Healthier You Spring
IDEAS FOR YO UR OWN WELLNE SS GOALS
TIPS TO AVOID PROFESSIONAL BURNOUT CONNECTING HOBBIES WITH WORK WELLNESS
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Volume 6, Issue 5
DR. KNOLL’S RECIPE FOR WELLNESS
Dr. Susan Knoll shares her thoughts on which factors in life influence overall wellness most - and what you can do to improve them!
REGULAR FEATURES 4 CEO WELCOME
CRAFTING FOR NOW, WELLNESS FOREVER Lara Frederick brings crafting to work to show her gratitude and give thanks.
A CULTURAL APPROACH TO WELLNESS���������������� 5
LIFE’S BALANCING ACT������������������������������������������������� 16
WELLNESS OUTSIDE OF THE MEAL�������������������������� 7
LEARNING ON THE JOB: FINDING WELLNESS AS A PROFESSIONAL PHYSIOTHERAPIST�������������������� 21
Where does drumming connect to men’s health and wellness? Henry Morgan explains cultural wellness and its impacts. Good food has so many wellness benefits, and often it’s not what’s on the plate, but around it.
WELLNESS AT WORK: TIPS FROM YOUR RECREATION THERAPIST������������������������������������������������ 9
Strong mental health inside work means engaging in self-care: Lessons from a mental health clinician.
Christina Conrad describes life as a new physiotherapist, and the value in strengthening your body outside of work, so you can be strong at work.
Simple steps that can point you in a happier, more fulfilling wellness direction.
BIG MOVES WITH BIG HEALTH REWARDS������������ 12 From the Okanagan to Smithers! Read how Leah Smith de-stressed with a change of scenery.
PHYSICIAN BURNOUT: HOW TO AVOID THAT STRESSFUL, SINKING FEELING���������������������������������� 14 Staying positive, setting goals, and more! Learn how to rise above your workplace stressors.
Wellness by professionals Northern Health is a fortunate organization. Our industry isn’t short of stressors, but where the complexity of our work lives, so do the countless number of exceptional staff from all different fields of healthcare. I’m proud to be involved in an organization that has so many talented and dedicated people.
Cathy Ulrich President and Chief Executive Officer, Northern Health Where can you find Healthier You?
This edition of Healthier You magazine presents the perfect opportunity to ask the question: how do they do it? How do the ones who are tasked with giving care and promoting health for their work, make sure to incorporate wellness into their own lives?
As you’ll see, there are so many fun, creative, and above all different ways staff at Northern Health participate in wellness, inside and outside of work. It’s exciting and interesting to see the variety of ideas and methods our staff use, and whether or not it stems from their line of work. Something that truly stands out, is that there is no perfect or right way to find balance in one’s life. The idea of “to each their own” truly resonates here.
• Doctors’ offices • Walk-in clinics • Pharmacies • Other community settings
For example, reading how recreational therapist Jaymee Webster’s workplace practices “spill over” into her personal life may embolden you to look further into your profession to find something that can bring balance outside of work. But not all wellness comes from inside the workplace. As you’ll discover in Lara Frederick’s story, sometimes the most impactful methods of finding balance come from personal joy in hobbies like her passion for crafting. Learning how individuals can bring unique and effective ways to relieve the stressors of work from their personal world is pretty special. It’s exciting to hear how Northern Health employees from all regions and areas of our multifaceted organization create their own wellness. As you read through this inter-professional themed issue, I hope you’re encouraged to explore different wellness techniques, find that all important balance, and maybe even have a little fun along the way! As always, if you have a wellness or healthy community story that you’d like to see in a future issue of Healthier You, please contact our health promotions team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Healthier You Volume 6, Issue 5 – Spring 2018
the northern way of caring
PUBLISHED BY NORTHERN HEALTH & THE PRINCE GEORGE CITIZEN
Copyright ©2017. All rights reserved. Reproduction of articles permitted with credit. Northern Health
Contributors / Healthier You is produced by the Northern Health health promotions team with contributions from Northern Health staff and partner organizations, in partnership with The Prince George Citizen.
