Focus on Quality of Life—Mind, Body, Spirit

 In Nurses Weekly

This month’s theme for the Healthy Nurse Healthy New Jersey (HNHNJ) initiative is work-life balance with a focus on quality of life—mind, body and spirit.

I am a certified health coach and wellness speaker who loves to research the topic of work-life balance. Over the past two years, I have incorporated this theme into some of my talks because I feel that we are always striving for work-life balance as if it’s the end goal to live a happy life.

Imagine a scale with two sides loaded with the same exact weight on each side. The scale is even. I believe we picture work-life balance as this scale with two even sides; one side being work and the other side being life. We imagine that there must be equal weight on each side or else everything in our life will be totally thrown off! Let’s think about this analogy for a minute. How can our work be separate from our life? Now let’s compare our life to a pizza pie with our work as one slice of the pie! The rest of our pizza pie life is comprised of our mind, body and spirit, plus our families, friends, pets, hobbies, etc. If we put the work slice on one side of the scale and the rest of our life slices on the other side of the scale, we realize that the scale is not even!

SPOILER ALERT: It is almost impossible to have equal distribution of weight for work on one side of the scale and life on the other side of the scale. When we believe work and life are two separate entities that need balancing, we eventually wind up living our days striving for something that is not realistic. This belief could be detrimental to our well-being.

So now what? We can tweak the wording here a little bit and come up with a more realistic scenario. I like to call this month’s theme “work-life integration.” How does that sound? Smoother? I think so.

As nurses, we are challenged with working long shifts, weekends, holidays, nights and everything in between, so we have to come up with some pretty creative ways to take care of all parts of our lives to allow ourselves to feel balanced. Our days off become the days for doctor appointments, hair appointments, house chores, food shopping, taking the kids to practice and school functions, time with our partners or friends, etc. We do a lot on our days off, but our work provides us with the funds to live our lives well.

My message here is that we really cannot separate work and life into two categories that we are trying to balance. We are one mind, body and spirit living a life that incorporates our work.

I strongly believe that we should strive for work-life integration by finding joy in our work. We find joy in many places in our lives, so why does it seem like work has to be this place where it’s just “another day, another dollar” or “is it Friday yet?” Joy starts in our minds and then is played out in our actions and words. Integrating the “work” slice of our life pie into the whole pie of our life is like tending to a garden. You have to pay attention to the work slice and see if it needs more watering, more sunshine, some weed pulling or some new seeds to be planted. All of the parts of our lives need our attention, and they don’t all get the same amount of attention all of the time. We all go through seasons of our lives and sometimes one part of your life requires more of your time and attention. The challenge is to continue to tend lightly to the other parts of your life so that they don’t wither and die.

I have found that when I’m aligned with my true self (mind, body and spirit), I am able to show up as my best self for my patients, coworkers, family and friends. This is something that I work on every day and I look forward to being a work in progress all the days of the rest of my life.
We wish you a joyful work-life integration!

Katie M. Carroll, BSN, RN, CHC, CPT and the Healthy Nurse Healthy New Jersey Team

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