Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Slow Down and Breathe

I've learned a few things for sure over the past few years.  I am most definitely a morning person.  I do best if I have a routine, even if it's not rigid.  I need to exercise for my mental health just as much as my physical health.  I need to get outside, regardless of the weather here in Wisconsin, at least a couple days a week.  Seems simple enough- set up a daily routine, get outside once in a while, exercise, and all is good.  Well, just because I know what I need to do doesn't mean that I always do it.

When you're in nursing school you have clinicals, which are days when you go to a hospital and actually work as a student nurse, you know, so you know what you're doing when you become a real nurse.  You assess patients, administer medications, monitor vitals, and just work on your communication skills with patients.  You do all this under your instructor's supervision and with a real nurse that you report to.  So you're also supposed to be fluent with what medications your patient is taking, how they are administered, what the med is for, and any side effects to watch for or special things you need to know.  So that means staying up late the night before, drilling yourself on all their meds, and then getting up early to get ready and get to the clinical site.  Then, by the time you get done with your shift, you drive home, and at least in my case, you feel exhausted and maybe do some of your shift journal, scarf down some leftovers, and go to sleep.  Consequently, the first things to get cut are devotions and journallng, reading for fun, and exercise.   Not fun.  For a while, I manage to maintain these on the other days, when I don't have clinicals, but then slowly and surely there's big papers to write, or an exam to study for, and gradually, all these safeguards to keep me happy and healthy fall away and I'm just taking my vitamins and trying to eat a salad once in a while.  Doesn't really cut it.

This is part of the reason why I love winter break (and summer break).  I go back and reestablish my healthy routines.  I look at what's working, what I like, and what I don't. Even if you don't have a midwinter break, you can still do this, and I encourage you to.  Take an afternoon and just be still.  Put on some music that you like, drink some coffee, and figure out what you need to do to feel ready to tackle life.  This isn't about making goals and plans.  It's just about making sure you have the groundwork in place to keep you calm and ready for life.  And we all could do with feeling a little more calm and relaxed.  Do you need to start getting up half an hour earlier so you aren't running late every morning?  Do you need to go to bed earlier?  Exercise even though you hate it?  Figure out what things would help you feel better and then come up with a plan to make it happen. 

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