I’ve been through very stressful times in my life even when I was still a kid (yes, kids can get stressed too). And I am quite sure all of us can relate how awful it feels when your heart is racing with that sudden surge of blood coming to your head as if your body is trying to ‘over-perfuse’ your brain to work harder. When I get anxious, this is what I always say: I don’t like this. But no matter how much we try to avoid stress, the truth will always come back to us – it is inevitable and sometimes necessary to act on something.
Having worked as a nurse in a crazy busy unit (before I moved to ICU), I had those shifts when I’m running behind with my medications, patients deteriorating, phone calls every now and then, discharges needing to be done ASAP because very sick patients were waiting for beds in ED, my bladder feeling like a bomb that could explode any minute, tasks piling up and seems unending… and yet I still try to carry on no matter how exhausted I am. Then when I’m about to go home I realize that I forgot to eat my lunch. This doesn’t happen every day but I am quite sure all nurses can tell you similar stories.
I believe same pattern can also happen in our lives. We can get so overwhelmed by so many things: bills, deadlines, meetings, domestic chores, responsibilities, career, relationships, nasty colleagues, you name it. And then we allow ourselves to be pressured to the point where we become drained and worn out, feeling helpless and silently freaking out at the same time.
There is no magic formula for a stress-free life (if that ever exists) but I’ve learned that it is helpful when we are able to recognize the fine line between hard work and overwork. We need to remind ourselves that our energy has limits and when we realize we are getting tired we need to do this very important part of working:
Have a break.
We have to pause and replenish our reserves. When go through difficult times it is healthy not to make decisions unless you have to. We need to take a deep breath and calm down. By doing these we make ourselves more productive in the sense that we think better and have more energy for the challenges and tasks waiting for us.
Guilt may haunt us and convince us that if we do that we are just wasting our time and we better keep going no matter what because we are not lazy. Well, it’s not an issue of laziness or unwise time management. It’s all about balance and healthy way of life.
That’s why breaks in workplaces are required rather than optional.
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