A Mental Holiday

Here’s more sage advice for all the new grads and new nurses out there.

Our job is tough.

Our job gives new definition to the term STRESSFUL.

We accept and exercise much responsibility.

We also shoulder the burden of many things that are beyond our means.

In order to survive this job you need to learn balance. Balancing your life and your mental toughness.

If you think you can run at 150% all the time, every time you will burn-out just like the rest that have fallen.

If you think you can perform your duties at the level you want all the time, every time you will become distraught, wounded, and bitter.

Through it all you are still human, and in order to take care of others, you need to take care of yourself.

So here’s the key.

Take a break whenever you can, whenever it’s offered, whenever it’s available. (Yes, I am well aware of how rare taking a break is)

And when you take that ever-needed break. What ever you do, walk off the unit and leave work on the floor. Leave your next set of tasks on the unit. Do not take any work related ‘paperwork’ with you. Step away from the noise. Step away from the madness.

Use the break as a mental ‘reset’ of sorts. I call it taking a ‘mental holiday’. Even if it’s only for a couple minutes, 15 minutes, or 30 minutes. Use it as a time to refresh, reenergize and regroup your thoughts.

What ever you do, don’t’ take work with you on your break. Don’t gripe and moan to a fellow co-worker about your ‘day’. Doing that grinds down your resistance, beats down your spirit, and depletes you of that much needed spark. Trust me all those stresses and worries aren’t going anywhere.

Your (lunch) break is YOUR time. I personally take a book with me and read. I separate myself from the hustle and bustle. If I’m amongst co-workers I either keep the conversation fresh, or I excuse myself whenever the topic goes sour.

Take care of yourselves.

Enjoy your lunch.

Carpe Diem

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4 thoughts on “A Mental Holiday

  1. I agree with you for the most part, but I will say that there are times when having the chance to talk an issue out with coworkers while not in the actual unit is sometimes the best way to get a fresh perspective, get ideas for how to tackle something difficult, or to help you to regroup by having someone validate your feelings and provide support. At lunch, I often read, watch tv, or talk about random stuff with whoever is also on lunch with me, but there are times when we find we really need to talk about something going on in the unit, and I would have to say that just about every time we end up feeling better by getting it out, instead of holding it in and letting it eat us up. Blocking something out by focusing on other things for awhile doesn’t necessarily make that thing go away. If you can walk away from it, focus on something else, and come back with more energy or with that problem resolved, then that’s wonderful, but some things, when ignored or stored in that filing cabinet of stuff we don’t want to think about for awhile, can have extremely malignant effects when we least expect it.

    I would have to say that my mantra in life used to be “don’t think about it.” If something bad happens, get through it and do whatever in hell you have to do to put it behind you, move on, put on a happy face, and get back out there to face the next thing. After years and years of doing that, I finally learned that I had piled years and years of crap I never fully dealt with into that space in my brain, and it was threatening to destroy me. And when encouraged to talk about some of it, I resisted fully for a very long time. My thoughts were that talking about such things would leave me feeling distraught and then the person listening would move on about their day/life, and I’d be left reliving the absolute horror of something I had tucked far far away. But then I took a chance and started opening up about some of those things. And at first it DID really suck. It was painful. It hurt a lot. But at the end, whatever the thing was that I pulled out of that locked vault and discussed no longer had a hold on me, no longer haunted me, no longer affected me (subconsciously) in every single area of my life. And as I did this about more and more of those locked up thoughts, it was like the chains of misery broke off one by one.

    Now, what I’m talking about there is really not related to work specifically, but more related to life and how you deal with it. My boyfriend has said many times that the reason vets from WWII didn’t have the problems of later generations was because they didn’t talk about it, just stuffed it away and moved on. I can’t believe that this didn’t have some sort of lasting devastating effect in the long run. I’m not saying that we should dwell on our miseries, but we have to find some way to deal with them. Sometimes it results in an extended period of self-involvement and self-centeredness, but if at the end of that period you come out without that heavy burden, refreshed and better able to help others and contribute to the world, then it might just be worth it. We might not see the ghosts locked in the closet, but they never go away if we do not open the door and let them out, and they do haunt.