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Advertisements in this magazine are coordinated by The Prince George Citizen. Northern Health does not endorse products or services. Any errors, omissions or opinions found in this magazine should not be attributed to the publisher. The authors, the publisher and the collaborating organizations will not assume any responsibility for commercial loss due to business decisions made based on the information contained in this magazine. Speak with your doctor before acting on any health information contained in this magazine. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without crediting Northern Health and The Prince George Citizen. Printed in Canada. Please recycle.
HENRY MORGAN SHARES HIS TAKE ON WELLNESS, AND WHAT CAN HELP YOU STAY HEALTHIER AND HAPPIER
Carol Whetter, Staff Writer, First Nations Health Authority
“My daughter made me breakfast today,” said Henry Morgan, the Coordinator for Men’s Health and Wellness at the First Nations Health Authority, as he set down his lunch bag and took off his jacket. “It was a nice surprise.” Henry is in this new position, which focuses on bringing men together to develop support networks and learn about issues they face. Henry took time to answer some questions regarding his own wellness routines. What sorts of things influence your wellness? Friends working hard towards improving their health and work environments. Do you engage in culturally-based wellness activities? If so, would you share some? Yearly the biggest thing is going home to my community and doing my salmon harvesting. There’s a lot of physical pieces to that: carrying salmon, cleaning salmon and the smokehouse, packaging. It takes a lot of endurance, 6:00am to 11:00pm working. It reinvigorates my mind, my well-being. It’s grounding. And I do drumming and singing. And language.
Do you drum here? (Lheidli T’enneh Territory Prince George) Yup. It may not be my culture (Gitxsan) but it still helps. Would you please explain how the Medicine Wheel relates to your life? (The Medicine Wheel is divided into four sections: 4 directions, 4 colours, etc. Each quadrant also relates to well-being: intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual.) We have to keep balanced in our lives, otherwise we live unbalanced. We use the Medicine Wheel. If we’re stuck in our minds every day, we’re out of balance. If we’re not doing anything physically we’re out of balance, we become overweight or start doing negative Continued on page 6
How does song figure in your wellness plan? I try to drum every week to keep the mind active; it teaches you how to speak and how to be present in a community, acknowledging territories and those kinds of things. It gives you that teaching. You don’t just go out and do it. You have to be mindful of what you’re doing, where you’re doing it, what songs you’re doing. I’m guided by the drum leader; I don’t do it on my own.
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stuff. The emotional piece…if I don’t go to a counsellor to get that out, or into a Sweat Lodge, my emotions will be out of balance, ‘cause everything builds, right? And the spiritual piece comes along with all of those. I believe if you follow a cultural lifestyle, you will live a balanced lifestyle. How do you know if you are out of balance? Your body tells you. If you are angry or frustrated every day, your mind’s out of balance. You need to do something. If you’re feeling like you’re exhausted, you’re physically out of shape. Emotionally if you’re sad, you’re not happy. And the spiritual piece…if you don’t pray to the Creator, don’t do anything, you’re stuck in a self-pity state. You don’t believe in anything. In today’s offices there is lots of stress. What do you do to counteract that? I take my breaks. I tend to go for a walk if I’m sitting at a desk too long. You strain your eyes, strain your back, knees. Get out of the environment. Go visit friends or coworkers. You mentioned that family and friends influence your wellness. Does what you are talking about here also happen in your family? I tell my son instead of getting upset or crying over something to use his words. When you’re frustrated with something, walk away. Take the dog out to the land. Get out of the house. With salmon fishing every year, and hiking, we try to do all kinds of things. Camping. We try promoting an active life. It’s not running marathons, but it’s within our realm. In the Men’s Health and Wellness role, what types of wellness activities would benefit men specifically? I think when we dive into it we’re looking at depression, the hopelessness. We’re really focusing on bringing men together so they’re not alone. And being able to have a voice. There’s a lot of times we get secluded in small communities and they have no one to talk to because “that’s my relative, and that’s my relative and that’s my relative, and if they know I’ll be even more isolated. Even the counsellor is my relative. Who do I talk to?” or “I can’t go to a psychologist because the process takes three times longer.” Would you say that was your experience at any time in your life? I never needed a psychologist, but being able to talk to someone…family gave advice but sometimes we don’t listen to family. It’s always challenging. Until you get older, then it’s “…that’s what they meant.”
