CNO Roundtable 2021

Coping With Stress

We asked our CNO panelists to share what they’ve done to manage the pressures of the past year. Here are their insights and strategies.

Raye Burkhardt

Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center

Working on my relationship with myself has been the key to coping with stress. Regular exercise, even when I am tired, energizes the body and mind. Reconnecting (via Zoom!) with friends and family also helps me find my balance and reminds me of the important things in life.

Lori Burnell

Valley Presbyterian Hospital

My personal coping mechanisms include:

  1. Retiring to bed an hour earlier than before COVID-19
  2. Consuming regular, light, healthy meals
  3. Drinking lots of alkaline water every day
  4. Running 3 miles on a treadmill six days a week
  5. Opening a window in my office — fresh air with the door closed and the mask off gives a feeling of normalcy
  6. Emailing less and visiting more (while maintaining a 6-foot distance)
  7. Leaving the room for a breather and a prayer when executive team meetings get heated
  8. Fasting from daily news
  9. Watching Disney movies
  10. Reaching out to my husband, friends and family for emotional support when needed.

Karen A. Grimley

UCLA Health & UCLA School of Nursing

One of our infection prevention specialists summed up the most important thing about stress: Don’t worry about what you can or can’t control — focus on where you can make a difference. A few other things that help are lessons I learned as a kid: Be kind; share with others; be honest (especially if you’re not sure); and, as Mr. Rogers used to say, “find a helper.” These practices, good self-care and comfortable shoes make anything possible.

Katie Hughes

Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare

Early in the pandemic, I decided to make some lifestyle changes to limit the impact of the increased stress and sleepless nights: I started eating healthier, worked to improve my sleep habits and increased my activity. Almost nine months later, I can honestly say that despite everything, I am much healthier than I was a year ago! These changes helped me to cope with the added stress of the past year.

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Erin Keefe

Dignity Health – St. Bernardine Medical Center

Work-life balance has not been a possibility, but I try to have some dedicated downtime each day, even if only an hour. I spend a lot of time with my dogs — they help to lift my spirits and are always there to give a good snuggle when I need it. I’ve also made sure to work out regularly. Since the gyms closed early on last year, I created a home gym to keep up with my regular workouts.

Erin Keefe

Dignity Health – St. Bernardine Medical Center

Work-life balance has not been a possibility, but I try to have some dedicated downtime each day, even if only an hour. I spend a lot of time with my dogs — they help to lift my spirits and are always there to give a good snuggle when I need it. I’ve also made sure to work out regularly. Since the gyms closed early on last year, I created a home gym to keep up with my regular workouts.

Evelyn Ku

Alhambra Hospital Medical Center

I continue to exercise three to four times a week, although I have stopped teaching Zumba, which was one of my favorite things to do. Working 12–14 hours a day in the hospital does not allow me to catch up on many things, but I have powered through the darkest times with strong family support.

David Marshall

Cedars-Sinai

One strategy I chose was to learn something fun and unrelated to healthcare, so I signed up for an online improv class. I’ve had a longtime interest in improv, whose essential principles are to listen, agree and work as a team. If you listen well (which is probably the most important skill for a nurse leader!), the next step, in improv terms, is to accept what the other person has to say and then add to it. By doing this and working as a team, you make everyone else look good.

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Deborah McCoy

Methodist Hospital of Southern California

Some things that used to bother me now seem embarrassingly insignificant, and there are some I have literally forgotten. Since my mind tends to work overtime in the best of circumstances, I have learned to channel that into periods of reflection, considering what went well today; what made me feel accomplished or satisfied; what made me uncomfortable; and (more difficult, but telling) how much I contributed to those uncomfortable moments. I consider whether there are positive changes I can make, and I reflect on my attitude. I hold onto those thoughts for a while and take them with me on a long walk, which helps to clear my head.

Melanie Patterson

CHOC Children’s Hospital

I enjoy gardening with my husband, and I have also discovered adult paint-by-numbers activities. As someone who is used to being very active, I am learning how to enjoy a little downtime at home.

Darlene Scafiddi

Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center

To cope with stress, I have turned to prayer — praying for our staff, our patients and the world. I also enjoy yoga regularly, and stay connected with family through Zoom.

Lauren Spilsbury

Redlands Community Hospital

While under stress, it is important to practice self-care. Even though throughout the past year I have wanted to be face-down in a large bowl of mashed potatoes (or other comfort food), I kept to a balanced diet. I couldn’t go to my gym, but I found a wonderful running trail by my home. It is important to exercise regularly, and don’t forget to spend time in self-reflection and positive imagery.

Patricia Vasquez

Adventist Health White Memorial

Some may lose themselves in a hobby, some might find peace and strength through meditation. I have my own haven: I have a patio to which I’ve added plants and birds. I go there to sit, unplug and simply rest. We all need a moment to decompress and pause.

Ron Yolo

Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center

During the past year, I’ve learned to meditate to cope with the daily stress of running a hospital. At nighttime, I think about the lessons of the day and then push the “reset button,” which allows me to refocus and be a better leader the next day. I have also learned to appreciate the simple things in life that bring unexpected joy.


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