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The Importance of Balance

Nurses Stress 101 Article Video   posted

Specializes in Med/Surg, Onc., Palliative/Hospice, CPU.

I spent my winter in hibernation mode. After another couple of weeks rolled by, I realized something… A mundane approach with complacency in caring for me is absolutely unacceptable. As nurses, why do we spend so much time and energy caring for others and totally side-step and even ignore the big U-S? If you’ve ever felt disconnected, I am sure you can relate to the importance of balance.

The Importance of Balance
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I woke up. Not only did I wake up. I woke up MAD. Funny thing was, I had no reason for it. I hadn't fought zombies the night before in my dreams and ended up on "team dead". So what was the point? As I jumped into the shower and hustled through the motions of my work morning, reality hit me like a slap in the face. The slap showed it's ugly face in the form of a grumbling stomach as I was forcing coffee down my throat and stomping through the house in a darkened silence. This wasn't me.

That day at work was painful beyond measure. I had nothing to give to my co-workers or my patients. My head was reeling with irritation doing kickflips in the back of my consciousness. Sound made me feel on edge, the call bells made me want to scream and patients requesting small things (all of which were beyond reasonable, mind you) irked me to a degree that I didn't quite understand. Looking in the mirror all I could see were lines of frustration in my face that looked ugly and stand-offish. I literally was winning the jerk award that day. Everything hit me and I felt cold as stone. Dramatic sounding, I know. But seriously, everything I felt was reflecting on my outside. And it wasn't pretty.

When I got home I just flopped onto the couch in a pathetic display that rivaled the tantrum of a toddler (or so it felt). WHAT WAS MY PROBLEM?!?!?! Then again, just like that morning, the sack of potatoes, the piano, the 1,000 tons of manure landed on my head with a resounding thud. I couldn't remember the last time I had done anything for me. I would go to work and fight heart and soul for my patients because that's what I did. Upon returning home, I would just dial back to the lack-luster and walk around without any commitment to living my life for me.

The next morning I was off from work. I got up and opened the windows to let in the natural light. I stayed there for a few minutes looking out at the bright orange and yellow sky, taking stock of what I felt like I was missing. I was missing out on friends, artistic endeavors, dancing, singing, running, and exercise. It was as if I was doing just enough to get by. This is a dangerous cycle to get into. I had forgotten how important it was to do all the things I loved in balance with my work life. So. What did I do then?

I quit my second job that I thought I wanted, or furthermore, "needed". All of a sudden that big pink elephant released its chubby weight from my weakened shoulders. It felt as if the Heavens opened up and Monty Python style sunlight and singing echoed from above. Then I grabbed my running shoes. Entirely out of shape and self-conscious, I stepped outside with my favorite tunes playing and hashed out a 15-minute jog that felt like the Chicago marathon (P.S. I won). The sound of my heartbeat pounding and the way it felt dancing in my chest, I could sense I was on the right track again. It just felt right. When I got in the door I downed water with lime (citrus makes me happy) and then, as if the universe planned it, answered a text request from a friend to meet that afternoon.

Before I knew it, things started to fall into place. The right place.

I got my meditation/prayers back on track and I started pushing myself out the door when I felt lazy. Nature reached out and grasped me kicking and screaming until I remembered how much I needed to feel grounded again. (Duh, silly).

The feeling of the Spring sun and fresh air was enough to help shake off the cocoon I had been hiding in all winter. The old started its slow waltz out the door and the new strutted in, head held high and confidence flourishing.

You see. I write this not to sing like the grasshopper after winter, but rather to let you know that I can level with your struggle. Imbalance can feel like a sickness. It can manifest with physical ailments and can even reach as far as a deep depression.

We do so much to help others, it is truly an injustice to forget our needs. I call my accomplishments that make me happy throughout the day my "little wins". This name sticks because I know that with the addition of these small activities into my daily life, I'm a little bit brighter, a little more happy than I was before. One of my favorite writers and speakers, Gabrielle Bernstein calls them "miracles".

If that's not a win, I am not sure what is.

I encourage you to listen to your body and know when you need to rest. Also, try to recognize when you've dug yourself into a ruddy muddy hole with a wimpy ladder. It's okay. It happens. Shoot for a balance. Every day is a battle. It's not like Disney movies when all the scary and icky end with a kiss. And that's O.K. It's going to be O.K. You feel me?

Someone once told me that if you make a jar for all the things you love and then place a pebble in each jar when you complete those things... You will get a visual as to where you place your time. (Talk about a wake-up call!)

In a World of technical advancements, we are losing ourselves because the "noise" is giving us no rest. No time for the big, needy U-S. Now, more than ever, it is important to find what truly makes you happy and stick with it like glue. Only you know the battles you fight every day at work, and how it really truly affects you. Your life is your journey. It belongs to no one else. Why not give yourself a fighting chance?

Your only payoff and prognosis of giving into your need is feeling 20 feet taller, 1000000000000 pounds lighter, and awakening a sense of self that you've been missing for some time.

Love yourself. Love your journey.

You aren't alone.

Just remember, balance.

Molded and formed by a drive to live up to her own expectations, Jacquie ultimately thrives on creativity. Dreams, testing her limits, and traveling all fuel the fire, thus leading to adventures of the past and yet to be: http://misadventuresofanurse.blogspot.com/

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No Stars In My Eyes

Specializes in Med nurse in med-surg., float, HH, and PDN.

Oh boy, did you peek into my life or WHAT?


Specializes in acute care, LTC, currently home health.

Thank you so much for this post, imbalance is indeed a sickness.

Love this article! I talk and work on balance daily; tough to let yourself be you. When I'm out of balance, I know it almost immediately. Thanks so much for writing this, as Nurses we spend the majority of our time doing just that; caring for others.


Specializes in Med/Surg, Onc., Palliative/Hospice, CPU.

I'm so glad that this article has spoken to all of you in a personal way! Believe me friends, life is TOUGH but when we remember our happiness we can give so much more in such a healthy way. I know it's hard, but you're amazing. Remember that! xx


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