From the moment I started working as a nurse, I pushed myself to the point of exhaustion every single day. It felt good to be that exhausted (or so I thought), which I justified, by thinking I was doing work I loved, and it filled me up, so it was okay. But at the time I wasn't aware of the toll it would eventually take on me.
After a while, I realized that I was not taking care of myself; I was not honoring my body and practicing self-care. The body can only take so much. It requires balance and harmony and respect, all of which I was not providing it. I started to get headaches, I wasn't sleeping well, and I found that I was becoming impatient and irritable. None of these behaviors play nicely with working in hospice, or any work environment for that matter.
I found that too much of one thing can actually create stress, and cause havoc and chaos, messing with your balance and creating disconnect. There is a reason why people say things like, "everything in moderation is the secret." It shouldn't be a secret though... it should be our motto, and our creed to live by. And I mean this for all humans, regardless of the work you do. But in my case, working in healthcare, I see this all the time... we push ourselves to the point of exhaustion, and that will backfire on us eventually. I am a good example of that.
Once I realized, or rather owned, the fact that I was causing my own discomfort, everything else seemed to fall into place when I started to make changes. I learned the importance of rest and play, and that adding these into my work routine, balanced me out, and helped me to find a sense of calm that I was lacking. I took time off, I turned off my phone and I stopped saying "no" to invitations to have fun. And boy did that feel good.
I will be honest though and tell you that the struggle for me was not changing my life and finding balance, the challenge was accepting that everything will still continue on whether I am on or off the clock. That was humbling, but a lesson I needed to learn.
So, I made a promise to myself that I would find balance between work and life, and for my future patients, I made a promise that I will give them the very best of me, just not all of me.
"When you have balance in your life, work becomes an entirely different experience. There is a passion that moves you to a whole new level of fulfillment and gratitude, and that's when you can do your best... for yourself and for others."
Finding balance is the only way you can truly do your best for yourself, and for others. It is the only way to refuel so that you can give 100% to those that need you. But more than that, you owe it to yourself to take time out to embrace the day, to spend time with people you love, to have a life and to live your life fully while you still can.
The work I do is important, but I don't do it alone, so pushing myself so hard I break, doesn't do anyone any good, certainly not the team of people that are counting on me to be there for their patients and families when they take time out for themselves.
Find the balance between work and play, and life and family, and friends. Make time for you to breathe and rest. I have found that I am far less stressed, I sleep better, I am less cranky, and I have more energy to provide the compassionate care I give to our patients and their families and that is what matters the most to me.
Photo credit: My friend Andy King takes such incredible photos and graciously shares them with me for my blogs.