And as nurses, I am sure you ‘get’ the correlation between physical health and professional productivity since all we hear about these days are terms like resiliency, stress relief, compassion fatigue and burnout. But let’s put this into real life perspective, shall we?
So my most recent illness (yes, I just said that having had several before this one) was a really nasty head cold. OK, not life-or-death here, but still… it can bend you over and slap you on your ass… that’s for sure. I worked in bed, as best I could.
However since my head felt like it was in a vice, I couldn’t concentrate. Since my eyes were running, I had trouble focusing on the computer screen. And don’t get me started on the runny nose… it was impossible to meditate because- really, how does one focus on breathing in and out of the nose when you just cannot breathe!?
Now a simple head cold, as I said already, isn’t life-threatening. So sure, I was able to function, work and still keep up our house as best I could (you women out there reading know what it’s like when a man is sick, right?!). But what was this wonderful low risk illness trying to tell me?
It’s time to rest. Take time to chill out. Hunker down and stay inside. Do nothing. And what else? Oh yeah… that small little whisper that most of us nurses can’t even hear: “Take better care of yourself…”
A small cold like this can turn into something worse. Not taking care of yourself can lead to exhaustion. Running non-stop can increase stress, irritability, and depression. You’re at risk for feeling more impatient, less engaged and looking for numbing ways to ‘check out’.
Again, I know you know this. So I’m preaching to the choir. But let me share a short little story before I close the post… something I recently ready in David Neagle’s book, ‘The Millions Within‘.
Do You Know?
Knowing is a tricky concept. David talks about how we learned in our traditional schooling. We studied a concept over and over until we memorized it and could repeat it back on an exam. Yet did we ‘know‘ it?
When your child comes to ask you about geometry, what do you know?
He suggests instead that knowing is actually doing. Having the awareness of something and then actually putting it into practice. Questioning it. Studying it. Coming to understand it for ourselves. Knowing is then when we become aware. And I don’t want to give the entire book away, you’ll have to read it for yourself (it’s great) but he shares how riding a bike is an example of actually coming to ‘know‘.
Cause isn’t it true that when you get back on that bike with your grand-kids down the shore, you know how to do it?
Health Impacts Career
So back to the head cold above, how did being sick (even in that tiny, little way) impact my work? Did I miss something? Did I forget to call someone back? Did I snap shortly in an email, turning off a potential client? Who knows…
And what about you? Depending on your range of sickness versus wellness, how do you show up at work? Are you making mistakes? Do you fight with colleagues? Does every little thing just get under your skin?
Take an honest inventory of how your health is impacting your career. Do what you can to relieve your stress and love your nursing career. Before it turns into something worse!
What do you think? I’m sure you have an opinion on this touchy subject? Can you share some feedback with us below? How have you seen your health impact your professional productivity- good or bad? Let’s hear from you…