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 london, Music, Stress Relief

I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier….my top 10 favourite Killers songs.

I opened the mail a couple of days ago and found my concert tickets for the Barclaycard British Summer Time concert at Hyde Park on the 8th of July, headlined by my favourite band in the world, The Killers!!!

Ok, so I’m a little late hitching my star to this particular bandwagon (maybe a decade late, in fact), and some may argue that The Killers reached their peak with Sam’s Town and that no song they’ve ever released has ever come close to the gloriousness of Mr. Brightside.

I SOOOOOOOO BEG TO DISAGREE.

Of course, I’ve heard of Mr. Brightside, I mean what self-respecting nearly-30, One-Tree-Hill-and-The-OC-watching female didn’t? It was the soundtrack to a lot of angsty YA TV series back in the days when Chad Michael Murray was a big deal. However, it was only when I moved to the UK that my love for The Killers was cemented. One of my favourite surgeons has the entire Killers back catalog on his iPod and would often play them while operating. Its how we celebrate finishing a heavy and tiring Thursday list. ย When I really listened to the lyrics of ‘Read My Mind’, I loved it so much I played it on repeat one Sunday, much to my flatmates’ annoyance. Needless to say, they now know how to sing the song’s very catchy chorus.

So in celebration of the upcoming Killers concert, I’ve decided to do a list of my top 10 favourite Killers songs ever. Most of the songs on this list won’t come as a surprise to any fan, but I’ve always loved reading about why fellow music lovers enjoy particular songs because we all love them for different reasons. So…enjoy, fellow victims!

(***disclaimer: major fan-girling ahead!)

10. Just Another Girl

This one is a lesser known track from their Direct Hits album. My sister actually introduced me to it when she was learning their songs so that she’d be able to sing along during the concert. At the time, I thought I already knew all of their songs but apparently I missed this one. There’s nothing special about it, I just really like the beat. And the video featuring Diana Agron.

Favourite line: “All of my friends say I should move on, she’s just another girl: don’t let it stick into your heart so hard.”

 

9. Spaceman

My friend from college, Cyril, introduced me to this one. I still remember singing along to this when we were revising for the Philippine National Licensure Exam, affectionately (or not so affectionately) called the Boards. At a time when I was so nervous of failing one of THE biggest exams of my life, this helped relaxed me and I’ve associated it with good memories ever since.

I don’t really get the lyrics. But its catchy and amazing in a weird kind of way.

 

8. Somebody Told Me

“Somebody told me that you’ve got a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend that I had in February of last year…”

I’ve listened to this song a million times and I still don’t understand if Brandon was implying the boyfriend was feminine looking, or if the girl he currently fancies in a relationship with his ex-girlfriend. Either way, its one of the catchiest lyrics I’ve ever hear in my life.

 

7. Smile Like You Mean It

I just love the strings on this one. And because of this live performance; the violins make me want to weep.

 

6. A Dustland Fairytale

“…and the decades disappear like sinking ships but we persevere. God gives us hope but we still fear what we don’t know.”

 

5. This Is Your Life

“…the sky is full of dreams, but you don’t know how to fly. I don’t have a simple answer, but I know that I can answer: something better. Wait for it.”

So whenever I feel like settling for the mediocre in any and all aspects of my life, I listen to this song and I’m reminded that there is wisdom in waiting. ๐Ÿ™‚ And also, I am in love with the crowd in this performance:

 

4. Human

“..and sometimes I get nervous when I see an open door. Close your eyes, clear your heart. Cut the cord.”

Ah, one of life’s deepest questions: Are we human or are we indeed dancer? On the 8th of July, I most definitely AM dancer.

And really, I can’t decide whether I love the upbeat version or this really solemn piano version. In fact, I refuse to choose! I love them both.

 

3. All These Things That I’ve Done

The lyrics are weird, they may not even make sense, but damn if this isn’t one of the best songs ever written. Sing with me everybody: I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier….

