On Friday night thought I was chilling out with my sister and we decided to watch a movie. Sounds pretty good as I love getting lost in a good story, but something happened that my supervisor has drilled into me not to do. We randomly picked one of the dvds she had recently bought, it was a pretty good movie but the content of the film had a striking resemblance to my work in palliative care. The themes, the emotional resonance was the stuff that I deal with on a weekly basis, the very things that I am having a rest from while I am on holidays from the hospital.
While it seems pretty innocent enough, it highlighted to me how we need to be aware of what we are consuming when we are not at work and how that can impact us. It includes the movies we watch, the books we read, the online content or even the things of interest that we consume. Obviously when you are passionate about something, it is something that is of interest to you but also when you are showing signs of burn out you actually need to separate yourself sometimes. I remember when I worked with young people living with cancer, my supervisor had me reflect upon this and what I realised was that I was being drawn to the emotive movies, the heavy content of books and articles to do ‘research’. It was all relevant to where I was working and it suddenly crept up that my whole world was becoming serious, always related to work with no real respite from it. She set me some homework to go to a movies that didn’t have serious content, read books for pleasure instead of learning and to find joy in all the things I got absorbed in.
It certainly helps to lighten the load and something to really consider. When you are not at work, how much of you is still at work – are you the person that takes books about your work on holidays with you, do you check your emails, research ideas, ring into the office or watch docos that help you with your role. Its not a bad thing to learn and keep mastering your profession, something to ask yourself though is what else is happening in your life and how do you energise, relax and have space to refuel when the tank is running on empty.
And sometimes we just need complete separation even if it’s a hypothetical story.