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.