I have recently returned to full-time nursing work and I am loving it. It’s been some time since I have worked full-time, and really, I never thought I would do it… ever again.
About 3 years into my nursing career I was finding it all a bit overwhelming so I began to cut my hours down. Over the years this drizzled down to only a few shifts a fortnight and even then I still thought that it was too much.
But I had to pay the bills, so I worked only as much as I had to: the result being that I financially struggled through life. But I was willing to put up with that, so long as I didn’t have to work too much.
Nursing, I believed, should only ever be part-time work, especially for those of us who worked shift work. I thought that I could reduce the toll on my body caring for sick people at all hours if I only worked part-time – I would reduce my chances of becoming overrun by the increasing stressors of work.
What I found was that no matter how many hours I worked I would still feel overrun by work stress.
I was not escaping it, no matter how little I worked: and because I wasn’t escaping it I needed larger amounts of time away from work. Even when I did have a week off work, I would be back feeling like I needed another week off during my first shift back. I’d notice this after having holidays too. Almost the moment I got back, I no longer felt like I had just had a break.
I did have a brief stint of full-time work about 10 years ago, but was constantly tired – I didn’t want to be there and I was allowing myself to be affected by what was going on in the workplace.
This lasted about 12 months before I began to reduce my hours again.
Having worked with many nurses over the years, I know that what I was feeling is a common experience amongst other nurses. It is common for a nurse to reduce his or her hours the longer they spend in nursing, unless they couldn’t due to financial reasons.
Even if they ‘have to’ work longer hours, there is very often the desire to reduce the amount of hours that are worked and often they long for that day, or long for retirement.
Over the last 5 years, with the support of Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine, I have been gradually increasing not only my hours of work, but my level of responsibility.
Over the last 12 months I could feel that I was ready to go back to full-time work. As I sat with this I could feel how important it was to acknowledge and appreciate myself, the choices I am now making and how the way I care and nurture myself has supported me in such a way that I am now back in full-time work again, and I’m loving it.
What I was feeling and observing in my body was key to the choices I was making. These examples stood out initially as I was learning to listen and take note of what my body was saying.
I always felt particularly exhausted after working a morning shift. I would get home and lay on the lounge, fall asleep, wake up for dinner and then fall asleep on the lounge again to wake up and to go to bed.
With this I did two things. I began to go for a walk after work as well as put myself to bed when I felt tired, which was often before 9pm.
The key here is how I went for a walk and how I went to bed. When I walked, I walked in a way that was how my body wanted to walk.
If I felt vital I would walk with more of a pace. If I was feeling tired and tender I would walk with more delicacy. Going to bed began about 6pm when my focus became about winding down from my day and not getting hooked into activities that were too stimulating, such as watching TV.
I also observed that when I watched TV I could easily ignore those tired signals, whereas when I do not watch TV, I more easily check into what my body is saying, and honour it.
This can be challenging when at work, but I just acknowledged what my body was feeling and worked in a way where I did not push myself. Within a short period of time I was no longer tired after work and had plenty of energy to complete my days, even if I was working late.
I also stopped drinking coffee. A while ago I noted that whenever I did not have my daily coffee I had a two or three-day headache, and that was only after one coffee. But I continued to drink coffee as I thought it helped me get through my shifts, especially nightshift.
I began to wonder, that if coffee has this effect then it may not be so good for my body. What I found was that coupled with the above changes, I actually didn’t need coffee (or tea for that matter) to keep me awake or get me through a shift, and that my energy levels were consistent through my day, whatever shift I was working.
There was no perfection, as I did feel tired at times late in the evening or whenever I was on night shift.
Through this I have learnt (and am still learning) that my body is a wonderful teacher. It really does tell me everything I need to know and understand about how I am living, the choices that I am making, and that I can always make new choices that are more caring and supportive for myself and my body.
I am relishing the opportunity of being back in full-time work. Admittedly I am now no longer working shift work, but this was never about not working shift work for I would have still returned to full-time work, shift work or not.
There is definitely going to be a period of adjustment for my body, but I now know how to support and care myself in a way that will definitely support me to remain in full-time work for a long time to come.
I have an immense appreciation for Serge Benhayon and all that he presents and lives, which has been an endless source of inspiration to me.
What I have learned and observed I have been able to apply to my own life.
By Jennifer Smith, Registered Nurse, Australia