by Jennifer Smith, Registered Nurse, Australia
Working as a nurse, I spend a great deal of time standing and walking during my work day. I could easily say that I would walk 5kms most days as part of my job. I used to think that I was getting plenty of exercise during my day, at work and that would suffice for regular daily exercise. So other than the activity that I would do at work, I did no exercise.
I loved walking, but would only walk if it meant that I was travelling from point A to point B. This worked quite well for me when I use to live in a city and relied on public transport, but once I moved to a country area I needed to use my car all the time. So the ‘incidental exercise’ and walking that I did came to a standstill.
Fitness and exercise as a young adult, was also very goal driven for me. There was an area of work that I was keen to join that required a certain level of fitness. I was very determined to get into this line of work, so I pushed myself very hard so that I could run so far, do so many sit-ups and push-ups, all within in a certain time frame. I can honestly say that I didn’t enjoy any of it and I had a particular dislike for running, but I had to do it. I was determined to get into this job. Once I was in, there was no need for me to continue this style of exercise, so I stopped and did nothing.
It’s interesting to reflect on the beliefs I had around exercise. It had to have a purpose. Walking was to get somewhere and pushing myself to get into this job was me trying to be someone. I had no sense of true enjoyment in any of the physical activity that I was doing. I always had a sense, though that I needed to walk and move my body but I didn’t quite know where to start, so…..I did nothing.
Over the last 2 or so years I have gradually made changes to how I care for myself with my eating patterns, how I rest and sleep. The fact that I did no exercise and hadn’t done any for years was becoming an issue I knew I needed to address. I had an opportunity to attend a gentle exercise class, so I did.
The first thing that surprised me was how my body really felt the workout, even though it was gentle and I was only doing as many repetitions of an exercise as I felt to. So I wasn’t pushing myself. I had no sense that I had to better or improve myself. The next thing I noticed was how enjoyable it was to exercise in this way. So enjoyable, that I’ve kept it up and even returned to the gym.
The thing that surprises me the most and is the most delicious aspect of exercising in this way is how lovely I feel at the gym or while going for a walk. There’s no trying or pushing or improving. It’s all about listening to my body and doing exercise that supports me at the pace that I feel.
The effect on my work as a nurse is amazing. My general fitness levels have increased dramatically. Travelling through a shift, caring for sick patients and dealing with the general running of a ward/hospital have become physically easier. I don’t get so tired.
Recently I noticed I was tired after a morning shift. I’d convinced myself that I was so tired that I could not possibly go for a walk, even though I knew I needed to do something physical. What I realised though, with the assistance of a very wise Universal Medicine Practitioner, is that I had been taking on all of the events, issues and emotions of the day and perhaps what I needed to do was actually walk after work.
I had 7 shifts in a row coming up, the majority of them mornings. The perfect opportunity to do an experiment!
So I took myself for a walk after all of those morning shifts. The moment I started walking, I could really feel in my body what I had taken on. My arms and shoulders especially felt so tight and heavy. As I walked, I had a sense that I was releasing the day that I had taken on. When I got home, I noticed how my energy had re-balanced itself so that I wasn’t drained and had plenty of energy for being at home in the evening. A 7 day in a row stint is usually viewed in nursing with dread. But my experience showed me that with commitment and understanding of how to truly care for my body, I can remain energised and vital, during and after work.
I now realise how important daily exercise and especially walking is for me, but also for the people I nurse and come into contact with during my day. The more I care for me, the more I can care for them.
So it is, with a spring in my step I’m off for a walk.
Inspired by Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine.