Recharging, the benefits of taking time out, friendship and knowing our heart age..

I’m just coming to the end of having two weeks off work on annual leave and it’s provided me with a bit of down time, space to get some home stuff done, catch up with old friends, see family, fit in a bit of extra exercise for the August #WeActiveChallenge supporting team #NursesActive and generally just ‘breathe’. Research suggests holidays can help to lower our blood pressure, improve our sleep quality and increase our resilience to stress and hopefully a change of pace means we’re even more productive on our return.

One of the things I’ve particularly enjoyed is catching up with friends. Friendships and social networks are hugely important in promoting wellbeing https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/a28200092/importance-of-friendship they can lower stress, encourage us to engage in exercise, keep us alert and generally make us feel better. This summer I’ve caught up with friends I worked with over 25 years ago at the Whittington Hospital in North London, Millie a Play Specialist, along with Jo and Ali, who are Nurses, we’d all worked on Ifor Children’s Ward together. As youngsters in our 20’s then, we cared for children and their families in some very tough circumstances and we all supported each other through the emotionally hard, as well as the good times. The NHS is full of ‘friendship teams’ like ours, people connecting and willing each other on, as well as opening doors to new experiences for each other. All of these women have created indelible memories in my life and as Millie reflected so wonderfully ‘when we get together it feels like we’ve never been apart’, this was us enjoying the early morning sunshine with a coffee!!

Perhaps the friendships being part of #teamNHS brings is something we should celebrate more? Who are your NHS friendship groups?

Whilst holidays provide breathing space there’s the challenge of the return to work that follows. I saw this infographic on twitter this week which I think came via @BevMatthewsRN and @leighakendall, done by @scriberian and Mind https://www.mind.org.uk/. It offers some great practical wellbeing tips as we get going into this Autumn term. The importance of breaks, taking up group activities, working appropriate hours, not letting work spill over into personal time, being more organised through list creation and making the most of our down time, all feature.

Whether you’ve had a holiday or are about to head off, I hope you’ve had time to reflect on work patterns and plan a strategy for the autumn term. It’s so important to pace ourselves as #teamNHS if we’ve to make our sustained contribution, and the only people that can make this a reality is ourself.

So I’m challenging myself on how I’ll create a positive work/life balance going forward into September. Being part of the #WeActiveChallenge for 2019 has been a huge amount of fun, we’ve all supported each other to increase our levels of physical activity which are so often neglected when life gets busy. It was @JamieWaterall of @PHE_uk who reminded us this week that our heart age is an important factor in our wellbeing. Knowing our heart age and taking action is something we can all do and take action on, this overview from the BBC has useful info and relevant links https://www.bbc.com/news/health-45395576 do work out yours.

So as I head back to work next week, armed with my ‘heart age’ (49 if you’re asking 😉) and refreshed by catching up with old friends, I’ll be trying to maintain balance and promoting my wellbeing to ensure I can care for others.

Author: @kathevans2

I’m a Children’s Nurse who is passionate about improving healthcare and life with people who use services. I love getting out in the countryside or to the seaside to promote my mental health and well-being. On a journey to doing 100 marathons (slowly!) & part of team #NHS1000miles (new members always welcome!) I also love charity shopping, cooking and healthy eating too 😉 Sharing thoughts on a range of things that interest me. Comments, challenge, links to further thinking and research are most welcome. Learning and thinking together is always more fun!

4 thoughts on “Recharging, the benefits of taking time out, friendship and knowing our heart age..”

  1. Lovely read, Kath. Friends, family, fresh air and exercise! Have you come across the ‘Healthy Mind Platter’? It gives lots of lovely neuroscience behind why these things help us be happier, healthier and do better work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for this important blog Kath as it resonates so much with my current situation. It is only now that I have embarked on a new chapter in my life (aka retirement) that I have reflected on so many missed opportunities to keep up with friends, put health & well-being first and generally enjoy life. Working in children’s health we invest so much into caring for and supporting others it is easy to forget our own needs. There are many occasions when I actively encouraged colleagues about the importance of work life balance – oh how I wish I had heeded my own my own advice as it could have made life so much easier during the last few months since I stopped work. The good news however is that it is never too late to take action and I now acknowledge that I could have continued to do ‘a good job’ whilst also making time for the other important things in my life! I agree strongly that we can make sure that we can and must encourage and support colleagues to have ‘me time’ but include ourselves in that! Getting out and enjoying nature whether that is a nice walk, reading a book in the garden or doing something more energetic is known to benefit our mental health. Only today I read that even taking up exercise in your 70’s or 80’s does make a difference to health and well-being so I might need to get planking – providing I can get down and back up from the floor!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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