The Stillness-Calmness Umbrella: Shade from the Heat of a Shift

In the world of chemistry an increase in temperature ("hotness" or heat) causes stress in a system and changes its equilibrium. Likewise, in the world of professional nursing practice the "heat" of a shift can cause stress to our system and change its equilibrium, affecting the steadiness of our practice and our professional stability. When the heat of a shift is on us we need something to shade us from it. Would you believe – we have an umbrella at hand. 

It's an umbrella of stillness and calmness, which in the heat of a shift it will protect our calmness and composure so that we can continue to practice well. Here's how it looks: 

Where did this umbrella come from? It came from thinking about the meaning of the word calm and how important a sense of calmness is in our practice.

Our English word calm originates from the ancient Greek καῦμα and comes to us through the Latin cauma, words used to describe the stillness required to cope with the heat of the Mediterranean midday sun. By way of analogy the origin of the word calm can ring bells for us because we need to be calm to cope with the heat of a busy shift.

In Careful Nursing we know that in order to have the habit of calmness, even under the most stressful circumstances, we must take some personal time out each day – at least five minutes – to practice a meditative form of stillness. This stillness allows us, naturally over time, to develop a deep-down quality of calmness. This will create for us our very own stillness–calmness umbrella. 

This is an umbrella we can take with us anywhere, but particularly to our professional workplace. If we keep our umbrella in good shape and are sure to have it up when we enter our practice area it will protect us from any heat that comes on us during our shift.

As shown in the illustration above, it will bring many important qualities to our practice. It will protect us from stresses that can lead to burnout. It will protect our capacity to think clearly. It will protect our ability to engage in healing nurse-patient relationships and to relate to one another in sensitive and harmonious ways.

Let's be sure that we each have one of these umbrellas. Let's be sure to keep it in good shape by practicing our meditative form of stillness for at least five minutes each day. Let's be sure to develop the habit of keeping it with us and having it up, especially when we are beginning to feel the heat of a shift.

Therese Meehan 

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