As midwives our job can be incredibly stressful at times, even after the best shifts we can come away feeling drained or exhausted. In fact, in just about every job there are elements that are stressful and require individuals to take a step back and try to relax. It’s so important to look after ourselves and have that down-time which allows us to chill out and refuel, which is encouraged by our lecturers, mentors, friends and families. If we don’t have that down-time, it could start to affect our attitudes to the job and potentially our mental health as well.
I spoke to some of my fellow classmates about the different ways they spend their spare time to de-stress from the demands of the course. Coffee dates with friends, unravelling emotions and experiences over cake and a brew, hour after hour. Just getting out of the flat for a bit and going into a different space can make everything going on in our heads start to make a bit more sense. Getting somebody else’s perception on what’s happening could put things in a different light for you entirely. It’s always better to speak to someone than to keep things to yourself, and what better way to do it than over a cup of coffee with someone close to you and some artery-clogging food.
You may however, prefer a healthier option. I have some friends – albeit few – who actually go to the gym. Gym-goers are a different species to me, unpredictable and clear minded individuals who find ‘pleasure’ in hurling weights off the ground and running on the spot on an endless conveyor belt of hell. They are also, some of the most motivational and compassionate friends I have. They welcome me into their rooms of torture with open arms and after a couple of hours you get to leave strutting a total ‘body is a temple’ complex, until you wake up the next day and feel like Mufasa if he’d survived the stampede.
Negativity aside, going to the gym is one of those activities that can genuinely make you forget your responsibilities even just for a short while, and instead spend time with your friends and feel inspired to push yourself. I turn up in my sports clothes in the living room in front of my flatmates and they say why on earth are you going to the gym? My reply is usually ‘to run away from my problems’, and I’m not joking when I say that.
There are definitely some more enjoyable ways to spend your down-time than the gym, one of which is going out for drinks. It doesn’t even have to end in a nightclub and subsequently a raging hangover. It could be a few carefree gin and tonics with your favourite people, joking about placement experiences, complaining about essays and planning the next 50 years of our lives.
One of my favourite ways to distract myself from uni and placement though, is simply a night in with my girls accompanied by a greasy takeaway and some decent telly. All wrapped up in pyjamas and blankets with my favourite people, laughing and crying over a cheesy film, a Louis Theroux documentary, or an emotionally gripping book. When I say emotionally gripping, I’m specifically referring to Adam Kay’s This Is Going To Hurt. If you haven’t read it, read it – this is most important bit to take away from my blog.
We’re only human, we are not invincible and we are not perfect. We need to be good to ourselves and treat ourselves every now and then. On our course we’re a team and we support each other, and I wouldn’t be able to cope on placement without the friends I’m lucky enough to have. We need coffee, gym, telly and each other to get through life, or else it would be so much more difficult and so much more boring. I, for one, do not choose difficult and boring.