By Michele Pilon
President/CNO, Transylvania Regional Hospital
Most everyone I know – myself included – creates a few New Year’s resolutions each year. Many have to do with taking better care of ourselves, with the end goal of improving our health. Unfortunately, after just a few months elapse, the resolutions are often long forgotten.
The simple truth is that drastic changes are less likely to become long-term behaviors; instead, making just minor tweaks is far more realistic. Those tweaks can support our health, renew our spirits, and build long-term resilience. Even slight changes in diet, exercise, and stress busting help us as we juggle family, work, school, our health, and what sometimes seems like an endless list of duties.
I recently asked the Transylvania Regional Hospital leadership group to share ideas about the practices they employ to enhance their own health and wellbeing. Not surprisingly, they came up with long list of great tips on everything from incorporating movement into the workday to techniques that promote work-life balance, proving that it can be done.
Our Clinical Informatics Manager Lynn Harron, invests in supporting her team members’ good health, and believes that creatively adding movement into our long days can help us deal with stress. She uses a series of stretches that are targeted for office workers who typically spend significant time sitting and working on computers. A wide range of stretches can be done while standing, but you can perform neck stretches, head rolls, back stretches, and moves that can alleviate back tension even while you sit. Standing or walking meetings are another trend that incorporates more steps into one’s day, and likely cuts down on meetings that run long.
Pharmacy Manager Jessica Reihl is mindful of the role journaling plays in her ability to see positivity every day. An idea she got from a leadership conference has motivated her to keep a “Three Things Journal,” which allows her to record, in her own words, each day’s “three things I’m grateful for, three things I saw today that were amazing, and three things that will make tomorrow great.” Additionally, she recognizes the time and stress-saving aspects of preparing her breakfasts and lunches for the upcoming week each Sunday afternoon. This ensures that Jessica has enough energy to power through the day, and she finds she’s not feeling exhausted at the end of the day, so she is up for doing something fun after work – enabling and supporting a balanced life.
April Pryor, MS, LPC, and Program Coordinator for TRH’s Fresh Start Behavioral Health Structured Outpatient Program, also knows a thing or two about self-care. For 2019, she plans to continue with her 2-3 time-per-week yoga practice – great for relaxing the body and clearing the mind. Brief yoga routines have even been developed for workers to do during a 10-minute coffee break, either alone or with colleagues.
April also finds it energizes her to attend a behavioral health or leadership development education class quarterly – she enjoys learning and interacting with new people. She cites encouraging people and videos, like the Netflix documentary “Happy,” about how to foster happiness in one’s life, as well as spending time outdoors and sharing good times with friends, family, and coworkers to be potent practices for adding balance and joy to life.
Ridding one’s self of the “I’ve got to do everything myself” mindset is also important, both in and out of the workplace. We shouldn’t be above asking for help – if possible, even something as simple as working remotely one day a week can also help with work-life balance and lessen stress.
Dietary tweaks – like having an extra piece of fruit in the afternoon or choosing to have vegetables be your dinner plate’s “main event,” can also add up to lost pounds. I recently found a low-fat salad dressing I like, and because dressing is often the element that transforms a salad from healthy to not-so-much, I’m going to continue buying it. Grocery store managers are also receptive to requests to carry healthy products.
Here’s to a fresh start in 2019. Hopefully these tips will help you as you tend to yourself – a very important task – this coming year.
Michele Pilon, MS, BSN, RN, NE-BC, is the President and CNO of Transylvania Regional Hospital. Her diverse professional experience includes service as a bedside nurse and over a decade as a leader at healthcare institutions in Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina. Ms. Pilon earned a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Ohio’s University of Akron and a Masters in Health Services Administration from the University of St. Francis in Illinois; she is also a Board-Certified Nursing Executive.