You mentioned that you used to drink. What made you decide to do life differently? When it starts taking over. To realize that it’s created such a big impact on your life, where you lose your job or your family, or those kinds of things, you have to stop and look at it, acknowledge who you are hurting. We always leave out family. We think of co-workers and friends, but not about hurting parents or brothers and sisters. Since you quit drinking five years ago, what is the #1 wellness activity you go back to day-to-day? I have a dog and I go out walking. We take turns with the kids so they get out too, out of their rooms. Walking is a good one. I quit smoking for a year but I have to work on that again. That’s been on my mind the last month. It’s just a matter of taking that first step again. Anything else to add? If it wasn’t for the encouragement of mothers or partners to say “Go and sing” or “Go and do this; you have to do this” in a good way…without that encouragement, I probably wouldn’t have been successful. So being able to listen to our women, because they always push you. No matter how uncomfortable you are, they’re like “Go do it!” The women are great leaders in any community. If you think about it, when you get out there in the health field, it’s all women pretty much. It’s not always a bad thing; they’re pillars of the community.
DIETITIAN DENA FERRETTI HAS A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE OF WELLNESS: IT’S WHAT’S AROUND THE PLATE, NOT ON IT. Dena Ferretti, Registered Dietitian, Northern Health
As a dietitian, I hear the word “wellness” used so often in an extreme way, I fear the meaning is lost in translation. I define wellness by doing an activity that brings a sense of joy – like sitting down to enjoy a fresh cinnamon bun out of the oven. I see wellness in two contexts: First, how it applies to my work as a long term care dietitian, and second, how it applies to my life at home. Continued on page 8
Continued from page 7
As a long term care dietitian, I often get referrals to see residents regarding their diet (diet simply meaning the food we eat - nothing more). Referrals come in all shapes and sizes; it could be due to “Mrs. Jones’” diabetes, or “Mr. Smith’s” dementia. Whatever the reason for seeing a resident, I always approach the visit from a place of wellness. This means I might liberalize Mrs. Jones diet so that she can have the monthly birthday cake with her tablemates. Why - doesn’t she have diabetes? Yes she does, however Mrs. Jones finds joy in eating cake and this activity makes her feel included in the festivities of her new home. This is wellness! For Mr. Smith, I might change his diet to finger foods and speak with the staff about the opportunity to offer him a quarter sandwich and walk with him for a while when he’s walking the halls. Why? Mr. Smith likes to eat, but finds sitting down for a meal confusing and overwhelming. A sandwich while walking is easier, and it makes him feel good while providing him the nourishment his body needs. Nothing fancy, but when he lived alone, he loved eating sandwiches! It’s incredible to think that even without focusing on what’s being eaten, the very act of eating can have a wellness effect on someone. Which brings me to how this sort of wellness applies to my family! Our family lives outside of town on a larger lot, but by no means an acreage. In the last five years we’ve welcomed two children, built six raised garden beds, learned how to bee keep with one hive, and as I write this article, my husband – who’s no handyman – is building a coop for the six chicks chirping in our dining room. We don’t garden because home grown veggies are healthier; we do it because the act of gardening brings us all joy. We don’t have bees (which I’m terrified of) because the honey is better for you, we do it so we can enjoy it with our friends. We’re raising chickens not for their eggs, but because we want to have animals around our young kids. Our hopes are that this can help teach them empathy - and yes, to be frank, my almost two year old eats three eggs for breakfast. That one is a win-win for everyone! Whatever it is that you do, or eat, I hope that you can spot the benefits in both the food and the act, and both of these important parts bring you as much joy and wellness as possible!
LOOKING FOR A BETTER WORKPLACE? BYOB: BRING YOUR OWN BALANCE Jaymee Webster, Activity Worker Recreational Therapist, Northern Health
In the world of recreation therapy, we often think of wellness as not the absence of disease, but rather on a spectrum. As such, there are many factors – physical, social and psychological – that have an impact on someone’s ability to reach optimal wellness. Optimal wellness is personal and it changes throughout the lifespan; it looks different for everyone. As a recreation therapist in the rehabilitation setting, I work with those whose well-being or independence has been compromised due to multiple health or social problems. I provide leisure education opportunities for individuals to learn the benefits of leisure involvement, how it can have an impact on well-being, and what opportunities are available to them in their home community. My work has an obvious link to wellness and I am passionate about leisure and recreation. In my spare time, I love exploring the many trails in the Prince George area with my dog, Juno. However, focusing on your well-being doesn’t have to stop when you get to work. We spend a lot of time at our work place. Here are some things that I try to make a priority for keeping well at work. 1. Pack a lunch and eat it too: Bringing food from home tends to be the healthier and the most costeffective option. And don’t forget to eat it! The only way to give yourself the energy to perform your job effectively is to actually eat the food. 2. Take the stairs: Take any opportunity to get yourself moving during the day. 3. Get a good night’s sleep: I know this one’s easier said than done, but try to make it a priority. When Netflix asks if you want to continue watching… click “No.” It will set you up for a much better work day. Your body will thank you! 4. Make a list: Managing your time and prioritizing tasks helps reduce workload stress. Take a deep breath while you’re at it!
5. Have a laugh: Professional boundaries are important, but so is being yourself. Get to know those around you. If you’re in a helping profession, get to know the individuals you’re working with. Sharing an inside joke does wonderful things for the therapeutic relationship! Smiling and laughing can be contagious but that’s okay, it’s good for you! 6. Balance: Leisure is defined as time free from obligation, an activity that is freely chosen and as a state of mind. Engaging in meaningful recreation and leisure activities in your personal life has the ability to improve overall well-being, which will spill over into your work life as well. Wellness is a dynamic process that encompasses body, mind, and spirit. I challenge all of you to set an achievable wellness at work goal this spring, because a healthier you leads to a healthier work environment! SPRING 2018
LARA FREDERICK SHOWS US HOW TO CRAFT UP WELLNESS! Lara Frederick, NE Program Lead – Public Health Practice, Northern Health
Almost two years ago, I embarked on a transition from a front line registered nurse to that of a nurse manager. I remember the anxiety I felt knowing that there would be other nurses reporting to me and relying on my leadership skills. This anxiety was an experience I was not familiar with, and I wanted to ensure I could transform these feelings into something positive. I wanted to do well, and I wanted to feel well.
I’ve enjoyed arts and crafts since I was very young and this has continued into my adult years. I enjoy creating cards and scrapbooks, and documenting my personal accomplishments and memories. I took this passion and partnered with an organization that helps others be creative by ensuring their memories are preserved for generations. This side business has helped me encourage wellness in myself and in others through creative activities! I hadn’t ever really considered what I was doing with crafting as a wellness activity until one day, it hit me. I came home from work, tired and overwhelmed, and immediately found myself in my craft room. I was putting my hands to work and my mind to rest through creating and relaxing. The worry and anxiety drifted away as I immersed myself in my creative space. In no time at all, I found myself at peace with the day’s events - relaxed and well again. 10
I often hear people say, “Oh, I’m just not creative.” I firmly believe that it’s not about being creative or not, it’s really about losing yourself in something that makes you feel good. What you create is your own work of art, just for you. There is no right way or wrong way to create; creativity is unique to each person. Once I realized the de-stressing value of leveraging my own creativity, I looked for more ways to incorporate it into my day-to-day routine. One way I’ve started bringing creativity into the workplace is through the simple act of giving thanks. At the end of each work week, I schedule 15 minutes to sit and reflect on the week and all of the successes I’ve seen. I focus on one event or person that changed my week or was particularly helpful. I sit and write them a thank you note which is often one of my homemade created cards! This process helps me remember that ultimately everyone in the workplace is just trying to do their best, and we all deserve a thank you once in a while. This wellness activity helps build stronger relationships and trust with my peers and direct reports. It’s through these simple acts that I am able to focus on wellness, both in my personal and work life, maintain a positive attitude, and keep balanced each day. SPRING 2018