    The only reason I’m making this into a more broad picture is because it explains why I feel that sometimes talking out work issues, even when on break, can be a good thing. If that’s going to help resolve some painful conflicted feeling inside, then it is probably worth it. However, if the end result is going to be feeling more miserable, drained and overwhelmed, then it is definitely time to take the focus off for a little while.

    So I don’t disagree with you, but I just think that there are times when people really do need to talk about things, even when on break. And shutting that down can make a person feel like it’s not acceptable or that nobody wants to hear it and they should just put it away or deal with it on their own. Finding out that others share your feelings or getting a fresh perspective on a troubling issue can be a very big help that can leave you better off in the long run.

    Just my .02!

    Take care,
    Carrie 🙂

  2. I agree with you for the most part, but I will say that there are times when having the chance to talk an issue out with coworkers while not in the actual unit is sometimes the best way to get a fresh perspective, get ideas for how to tackle something difficult, or to help you to regroup by having someone validate your feelings and provide support. At lunch, I often read, watch tv, or talk about random stuff with whoever is also on lunch with me, but there are times when we find we really need to talk about something going on in the unit, and I would have to say that just about every time we end up feeling better by getting it out, instead of holding it in and letting it eat us up. Blocking something out by focusing on other things for awhile doesn’t necessarily make that thing go away. If you can walk away from it, focus on something else, and come back with more energy or with that problem resolved, then that’s wonderful, but some things, when ignored or stored in that filing cabinet of stuff we don’t want to think about for awhile, can have extremely malignant effects when we least expect it.

    I would have to say that my mantra in life used to be “don’t think about it.” If something bad happens, get through it and do whatever in hell you have to do to put it behind you, move on, put on a happy face, and get back out there to face the next thing. After years and years of doing that, I finally learned that I had piled years and years of crap I never fully dealt with into that space in my brain, and it was threatening to destroy me. And when encouraged to talk about some of it, I resisted fully for a very long time. My thoughts were that talking about such things would leave me feeling distraught and then the person listening would move on about their day/life, and I’d be left reliving the absolute horror of something I had tucked far far away. But then I took a chance and started opening up about some of those things. And at first it DID really suck. It was painful. It hurt a lot. But at the end, whatever the thing was that I pulled out of that locked vault and discussed no longer had a hold on me, no longer haunted me, no longer affected me (subconsciously) in every single area of my life. And as I did this about more and more of those locked up thoughts, it was like the chains of misery broke off one by one.

    Now, what I’m talking about there is really not related to work specifically, but more related to life and how you deal with it. My boyfriend has said many times that the reason vets from WWII didn’t have the problems of later generations was because they didn’t talk about it, just stuffed it away and moved on. I can’t believe that this didn’t have some sort of lasting devastating effect in the long run. I’m not saying that we should dwell on our miseries, but we have to find some way to deal with them. Sometimes it results in an extended period of self-involvement and self-centeredness, but if at the end of that period you come out without that heavy burden, refreshed and better able to help others and contribute to the world, then it might just be worth it. We might not see the ghosts locked in the closet, but they never go away if we do not open the door and let them out, and they do haunt.

    The only reason I’m making this into a more broad picture is because it explains why I feel that sometimes talking out work issues, even when on break, can be a good thing. If that’s going to help resolve some painful conflicted feeling inside, then it is probably worth it. However, if the end result is going to be feeling more miserable, drained and overwhelmed, then it is definitely time to take the focus off for a little while.

    So I don’t disagree with you, but I just think that there are times when people really do need to talk about things, even when on break. And shutting that down can make a person feel like it’s not acceptable or that nobody wants to hear it and they should just put it away or deal with it on their own. Finding out that others share your feelings or getting a fresh perspective on a troubling issue can be a very big help that can leave you better off in the long run.

    Just my .02!

    Take care,
    Carrie 🙂

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