Jamie Ridout, MBA, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, CNOR, CASC, a perioperative nurse for 28 years who is an administrator at Capital City Surgery Center in Raleigh, NC has turned her studies of loneliness into an area of expertise and addresses the topic to audiences across the country including in an education session today at AORN Expo 2022.
“Loneliness is not about being alone,” explained Ridout. “It’s about feeling alone.”
Ridout’s presentation, Heavy is the Head that Wears the Crown: A Lesson about Loneliness in Leadership, will resonate equally with nurses at the staff level and those in leadership roles, though she believes leaders may struggle with loneliness a bit more. They are very often type A personalities – high-powered leaders who are more used to solving problems than having them. And people can be harder on leaders; there is no one to check in on them so loneliness often comes with the territory.
Her goal is to inspire understanding and break down any perceived stigma that some may associate with feelings of loneliness. There are various types, she says, and it’s important for everyone to realize feelings of loneliness don’t mean weakness, instead, they are a signal that steps can be taken to protect yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically.
She prioritizes figuring out what is depleting your energy and what is giving you energy. Challenges come and go, and lonely feelings may last days, weeks or even months. What’s important is identifying what rejuvenates you and follow that path. “We are so programmed to avoid and numb hard things,” Ridout cautions. “We go to happy hours, movies, and spend too much time on social media. These past times are meaningless and unfulfilling in the long run.”
Instead of numbing or distracting yourself, Ridout suggests finding groups that encourage you to do the difficult work of self-examination and surrounding yourself with people who “get it,” and creating your own personal board of advisors.
While she is quick to say she is not a mental health professional, she is candid about her personal experience as well as the research she has done in the subject. She acknowledges that leadership is full of amazing, wonderful, and fulfilling experiences, but warns her presentation “explores the dark side of leadership.”