LEAH SMITH RECAPS HER MOVE TO THE NORTHWEST, AND POSITIVE LIFESTYLE CHANGES
Leah Smith, Regional Support Pharmacist, Northern Health
I, like many other healthcare professionals, find taking care of patients to be second nature – it’s just built into who I am. However, when it comes time to taking care of myself, it’s easy for me to neglect my own personal health and well-being. As healthcare professionals, we’re very good at talking the talk. So, why are so many of us unable to walk the walk? This was a question I found myself pondering after 10+ years working as a pharmacist. As a result, I’ve realized we can’t fully look after our patients if we aren’t talking care of ourselves. This revelation has led me to make some big lifestyle changes this past year. It wasn’t overnight that I decided I needed to make changes; in fact, my story spans a decade now. I started out my career in 2007 working as a community pharmacist in the Okanagan, and within a year and a half I found myself in a management position. After five years, I decided I needed a change – life had become too busy and hectic, my stress level was off the charts, and ultimately, I just wasn’t happy. So in 2013, I made the move to Smithers to work for Northern Health (NH). It was a huge move, but I did it for the lifestyle and the opportunities that northern living brings. Since working for NH, I’ve been fortunate to gain experience working in several different roles. I currently have a unique position; my job title is Regional Remote Pharmacist. This means I help cover sites across the region, all the way from Prince Rupert to Dawson Creek! It certainly has its challenges, but I feel lucky that I get to work with so many different individuals across the north. With this vast repertoire of experience, one of the common themes I continue to realize is that looking after one’s health doesn’t just happen; it takes work and practice to make good lifestyle choices. 12
Healthy Eating Our diet is often one of the first things to overlook. With a busy, unpredictable workload, I would often grab things to eat that were easy and quick. These were never whole foods; most often, they were processed and certainly not well balanced. I now try to always have healthy snacks available, and make an effort to think about the food I have around my house, and the choices I make related to eating.
I don’t deprive myself, and I still enjoy special treats and more extravagant meals here and there; it’s just all in moderation. If I’m going to allow myself to overindulge, I plan some sort of extra activity in my day to make up for this special occasion, which brings me to the next big change I made! Physical Activity I always thought of myself as an active person because I enjoy the outdoors. I love hiking, biking, fishing, skiing, snowshoeing - really anything that gets me outside. But the reality is, doing these activities once a week doesn’t fulfill our physical activity requirements. Being a weekend warrior doesn’t mean you can take the week off in between and expect to be in peak shape. So, I recently adopted a 12-week workout challenge, which I now do four times a week! I have a very busy schedule, so in order for me to be successful and stick with it, the workouts were designed to be targeted and short enough that I can complete them during my lunch hour. At seven weeks into the program, I can confidently say that I see and feel big changes in both my health and appearance. This experience has certainly laid the groundwork for incorporating a regular exercise routine into my life!
Mental Wellness Although the change in diet and exercise have been wonderful, I couldn’t do either if I wasn’t mentally healthy. If I’m not in a healthy frame of mind, the last thing I want to do is exercise and I definitely don’t reach for an apple. For me, the best source of mental strength and balance is in spending time with friends and getting outside to enjoy the fresh air with my four-and-a-half year old German Shorthaired Pointer, Sage. True friends always have a way of allowing us to show up and be who we truly are, without fear of judgment or recourse. Social engagements with them, whether it’s an activity or meal, is an essential part of keeping me connected and grounded. My dog keeps me motivated to get out - whether I feel like it or not! We love to go out cross-country skiing in the winter and camping has become our favourite summer pastime, ideally next to a river where we love to fish! I love watching Sage’s enthusiasm when we are out, and more importantly, I love the peace and serenity I feel when I’m standing next to a river, skiing through the snow-capped evergreens, or gazing into a campfire. These places are where I feel the best, and where I go after a busy, hard day at work. These experiences and activities keep my body, and mind, healthy.
