through them.
Jared Fesler 3:37
And so you're saying, prior to the pandemic, but especially because of the pandemic, nurses are having spiritual depletion, if you will?
Lisa DeLong 3:49
Exactly. You know, it's one thing to we have gotten very good at our mind, body spirit. Analogies are the idea of Mind Body Care in health care, we've gotten better at mind and taking care of and you're hearing a lot more about mindfulness and mindfulness practices. But that part about spirit that we get a little what is it? You know, where does it come from? And it is, in from my experience, also at the bedside of people taking first breath as a mother, baby nurse, and last breath, seeing that this is an energy, it's a force that comes in it brings us into being and it carries us through our lifetime, and carries us into what's next at last breath. So this energy is in we, as we depleted ourselves, we have to find ways to restore it so that we can stay in this in service to others.
Jared Fesler 4:42
So with a majority of nurses working in hospitals and health systems, here in California, what are they doing to in response to this issue?
Lisa DeLong 4:55
Well, a lot of them are reaching out to people like me, I've been doing one on one sessions with nurses who have been to the on the brink of breakdown, emotional, spiritual, physical breakdown, and you know, the World Health Organization recognizes spirituality as the fourth aspect of well being. And it is, like you said, what is it?
Lisa DeLong 5:15
You know, it's a lot of times people equate spirituality with religion. And sometimes that is where their spiritual support comes from. But spirituality is much a much bigger umbrella. And especially in ancient traditions and ancient paths, and a lot of people are turning to ancient practices, things like herbal medicines, and curanderos are healers that outside of the mainstream health care because of this, and so this awareness is coming up about how, you know, if I'm energetically depleted, because I've given so much of my own lifeforce energy to others, especially nurses that are one, especially in critical care that I've seen, so many people in, in this, in, in this direct patient care service, that they're just depleted, they don't have any more energy left for themselves when they go home, and they go home to families who have children, or they're taking care of their elderly folks, you know, so the way to attend to our spirit would the word attend means to show up, you know, you show up for yourself. And this is part of self care. And from my perspective, it's the most important part of self care, because it's only you can do it. You know, when I was going through grief and dealing with those inner inner spiritual experiences myself, I realized really quickly on that no one could do this for me, I'm the only one who can see what's going on inside of me and feel what's going on inside of me. So my goal is to reach nurses so that they can have the support they need. And do it in a way that's it happens on a regular basis, teach note practices, I call pocket practices, things you can just pull out it out of your pocket literally or figuratively, to help calm your mind, calm your spirit and tune into the lifeforce energy that's here for us all the time.
Jared Fesler 7:10
So it sounds like this might be something new that institutions are looking into as they're trying to uncover and fix this issue of health and well being for their nurses, correct?
Lisa DeLong 7:21
That is correct. I just had lunch with a CEO of a major hospital last week, who was dealing with some serious problem, you know, issues between coming in communication really with his team of nurses in the critical care setting. And it's it this is ongoing, this is all over the world, really, this is what I call global grief. And when you don't attend to it, it will attend to you, you will feel it organ, you know, or the body organism starts to feel emotional. Structures start to fail and also physical like hospital systems communities. There used to be a time when we could sit together in service in circle. And we would have these times we could talk and and how are you? You know, how are you today this someone we love in the village died and those kinds of things. Now we as nurses were expected to tend to one we want one patient dying, and then go to the next and the next on the next. And I know that there are different opportunities being put in place for a lot of hospitals. And they're good, I like it, I heard about a one that's called Tea for the soul where you there's a moment of the the pet the pastoral team serving tea back to the nurses, that kind of thing. But this is what I talk about is something different. It's deeper and profound, and it's to support us and restore our energy is vital.
Jared Fesler 8:46
So Lisa, it sounds a lot like there's much to do here both for nurses and for for health systems. What are you recommending that both of these audiences take as next steps?
Lisa DeLong 9:01
Well, first of all, to check in with yourself and where you're at in your day to day caregiving. If you're self medicating, if you're doing as far as like I heard about a like, I highly recommend retreats, being able to get out of your normal work force and workday and family life too. And getting away into nature, especially that can have you can step into nature, any just about anywhere to help restore your energy. But what I've been hearing about is things like party cruises for nurses that they're you know, they go and they have a good time. It's fun, but it usually involves a lot of alcohol and partying. And when we do that, it just brings us back to the the where we exactly where we were in that really feeling very restored. I'm talking about restorative practices that include breathwork and prayer and walking and purely practical. The pocket practices are practical, and they're part mindfulness is part physical and part stop, but it all starts with self awareness. So that's the beginning is to figure out okay, where am I, spiritually at this time?
Jared Fesler 10:09
Absolutely many practical solutions needed in this day to day. Lisa, it's been an absolute pleasure having you join us. Is there anything else that you would like to share with our audience today?
Lisa DeLong 10:21
I just encourage you to practice your own whatever you whatever you do to attend to your spirit. I'm encouraging you to keep it up. And you are welcome to check me out at thriving leader collaborative where I am the chief spiritual officer. We have many offerings there and we're here to support you.
Jared Fesler 10:42
Well, thank you so much, Lisa, for joining us today. For those tuning in to the Amplified RN News Show it has been a wonderful Nurses Week this week. Tune in for another episode coming up soon. We'll see in the next installment thank you so much.