As the hours of work grow, I lose time to take care of myself, and it takes a toll on me. Taking a break brings me peace, which I take back to work.
I recently took a break from radiology. I left New Orleans on Saturday morning and went to Philadelphia to visit my daughter as she begins her senior year in college. We had a lovely two days, visiting the new Barnes Museum of Art, eating delicious food in several restaurants and enjoying each other’s company.
I left Philadelphia on a nonstop flight to San Francisco on Labor Day, heading for a retreat at Asilomar State Park, near Monterey, Calif. On the retreat, we observed silence for three full days - a very unusual circumstance for a radiologist. We meditated, did yoga and wrote in our journals at various times during the day. We helped to clean the beach and to plant tender seedlings for dune restoration. No telephone calls, no email. Just rest and relaxation filled the week.
Today I am returning to my hometown relaxed and ready to begin work on Monday.
It has been six months since I last took a total break from work. A few weekends away were good for a short hiatus, but nothing relaxes me more than a week doing other things. The only time I thought about radiology this week was when people asked me what I do. Otherwise, I was a meditator, yogi or beach cleaner.
Taking a break is good to reset your thoughts to a positive place. When I am feeling positive and am rested - not tired and resentful - I enjoy work. That enjoyment translates to my relations with patients, colleagues and technologists, improving all our lives.
When the day is filled with lots of studies to read and lots of interruptions, I get tired and resent the interruptions because they slow me down. I leave work later, which adds to the frustration and irritation.
As the hours of work grow, I feel like I lose the time to take care of myself, just working, catching something to eat and sleeping. I stop taking the yoga classes or walking or reading a funny novel or writing. I notice the toll on my body and on my psyche. My muscles atrophy and I have less patience and fewer smiles and laughs.
Taking a break from work is important to realign myself with peaceful existence, which I carry with me when I return to work. I just plain feel better when I schedule breaks from work in my routine. And, as Martha Stewart would say, “that’s a good thing.”