It had been a particularly busy day in work. As a Midwife I am used to managing a busy workload. It is my vocation to provide professional, evidence-based, individualised, women-centred care. The women in my care will always receive this and I will give them all the time and care they require. However, when I finish work and leave for home that is often my time to process the events of the day and reflect.
It was a sunny, spring evening. As I walked to my car I contemplated the clear blue skies with the setting sun beyond. I was happy to be heading home to my family in the knowledge that I had cared for women to the best of my abilities and in a way I would wish for my family to be cared for. It is incredibly satisfying to have such a role to play in an important event in a woman and her family’s life.
Driving in the rush hour traffic along the motorway the road dipped before me. I could see cars dotted at various intervals across the carriageway as far as the eye could see. The setting sun cast a dazzling hue across the fields and trees beyond. It was strangely beautiful. I thought of all the people in their cars travelling so fast. It seemed quite sad that there was this stunning sight yet in seconds it was gone. Had anyone else noticed what a beautiful evening it was? Any other day would I have even noticed? Travelling on the motorway doesn’t afford a driver the luxury to ‘take in the view’. It is about getting from A to B safely, paying close attention to the road, taking in the traffic situation and reacting accordingly.
I found myself thinking how life can can be like driving on a motorway. We live in a busy society. Ask how someone is doing, the answer is often ‘busy’. Busy is not a state of being, however in current society it seems have become so. People are rushing around juggling work, home, family, friends, the list goes on. In keeping all the balls in the air quick decisions are required; we are taking in information quickly, responding and moving on. This doesn’t leave much time for taking in the view.
Driving on the motorway for a short time is not a problem. Our brains can observe and process the information it requires to keep us safe on our journey. However, as time goes on we become tired in the effort to keep processing information at such a fast rate. If you drive for long enough the car will need refuelling as well. This is the same in life. Our brains can cope with being ‘busy’ for so long. Nevertheless, the cumulative effect of sensory overload is damaging to mental and physical health.
“Tiredness kills, take a break’ is advertised everywhere across the motorway network. Drivers are encouraged to stop and take a break. We need to give our brains time to rest and reset. If that principle can be applied to taking a break when driving and we can refuel our cars, then surely we should be applying that principle to ourselves. We need to take a break. We need to spend time ‘taking in the view’. We need to refuel our souls with what makes us happy. The following day was my day off, so I spent the day pottering about the house with my boys; reading books, playing in the garden, cuddling on the sofa, doing what makes us happy. I decided the ‘to do list’ could wait.
Are you taking a break? Are you refuelling your soul? Or are you travelling full speed down the motorway headlong in to sensory overload? Perhaps it is time to start prioritising yourself?
NB Originally posted on Selfish Mother site just over a year ago I wanted to share this post because I have been reading about the importance of self care and ‘slow weekending’ recently, this seems just as relevant now as when I originally shared it last year