BUSY JOBS AND BUSY LIVES SOMETIMES MAKE FOR AN UPHILL BATTLE. RAINA FUMERTON SHARES HER SIMPLE STRATEGIES TO TURN THE TABLES ON WORKPLACE BURNOUT. Raina Fumerton, Medical Health Officer, Northern Health
Physician burnout is a relatively common experience in BC and elsewhere. Life at work, and outside of work can be busy, chaotic, and stressful. It can, at times, feel overwhelming. I won’t pretend that I’ve got everything “figured out” or that I don’t have episodes of regression/remission to unhealthy habits, but I can share some strategies that have helped me to move in a healthier direction. As much as possible, stay positive. I know this sounds corny, but it’s true. It’s also hard to do and takes active effort (for me anyway). There are times, usually when I’m tired, when I tend to move to a negative outlook instead of a positive one. However, in my experience, cynicism can be very destructive and can lead to even more feelings of disempowerment and frustration, and can also be quite contagious. It’s been helpful to me to be aware of this tendency towards negativity, actively acknowledge it without judgment, and then trying to take a more compassionate and positive approach. Trying to see things from a different point of view and finding new opportunities from what might initially have felt like a failure can also be helpful. Make realistic goals every day. Accomplishing small but realistic goals each day gives me the energy and motivation to stick with some of the longer term goals and projects I have on the go. 14
Be kind to myself and to others. A safe and respectful workplace is a culture that allows me to thrive. No matter the setting, saying thank you and showing gratitude to others for the many things that they do is a great way to ensure that I contribute to a positive and healthy environment that enables myself (and others) to thrive, both in the workplace and beyond. As a public health physician, I work on issues that can be quite controversial and divisive. As such, not having an expectation of myself to make everybody happy is also helpful. I take positions and make decisions based on public health ethics and on evidence; I have learned to accept that while people may disagree with me, I hope that they can respect and appreciate my process. Posture. Sit up straight or stand up! I spend a lot of time at a desk and in front of a computer and am fortunate to have a sit-stand desk, which allows me some diversity/flexibility. I find when I pay attention to my posture, it has positive effects on me, both physically and mentally. Exercise. I am not a morning person, and quite frankly I am not easily pulled away from the comfort of my home in the evenings either! However, I am lucky to have a workplace that is within walking distance from my home and a fabulous local fitness studio that hosts lunchtime exercise classes. I find incorporating exercise into my daily commute (e.g. walking to work) and/or daily lunchtime regime is far more effective than trying to find time in the early mornings or evenings, particularly now that I have children. The lunchtime classes really energize me at a critical juncture in the day which enables me to be more productive in the afternoon. Spend time with my son (and soon to arrive baby daughter). Admittedly this can go both ways (there are definitely times where one’s children can affect one’s life balance in a negative way as well!). However, in general and overall, I experience a lot of joy in allowing myself to engage in his playful and curious ways and exploring the world through his eyes. He has the absolute best and most infectious (and therapeutic) laugh I’ve ever heard. Spend time in nature. Living in beautiful northwestern BC, there is no shortage of highly accessible, stunning outdoor adventures and escapes to be enjoyed. I am fortunate to have a wide range of options at my fingertips for all four seasons. I try to make a purposeful effort to get outdoors every day, even if it’s just for a short walk, on my own, or with friends or family.