 

2. Mr. Brightside

To illustrate just how big this song is, ladies and gentlemen, I present: The Memes.ย 

I defy anyone to listen to this song and NOT sing along. At the work christmas party last year, my feet were literally dead and I’ve already had far too much wine that I was sat in my chair with my legs propped on another chair. Then this song came on and I was like, bitch let’s go. :p

 

and the winner…

 

Read My Mind

There are no words for how much I love this song. When I’m in a bad mood, I listen to, write about and post this song on social media. There is something about these lines that really speak to me:

“So I don’t mind if you don’t mind, cause I don’t shine if you don’t shine…”

Seriously, the entire song has lines that are instagram-caption-worthy. I love love love this song. If they don’t play it on the 8th of July, I will DEMAND ย a refund. Thankfully, I know for a fact that its always on their setlist. ๐Ÿ™‚

Brandon Flowers says this is his favourite song, and that its special, and that they can feel it overtime they play it on gigs. I know exactly what he’s talking about.

 

And of course, a very special shout-out to my song.

Sam’s Town – this transcends list. Like this song cannot be placed on any list because it. is. amazing. ๐Ÿ™‚

Posted in Feminism, fitness, Lifestyle, london, Stress Relief

This Girl Can

After work today, I went to my muay thai training session at London Fight Factory. I’ve been going to that gym on and off for about 3 years now. At one point when I was experiencing probably the lowest point of my life, I think it probably saved me from giving up or going insane. My friend Aaron first introduced me to it. At the time, I was significantly less confident about my physical abilities. I thought I’d better stick to what I knew best (Zumba) and save myself the embarassment. But he was so passionate about it that I decided to give it a go. And while I may not have been as consistent about it as I would have liked, it has remained one of the most enduring parts of my fitness routine.

It just makes me think about how quick we are to judge ourselves and say ‘I could never do that’. When did we develop this mindset that there are things beyond our reach? When we were kids, we used to be dreamers. We used to believe in magic and in the impossible. More importantly, we used to believe in ourselves. I sometimes envy the innocence (and blissful ignorance) of children. They haven’t yet learned to put themselves in a box nor to place limitations in their abilities. They still believe they can be the next prime minister or president, or be an actress, a ballerina or martial arts fighter. Check out these kids doing warm up for a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training today at LFF.ย IMG_5476

This stopped me in my tracks first of all because it was so darn cute, but also because it just inspired me. I mean, not all of these kids will be fighters. Some of them are probably going to be awkward executing all those moves. But they will always remember the fact that they tried, and they had fun with it. I will think about this the next time I need inspiration. Because you know what? The fact that I’m out there and trying already makes me better than half the population who are spending the afternoon watching the telly.

 

There were a lot of adverts on the tube and other places a couple of years ago celebrating the active woman called This Girl Can, and it really stuck with me. This one in particular:

TGClap

Sometimes I forget that the only limitations I have are the ones I place on myself. If I want something and I work hard enough for it, there is nothing I can’t achieve. This girl can. And if I can’t just yet, I will never stop trying.

So here’s my own rough muay thai training session. Cheers, blabbaholics. x

Posted in Careers, Lifestyle, Stress Relief

10 Ways to Avoid Work-related Stress

Ordinarily, after a long and tiring day at work I would go home, feel frustrated and maybe post some deliberately vague status on Facebook about not letting the world get me down or shaking it off or something equally cliche. Now, I want to channel all that into a positive mental activity by making a list about how I can avoid work-related stress. I’ll post it on my blog so that I can remind myself of it the next time I have days like these and maybe help others out when they too have need of such a list. So, here’s some of the things that I compiled in my head as I was walking (tired and hungry, I might add) home from work:

 

 

A place for everything and everything in it’s place

I tend to dwell on things that have frustrated me throughout the day. ย I have to learn to JUST. BLOODY. LET. GO. Yes, I can air out my frustrations, but I shouldn’t really be bringing ย them home with me. Leave work at work. Furthermore, I need to remember that every day is a chance for a brand new start, a chance to change things if I really feel like there’s something that needs to be improved. I shouldn’t go on and on and on about something that happened last week; that way lies madness, and its very unproductive. Like I always say, if people were more proactive and less reactive, we would have more doers than whiners.

Have some perspective

I always thought that if we walked a mile in one another’s shoes we would be rushing to go back to our own. It’s easy to be caught up in another person’s weakness, or complain about someone not doing his or her job, or maybe complain that someone on the top of the food chain has forgotten what it’s like to be on the bottom. HOWEVER. I am of the opinion that we all could be a little more understanding of one another. Colleagues especially should learn that just because someone isn’t doing something the way you would do doesn’t mean they’re not trying their best. We should also remember that other people are facing pressures that we know nothing about. Managers don’t always know what its like to be on the shop floor working your ass off, whereas people on the shop floor don’t always know the sometimes near-desperate measures that managers have to resort to to keep things afloat. So have some perspective and put yourself in the other person’s place before you react.

