By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Flower Bowl, Spa / Badruddeen, via Flickr

A tweet from the UK’s Nursing Times recently caught my eye. It was directing Twitter followers to a post on its Web site, asking what “well-being” meant to them. The post discusses the work life vs. home life seesaw and whether readers’ chosen careers leave them time to enjoy other aspects of life. There’s actually a national well-being debate in the UK, where the Office for National Statistics is seeking public input in developing new measures of national well-being.

We measure well-being here in the U.S. too, with the CDC’s measures of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) index. While noting that “there is no consensus around a general definition of well-being,” the CDC sketches the concept of well-being in the following way:

“. . . at minimum, well-being includes the presence of positive emotions and moods (e.g., contentment, happiness), the absence of negative emotions (e.g., depression, anxiety), satisfaction with life, fulfillment and positive functioning. In simple terms, well-being can be described as judging life positively and feeling good. . . . physical well-being (e.g., feeling very healthy and full of energy) is also viewed as critical to overall well-being.”

Most people I know say they’re working harder than they ever did before. I see single parents and don’t know how they work full-time, deal with childrens’ schedules and needs, and make time for themselves. (I guess mostly they don’t—especially the part about making time for themselves.) I know many people who’ve taken on additional jobs—they teach but now also work per diem, or they work full-time in one setting and pick up weekend shifts elsewhere.

I’m sure patients feel the pressures, as we rush in and out of rooms, checking bar codes and IV pumps, and then whisking away to do it again in another room. Or what about in home health care, where visiting nurses don’t have time to “visit,” or even in psychiatry, which has morphed into a “get-em-in, get-em-out” assembly line. (See this recent post re. the demise of talk therapy.)  I hear from nurses who say that we’ve cut costs as much as we can—there’s no “doing more with less”; we’re doing less with less, and not doing it well. This discourages many nurses and can lead to burnout.

So I wonder: Do most nurses have a sense of well-being? Do you?

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