end of earth nurse

Keeping the Balance

From the moment I arrived to Puerto Escondido, Mexico, I felt a huge wave of peace wash over me. I had been in colonial cities in the mountains for the greater part of a month. I love the mountains too, but there is something special about the beach.

Time slowed down, and all of a sudden everything else could wait. All I wanted was to feel the breeze on my skin, and hear the waves crashing on the shore. When I stepped on the beach, my mind was clear from all the stress and worries that naturally come with travel.

At the beach I lived more in the present. I traded some time on the phone, for time with those around me. I ate delicious food, ran in the sand, and surfed on the sea. I took a break from death to really feel life, with all my senses.

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I almost missed this experience altogether. As a nurse, or maybe just as a “highly sensitive person”, I find myself constantly thinking about other people. I sometimes can’t enjoy what’s in front of me, because I feel guilty when others don’t have the same. I always feel like I need to be working towards something greater than myself.

While it may seem like a nice thought, the burnout will eat you alive if you let it. It’s a constant battle between taking advantage of the opportunity given to me, and convincing myself that I am deserving of it.

Nurses and other caregivers have some of the hardest jobs on the planet. Though extremely rewarding, nursing is also extremely mentally, physically, and emotionally difficult. I never gave myself much of a break during the last five years. I was constantly working or in school. I sacrificed so much of myself, that I didn’t have much left to give.

I love nursing, and I love taking care of people, but I love myself too. We all need and deserve to take time to do what makes us happy. It can be found on a beach in the Pacific, or someplace simpler like in a book or a park.

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By the time this trip is over, I will not have had a job for one year. At first it felt weird, wasteful, and selfish, but as time goes on I see how this break helped restore my passion. Maintaining a balance between caring for others and caring for myself makes me a better nurse.

I’m learning to see pain in the world, while not taking it on myself. It’s okay to feel good even though the world can sometimes be a terrible place. It’s sometimes a really good place, too.

I’ve been aware of the concept of self care for years, but I thought I could get by without it. I thought if I could keep pushing myself to the limit I could get ahead, but I pushed myself over the edge.

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We all have responsibilities to maintain secure lives for ourselves and our children, but we have to keep the balance. Make time to enjoy yourself every day, no matter how insignificant it may seem. You are just as important as everyone else in your life.

5 thoughts on “Keeping the Balance

  1. Hsin-Yi

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s a good reminder for the “givers” in the world to slow down, and enjoy life too. We can’t care for other people if we aren’t taking care of ourselves. Keep up the awesome writing Emily!

  2. Natalie Lu

    Beautiful post, Emily. Self care dialogue threads are on the rise in health care. I work for a hospital that recently surveyed employees on this topic, and it turns out most of us need a nudge to prioritize self care while caring for others! I’m motivated by the initiatives falling into step in my organization and by writing like yours to take action in delivering self care. Do keep enjoying life in these important, life-expansive travels. Thanks for sharing your obvious passion for the breadth and depth of life.

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