Do not speak up when you’re angry

This is something my boss taught me. If the situation has escalated to a point where you are too involved and too emotional, chances are you will say things you might later regret. So if you’re feeling particularly upset (and the situation isn’t an emergency or something) walk away and come back when you’re calmer. You’ll find that you’ve gained just a little bit more clarity and perspective in the 5 minutes that you took to cool off. If you speak everything that’s on your mind in the heat of the moment, you’ll probably get instant satisfaction, but at the expense of your relationship with the other people involved in the scenario, and that will just lead to more stress. However, if you do speak up…

Stand your ground

I can be something of a pushover. I really should learn to say no, or to stop being such a people-pleaser. If there’s something I believe in, or something I see that I know isn’t right, I should speak up. If I’ve stated my opinion or position about something, I should learn not to waiver at the first sign of dissent, especially if I know I’m right.

Do not take on the problems of the world

Take responsibility only for the things that you are responsible for. I have this tendency to want to solve all the problems at work, and while that’s a noble aspiration its also a naive one. The problems of your workplace are bigger than you, you can only do so much to contribute a solution. At the end of the day, its enough that you’ve done your best. My boss tells me that when things aren’t going right, my default thinking shouldn’t be “what did I do wrong?” or “what did I fail to do?”. Instead, I should make a mental checklist of the things that I DID do, and yeah, maybe other things might have been missed but the important thing is that you tried.

Trust, develop and work with other people

I really dislike working with people who have a superhero complex. It’s like they think they’re the only ones who can save the day. Sometimes they make others look bad just so they can swoop in with a solution and make themselves look good. I think that’s wrong, and I don’t think that reflects very good teamwork. I think that if everyone on the team does well, it reflects on the whole team.ย tumblr_n08tzinXa41qei2wfo1_500-6907

I also think that if you constantly put yourself in the position of knowing all the answers, you put so much pressure on yourself. Whereas if you take the time to teach and develop other people, not only will you have helped someone else out, you’ve also helped yourself because the next time there’s a problem, there’s someone else you can rely on.

Eat Well

I have to put this on the list simply because I know for a fact that I am not a nice person when I’m hungry, have skipped a meal or have not eaten way past 8pm for dinner. I know people in general tend to not be at their best when their blood sugar is running low, but man, I have had moments when I was really stressed and hungry that I am ashamed of. I have been known to bite my friends’ heads off; I become impatient and maybe just a little unreasonable. So this is really a priority for me. ย Having said that, next on this list is…

Find a better way to relieve stress that has nothing to do with food

I am a stress-eater. I am not proud of it, but I am. When I’ve had a particularly stressful day, I order Chinese food and just binge-eat dumplings while watching Netflix. I wanted to cry when my workplace took out KitKat bars from our vending machines because they went on a health kick, because sometimes those KitKat bars are the only standing between me and the loony bin. Anyway, I need to rewire my brain and somehow not connect food with comfort. I am now on a mission to STOP turning to food when I’m stressed.

Music soothes the angry beast

There is no problem at work that can’t be made just a little bit more bearable by Taylor Swift. Or any music really. When I got home today, while waiting for my Japanese takeaway, I logged on to Netflix and watched Pitch Perfect 2 and just sang along to the songs. Go to Spotify and you’ll find plenty of playlist to boost your mood. I myself have a few guilty pleasures playlist that I listen to when I need a quick pick-me-up, it may or may not include MmmBop. :p

Find that work-life balance

This is probably the most important. I went through a phase where I was spending probably 50 hours a week at work and at the end of two such weeks, I felt like I barely knew myself. I had the sudden realisation last week that I’ve let a lot of my hobbies and passions go because I was too caught up with work; I’d stopped trying new things and pushing myself to do something I’ve always been afraid of because I was too busy training the next big thing in orthopaedics (insert eyeroll here). I made a promise to myself long ago to never become the kind of person who is defined only by her work. So that’s why I’ve decided to go back to blogging, to running, to working out and finding other things to be interested in. I am more than a nurse, more than an educator, I am a well-rounded (sometimes literally well-rounded) person with lots of other interests.

What are your suggestions for relieving stress? I’m sure there’s a lot of other ways out there that work for other people and I would love to hear your thoughts. Cheers, blabbaholics!