I am reading and seeing many articles about burnout and stress in professional women. I think this area is one that people are aware of but are afraid to talk about. Facing reality can be difficult. When we are honest with where we are, changes may need to be made. We may need to change some habits, or make a change of scenery. Many times burnout comes as a result of a disconnect between where we actually are in life, and where we really want to be.
I have to admit my own struggle in this area. Quite possibly, this is why the area of wellness and balance is so intriguing to me. Have I achieved a total sense of wellness and balance? No I am on a journey. After I wrote the article, My Best Life at 50, I have made changes and although not always consistent changes, I believe I am at least traveling in the same direction.
I had an “aha” moment this week as i was looking back over some of the work shifts I had recently encountered. I had several areas of stress but not necessarily because of work related situations. I had been struggling with symptoms of bronchitis. My body was tired as I had not slept well the previous week. What I want in my life is less stress, and I want to have the reaction of calm when stress wants to take over. What I realized is when I am in what is perceived as stressful situations, my coping mechanisms haven’t taken over as I would have liked. My “aha” moment is that my coping mechanisms have not become “me”. What do I mean by that? I believe in “breathing” and “guided imagery”, “yoga”, and “being present”. However I haven’t practiced these principles to the point where they are my automatic habit, or “who I am”. These attributes are who I want to be and how I choose to deal with stressful situations.
How do these skill sets become our “breath” or who we are? These come about by practice. Practice when times are controlled. Practice when stress isn’t upon us. It reminds me of soldiers who are trained for combat. They have practice drills. They train and learn strategy. The soldiers aren’t placed in battle until reacting to combat is second nature. Their ability to react becomes their “breath”.
Practicing being present, attention to breathing, yoga exercises, or guided imagery are all great ways to deal with real or perceived stress. I just found some awesome apps for my iPhone. I have yoga DVD’s and just purchased a yoga ball and mat. Practice makes way for preparation! I will be prepared next time I perceive a stressful situation. What about you?
Beth hawkes says
Great post, Joyce. We all need to learn to listen to our bodies. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you Beth! As nurses, we are our own worst enemy! We really need to listen to what our bodies are telling us!