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How Are You Feeling Right Now? Challenges and Opportunities

McGrath, Jacqueline M. PhD, RN, FNAP, FAAN; Co-Editor; Brandon, Debra PhD, RN, CCNS, FAAN; Co-Editor

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doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000820
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Dear NANN colleagues,

As we gaze into the future for Advances in Neonatal Care in 2021, we can't help but wonder how you are feeling right now? COVID-19 has changed everything about our world. We, like you, have been doing a bit of reading during this time, trying to understand why and how to manage these new and ever-changing daily events. Some might describe how we are feeling as: “That feeling when you know you can't go backward and yet you don't know what forward looks like.”1 We are all too far into this “new normal” to go back, yet the direction for moving forward also seems ambiguous. Anxiety seems to be sitting ominously in every corner, warning us to keep up our guard, waiting potentially for the next shoe to drop. At the same time, we are not only bored, listless, afraid, uncertain, and ever busy but also seeming to get much less accomplished, even though we are trying to carry on with our jobs, careers, and caring for families and friends. In the beginning of the pandemic, there was a surge of energy to fill the time in lockdown and social distancing with activities. However, as the pandemic has lingered on, the adrenaline surge is dwindling and we find ourselves somewhat unsettled and unable to concentrate in the ways that we have in the past, especially since there is no real end in sight. This is particularly true as what seems beyond the “endpoint” does not appear to be what we envision as “back to normal.”

Others have described this time as a space for reflection, for reconsidering our values, and for possibly choosing a new path that is more aligned with our personal sense of purpose. A time to find our true selves and time to reflect and better understand others. We also believe this is a time to explore new opportunities and challenges, to think outside the box. A time to be confident, clear, and fierce in providing care that protects and gives rise to the best outcomes for infants and families.

Recently, we read a Web-based article on the ancient Greek emotion called Acedia.2 We had not heard that term before; its use has faded with time. The emotion, Acedia, can be described as listlessness such as watching the time come go by but also noticing that it seems to pass so slowly, the minutes seem like hours and hours seem like days—and we also notice the exhaustion that comes with this emotion. For example, that feeling that the shift will never end. Interesting, the definition for this word rose in popularity during medieval times from the solitary lifestyle of monks in a monastery. Hopefully, that visual provides you with the connection to this time of social distancing, limited physical contact (no hugs), and lockdown. While the word Acedia is barely used today, using it could help us legitimize how we are feeling and give us the opportunity to consider how to move on. Even when we are physically together in the unit, it is not like we would prefer. We see each other, but the face mask is the new barrier. There are no hugs or handshakes. We cannot see smiles or friendly facial expressions. Birthdays, retirement celebrations, and other comings and goings in our workplace are virtual events. Social gatherings with our colleagues outside of work are nonexistent, and we hardly see our extended family members who don't live with us.

Learning ways to positively share and express these emotions and frustrations gives us a way to get through this time together. To find new ways to connect. To reach out to each other so we are all together on the other side of this pandemic. We know neonatal nurses are fighters, and we know we can get through this together. We welcome 2021 with you. Be confident, clear, and fierce in your determination to do good. Thank you to our readership and for your submissions to Advances in Neonatal Care.

Jacqueline M. McGrath, PhD, RN, FNAP, FAAN
Co-Editor, Advances in Neonatal Care
[email protected]
Debra Brandon, PhD, RN, CCNS, FAAN
Co-Editor, Advances in Neonatal Care
[email protected]


1. Headlee C. Feel overwhelmed and stressed? It's time for you to track your time. Exploring ideas worth sharing. Published 2020. Accessed September 15, 2020.
2. Zecher J. Acedia: the lost name for the emotion we're all feeling right now. The Conversation. Published 2020. Accessed August 26, 2020.
© 2020 by the National Association of Neonatal Nurses.