Friday, May 03, 2013

The Nurse's Personal Dashboard: Tune Up Time?

I recently posted here on Digital Doorway about each of us having our own personal dashboard. While that post made metaphoric mention of the speedometer, tachometer, fuel and lubrication, we didn't talk about the need for a timely tune up. So, let's take that metaphor and run with it, shall we?

When I discussed the idea of a lube job for the soul and body in that recent post, this is what I had to say:
When the going gets tough, the tough put their noses to the grindstone and soldier on. However, the thoughtful ones (who are also quite tough, mind you) take their personal vehicle into the shop for some spiritual and emotional lubrication.

What are the practices that lubricate your personal vehicle?  How do you keep all of the moving parts functioning and not wearing out prematurely? How does your psyche find respite? How does your emotional body find relief from its worries? Where does your spirit go for recharge?
So, in keeping with the metaphor of your own self as the vehicle, let's explore the notion of a tune up, taking into consideration the same questions posed above regarding the need for spiritual lubrication.

If you feel that you're in need of a tune up--either emotionally, spiritually, or otherwise--where do you turn? What practices are helpful for tuning up your various engines?

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

When the physical body is running down, one of the first places many of us turn to is sleep and rest. Sometimes there's nothing like some rest or extra sleep for recalibrating our inner carburetor and recharging our battery.

So much happens when we sleep, and the cellular repair that occurs during periods of rest is probably impossible to replicate elsewhere. Sleep is often the cure that our bodies need. Do you get enough?

Wellness Practices

Are you in the habit of scheduling a massage, an acupuncture session, a yoga class or other type of wellness activity when you feel your battery running low? You know you have to change the spark plugs in your car from time to time (or replace the battery altogether!), but do you do the same for yourself?

If your energy is low and you feel like you're on the edge of burnout or exhaustion, what can you do to set yourself right again and get back on track? Does a day at the spa sound like just what the nurse ordered? Do you have a friend with a hot tub? Do you need a day at the beach or in the forest?

Plugging In

If you have an electric car (a rare but growing reality), do you allow the battery to run down until you're at risk of losing all power in the middle of the highway? Or if your car is a hybrid, do you wait until the battery does its own version of a code blue before making sure that all systems are operating seamlessly?

Chances are, you plug your electric car into an outlet every chance you get, or you otherwise make sure your car's battery is up to snuff.

That said, how do you plug yourself in when your battery is running low? Do you walk in nature, visit your priest or rabbi, or take a plunge in the local pool, lake or river? Or maybe you go out dancing on a Friday night.

Whatever it is, there's something that recharges your battery, and you know what you need to do. And before you do the quintessential nurse thing and help someone else, plug yourself in first!


As part of a tune up, a mechanic will often adjust the "timing" of the engine, making sure that the pistons are firing in sequence and the cylinders are in good condition. (Lubrication is crucial here, too, of course).

Can you tell when you're not firing on all cylinders? Do you know when your "timing" is off? How do you identify when things are awry? How do you reset the timing when you know things are not right?

It's All About Energy

A car runs on energy and fuel, and so do you. We discussed fuel in last week's post, and there's no denying that what goes in impacts what comes out (in more ways than one!).

Your "engines" are multifaceted (spiritual, emotional, physical, mental, etc) and they all need their own versions of a periodic tune up. Whether you're changing the plugs, adjusting the carburetor, or otherwise smoothing out the rough edges of the ride, it comes down to energy. You want the engines to run smoothly, and the "machine" should be efficient on every level.

In this world, we seem to be firing on all cylinders all day, every day. We work, we play, we text and email and instant message and check our Facebook status while we're on the run. Some of us (not me!) text while we drive.

We're expected to be all that we can be in our careers, raise the kids, be a good friend and spouse, "work" on ourselves, and be happy amidst the maelstrom. The speed of life is faster than ever before, and the current rate of technological change is unmatched in our collective history.

So, when you're feeling like you can't take it anymore, perhaps it's time for a tune up. This can look different for everyone, but you know what you need to do. Perhaps, for you the secret is having a technology-free day once a week--or maybe even a technology-free evening. For your spouse, perhaps it's a visit to confession or the local bowling alley. For others, a camping trip or a cup of coffee and the Sunday paper does the trick.

Whatever you do to tune up your engines, do it wisely, and don't wait until disaster strikes. Like I said last week, treat yourself like a classic car in need of the most painstaking care and loving attention, and the relative "cost" of your periodic tune ups will pale in comparison to your renewed health, vigor and road-worthiness.
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