MAKING EFFORTS INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF WORK TO ACHIEVE PRESENCE AND BALANCE Sandra Galletti, NRMHST Clinician / Social Program Officer Supervisor, Northern Health
Life is challenging. Some moments are amazingly beautiful while others are just tough. This holds true for both our professional and personal lives. As the years pass, I have found it more and more important to ensure that time is taken each day for myself. When your profession revolves around helping others, it can be difficult to consider your own needs. As a mental health clinician, whose job it is to engage with individuals who have experienced multiple traumas, I’ve found it’s imperative to be fully present while working. To do that, I need to be mindful that I do take that time and actively engage in self-care. If I make time and engage in self-care, I’m better suited to manage my own emotional responses and maintain a therapeutic connection. Over time, I’ve incorporated a few rituals and routines into my workday that support my ability to be present for people I’m trying to help. During my work day, I read an affirmation from one of the three sets of inspirational cards that I keep nearby. I have a small dish of chocolate covered coffee beans and ginger near my workstation. The “feel good” Wednesday yoga class offered through the Northern Health Wellness program has become a part of my work week. I snack on whole, fresh foods at work, and when time allows I go for a brisk walk or a run during my break! I also have a bird feeder hanging outside my window and when birds appear I can’t help but take a moment and smile. I try to utilize these same practices outside of work. Physical activity, healthy eating, spending time in nature, gardening, and practicing mindfulness are all very important to me. Also, I enjoy working on special projects with my other half in the shop; my latest project was a house bed for our two-year-old granddaughter. Sharing time with my grandchildren is definitely a feel good thing that keeps me recharged! 16
For myself, healthy living is about balance. I’m grateful I’ve found this in my personal life with my other half, and at work with my mentor and team lead. If I could give any advice for someone seeking that sort of balance, here’s what I’d say: Be present in the moment; sleep well; get active; take time to appreciate the moments that are enjoyable; and allow yourself to feel what you need to feel when the moments are painful. And, above all, remember that tomorrow is a new day and it will be different than today!
MORE INFORMATION During a particularly stressful time in my life, I discovered The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, written by Don Miguel Ruiz. The book is based on principles inspired from the Toltec culture, aimed at creating the conditions for love and happiness in your life. The principles are: 1. Be impeccable with your word. 2. Don’t take anything personally. 3. Don’t make assumptions. 4. Always do your best. The principles are challenging to put to work, but attempting to do so has generated an unmatched level of personal satisfaction for me. The lessons have reinforced my belief that when faced with stress, problems, and difficult situations, the way that we react is based on our attitudes and ourselves, not anyone else.
BREAKING DOWN THE WELLNESS PIE, ONE SLICE AT A TIME
Robbie Pozer, Communications Advisor, Northern Health
How does someone in the world of medicine and healthcare manage their own wellness? I think many people just assume, “Hey, she’s a doctor, she must be healthy – she’s so involved in supporting wellness that it must be just easy!” The fact is, it’s not that easy. Yes, doctors help patients with their health every day, from stitches to prescriptions and everything in between, but the reality is often overlooked. They are people too! They’re individuals who, like everyone else, need their own wellness and support systems, inside and outside the busy healthcare system. This past month, I had a chance to speak with Dr. Susan Knoll, a family practitioner in Prince George, someone who, among many other wonderful traits, has incorporated wellness throughout her life. Here’s her story. What did your road to practicing medicine look like? Helping people has always been a passion of mine, and when I was in high school I enjoyed biology and physics. Truthfully, my mother suggested medicine and got me thinking it might be possible. If you were pointed in the sciences direction out of grade school when I grew up, the choices were a little more limited than they are now! I completed my two year pre-medical and my full medical program at the University of Saskatoon, and then went on to residency for a year each in Saskatoon and Regina. Once my residency finished, I moved to La Ronge, Saskatchewan, a town of 5,000 people, where I spent nine wonderful years! What inspires your personal wellness? Wellness for me comes down to what I preach to 18
my patients. Life is a pie, and each piece represents an important component. Each slice needs to be addressed or the pie will have a hole. These are my life’s seven pie pieces: Family. My relationship with my husband Garry is key. Having medicine in common, we’ve been able to provide each other with support inside and outside of work. Other common interests allow us to do lots together outside of work too! One of these is our family, and now grandkids, who live down the street from us! Faith. Before I attended the University of Saskatoon for pre-med, I attended a year of bible school - my faith has had a large role in my wellness to this day. It’s truly special to be involved in a dedicated community of people who are like-minded, accountable, there for you in the tough times, and celebrate with you in times of achievement. This another thing that Garry and I share. Friends. I’ve got great colleagues and peers. I’ve always believed that, in many ways, successful officepartner relationships are like a marriage. They take effort to maintain - and don’t get in a relationship you don’t think will work! Even though I have amazing friends inside the world of medicine, I’ll admit sometimes this line of work can be overwhelming. It’s important to have friendships with people outside the medical community so you can take a breath, reset, and keep perspective. Continued on page 20
