Posted in Careers, Health and Well-Being, Self-Discovery, Stress Relief

The Healing Powers of Having a Life

Yesterday, I had a quiet hour at the office which I used to reflect on what the past month has been like: what’s gone well, what could have gone better and what lessons I’ve learned from the curveballs that life has thrown my way.

As many of my loyal readers know, I have a love-hate relationship with my work, in the sense that sometimes I may love it a little too much that I invest too much of myself in it, and when things go wrong it affects me on an almost unhealthy level.

I went through a period where I was so stressed because I got this stupid notion of taking on the problems of an entire department on my unfit could-use-a-workout shoulders. Looking back, I think this was the reason why I was picking fights with my colleagues, magnifying the slightest of slights and why I was unable to shake off even the most minor of incidents. I have (and probably always will be) a dweller, but the way I dwelled on work-related stressors in October was ridiculous, even for me.

So what changed in November?

Simple. I made the conscious decision to actually have a life outside of work. For example, my blogging activities increased tenfold from where it was in October to where it is now.

More importantly, I began to see purpose in what I was doing. What started out as just another social media platform for me to maintain became a tool in which I could reach, for example, book lovers like myself. I’ve actually been asked to do book reviews for external websites and last week I just got my first paid editorial book review order. Not bad for someone whose first language isn’t English.

I’ve tried to socialise more, keep in touch and reconnect with friends I haven’t seen in a while and also to keep trying even when I’ve had a series of really bad dates. I haven’t found the time to visit the gym because of my schedule, but I’ve tried to workout at home at least three times a week, and to develop a healthier relationship with food. My Fatness Fitness Pal is quite happy with my daily calorie log for November which is always a good indicator for my stress levels because when I’m stressed, boy, I eat.

But the main difference is that I’ve also developed a healthy detachment from work. I don’t mean to say that I’ve disengaged with it, more like I’ve learned to let go of the things that I can’t control and to focus more on the things that are within my capacity to change.

And because I’ve actually developed a life outside of work, its easier for me to switch off work mode once I’ve left the building. And when things aren’t quite going the way I want to, I at least know that I have something else to look forward to when I get home.

I’ve always preached about having a healthy-work life balance but I’ve never been able to manage walking the walk rather than just talking the talk. But if I’ve learned anything from these past couple of months, its that you’ll be able to love your work more if you keep it at a distance, and most importantly, if you keep it separate from your personal life (and personal relationships!).

I am fortunate enough to love my job, both aspects of it – education and orthopaedics. But. I need a life outside of it, and what I badly needed this month is to re-connect with myself as a person. I don’t want my whole life to be about what I do at work. Who am I when I’m not a practice educator or an orthopaedic scrub nurse?

I am so much more than just those two things. I have varied interests and I am capable of a lot of other things. There are other things that make me truly happy apart from getting recognition at work. And in the end, success at work means nothing if you are utterly and truly miserable the whole time. As one of my students like to say, success without happiness is the worst kind of failure.

So I’ve made this lengthy entry when what I actually meant to say can be summed up in three words (two three-word phrases in fact): shake it off. Get a life. You’ll be a much better person for it.

Posted in Health and Well-Being, Stress Relief

A reminder to BREATHE

These past two months have been incredibly weird for me. I’ve felt myself getting pulled into so many directions. I want to do so many things and I have the opportunity to do so many things but I can’t seem to committ to one. I have finally come to the conclusion that I don’t really know what I want and the only thing I should do until I figure that out is BREATHE.

Earlier I was working with a female surgeon and a female anaesthetist and they were talking about letting go and seceding control. As someone who has always been solidly Type A, the concept of not being in control is entirely foreign to me. I cannot imagine not having a plan for my life. But as my anaesthetist said, suffering equals pain times resistance and the more you try to control things the more frustrated you get when things inevitably don’t always go your way.

I honestly feel that in constantly thinking about the things I’ve yet to achieve, I’ve lost sight of the things that I HAVE achieved. I think I’m starting to see that its not always about getting to the next step. I am constantly at war with the part of me that’s ambitious and wants to get things done NOW. I need to nurture the part of me that just wants to live and be happy and content. 

My friend recently posted a quote that said ‘Gratitude turns what we have into ENOUGH’. I think I really need this weekend to refocus on the things that really matter. Like my health, and my family and my true friends. I’ve been thinking it over and I think I try to be so many things to so many people that I’ve lost sight of who I am when its just me. 

I think I just need a long holiday really. Get away from it all and recharge. I’m looking forward to going home and seeing my parents in January. It’ll give me a chance to think, regroup and plan for the future when I’m not doing the daily grind of living in London.

Thank goodness I have blogging to keep me sane. 

Posted in Health and Well-Being, Lifestyle

The Bare Necessities and how I realised that Health IS Wealth

A colleague of mine recently had to miss work for a week because he was extremely unwell. He works so hard: he shows up for work an hour before we’re meant to be there to make sure he’s ready for the day; when you’re working with him, you always know you’re safe because he has so much experience and you know that he knows what he’s doing; he has the highest standards and does not suffer fools (or laziness); he’s at work so much that people joke that he should change his post code to our place of employment.

It made me think about our motivations and what drives us to work as hard as we do. For him, he does it to support his family. He’s recently realised his dream of bringing his entire family to the UK, to provide his children with all the opportunities that would have otherwise been unavailable to them had they stayed in the Philippines. That cost a lot of money, and in his own words, they’re currently broke but they’re all broke together. 

For a lot of people, money is the biggest motivator. Let’s face it, love may make the world go round but you need cash to grease the wheels. Its kinda difficult to keep mushy feelings going if your roof is leaking because you have no money for repairs, or if you’re living off bread and beans every day.

I know a lot of people who work at least 60 hours a week just to earn extra money. Heck, I’ve done it and I often don’t recognise myself at the end of a 60-hour work week. I think we never stop to think about the impact it has on us when we work as hard as we do. We are not machines; in fact, even machines have down-time. There are times when we – human beings – DON’T. And in a stressful environment like nursing, that can have serious consequences.

Work is physically demanding, no doubt about that. I am on my feet 80% of the time, even when I’m supposed to be doing admin work. By necessity – because of the nature of our job – our brain goes into overdrive most of the time. In addition, you give so much of yourself to care for your patients and to work harmoniously with your colleagues that the work also becomes an emotional drain. Now imagine experiencing that for 60 hours per week. Is it any wonder that people get sick?

I think we need to take better care of ourselves. I think we all need to remember that money and career are no substitutes for physical, mental and emotional well-being. I guess its one of the hazards of the world that we live in. We’ve become too enamored of material things that we’ve forgotten the bare necessities (the simple bare necessities, forget about your worries and your strife), such as health and simple freakin’ joy. Do you really need the latest iPhone X and is it worth forking over almost a thousand pounds? Do you need that Burberry trench coat so badly that you’ll run yourself ragged to buy it? Do you really need to be trying London’s trendiest restaurant every Friday night? 

I guess I’m writing this blog as a reminder to myself. My favourite sushi place sells a box called Health and Happiness and I think I’m coming to realise that health IS happiness and like happiness, its a choice that you have to make every day. Don’t be blinded by the bling, or the craving to buy a Prada bag you don’t actually need, or the zeroes you want to see in your bank account. All of that means nothing if you’re bedridden for a month because you’ve worked yourself to the bone. Health is happiness and health is wealth. Let’s do ourselves a favour and take care of ourselves more than we take care of our bank account.