Mindfulness & work

For most work is a necessity.

For me, it certainly is.

In 2010 I began working as a Registered Nurse in a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit in Philadelphia. I was proud to have started my nursing career there. I had done well academically, and thought that the ICU environment would be what I need to continue to spur my growth and interest in medicine. 

What I found, however, was that rather than thriving in the environment, I was overwhelmed by the physical, mental, and emotional demands of the job. Never before had anyone's life been in my hands, but now three days a week, for 12 hours at a time, that was exactly what I was called to do.

What I also found unsettling was that while I was able to been easy-going, sociable, and able in my life outside of work, I struggled to bring those same qualities to the bedside. I felt something was wrong with me, that I was dissociating from who I really was.

This led me to the Penn Program for Mindfulness. I attended their Stress Management for Health Care Workers series and the rest, as they say, was history.

Much is made of the importance of work/life balance. But we must be careful, as this concept can be incorrectly interpreted as: while work is stressful and its demands overwhelm me, I make up for it by taking care of myself when I am not at work. This separation suggests that it is normal to be, act, and feel one way at work, and then be, act, and feel another way at home.

But we are one whole person, integrated from head-to-toe, and from the smallest cell to the whole of our being. Rather than divide ourselves we should seek a way of being which allows for us to find balance in each moment, whether we are at work or home.

Mindfulness offers just this opportunity!