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Exercising. I use a Fitbit! Any encouragement to get up and move is good, but I’ve always thought the more outside the better: cross-country skiing, biking, walking, and gardening are some of my favourites! I don’t always achieve my daily goal, but when I do, I feel much better. Finances. Finances are a major stressor for a lot of people and there is a lot of pressure to live beyond our means. I think the better you manage your money, the less stress it is. Simply said, but not always as easily done! Holidays. We try to always have a holiday planned. It doesn’t necessarily have to be right away, but it gives us something to look forward to! By the time you finish a holiday, I think you should have another one in the works, even if it’s six months away! Change is good. Fulfilling work. I find much joy in my work. We often think of work as a necessary evil, a kind of drudgery. But I think being able to do meaningful work, making the world a better place, and having some positive impact on those around me is important to my sense of wellbeing. If you could pass on one wellness tip to another person, what would you say? Balance. As I tell my patients, moderation is the key. Not too much of anything, but get enough of everything! 20
the tree. If each branch represents a facet of your life, then it’s important to have more than one branch. If something upsetting or challenging at work happens (which can happen in health care!), it’s not your whole life and there are other things in life that balance you out. It doesn’t shake your tree that bad.” I had the opportunity to chat with Christina about life in physio, and how she finds wellness as a professional and as an individual. Here’s what she had to say.
NEW TO THE JOB, NORTHERN HEALTH PHYSIOTHERAPIST CHRISTINA SHARES HER VIEWS ON KEEPING WELL IN THE WORKPLACE Haylee Seiter, Communications Advisor, Northern Health
For Christina Conrad, a newly minted physiotherapist based in Prince George, life and wellness can be thought of like a tree. “It’s important to have lots of different branches on
Tell me about life as a new physiotherapist. I’ve been in my current role for a year and a half at the University Hospital of Northern BC. As a physiotherapist, I’ve worked in many different areas of the hospital. A lot of my day-to-day work involves helping people do the things they need to do daily. Getting out of bed, standing, walking, that kind of thing. It can be very hands-off or very hands-on with someone who is very ill or who has just had a major surgery. What are your thoughts on wellness? I learned during my student years about how not to incorporate wellness into your life. Being a student, you don’t necessarily take conscious breaks and I realized I needed to create space outside of work for myself and not necessarily fill that time with more work. I knew if I were to stay in this type of practice long-term, Continued on page 22
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I’d need to be strong physically. The stats show that young workers are at the highest risk for injury, so it’s important to be conscious of that while working. The way I think of it is you need to strengthen your body outside of work so you can be strong at work. Tell me about a time you had to focus on personal wellness at work. There was a time at work where I was transferring a patient, when I realized that if I was going to do other transfers safely, I needed to be a lot stronger. In my profession we have a lot of equipment to assist so we’re less likely to be injured, but in that moment I 22
realized, wow I need to join a gym! After that experience, I realized that I needed to be well in order to help others. You’re not able to do your job well if you’re not taking care of yourself. How do you incorporate wellness into your work and personal life? At work I wear a pedometer that tracks my steps. If I haven’t met my step goal by lunch, I make a point to go for a walk. Sometimes I’ll walk or bike to work. Outside of work, I like to go running and mountain biking. We’ve got some great places in Prince George! In the winter,
I like to downhill ski, or cross-country ski. I even took lessons this winter! I think living in the north, you have to find ways to enjoy all the seasons. From the physio perspective, there’s a big emphasis on exercise but community and creativity are also important for your wellness. I realized I was lacking creativity in my life so I joined the PG Potters’ Guild. I think it’s important to develop communities outside of work. Do you have any tips for those looking to enhance wellness on or off the job? Wearing a pedometer or smart watch to track my steps has been helpful for me. It helps me measure
my physical activity and gauge how I’m doing that day. Learning how to balance, the skill for separating work from the rest of life, has also been helpful. I knew starting out that if I wanted to be in this profession longterm, I’d have to learn how to balance. When there are challenges at work and you bring it home, it can carry over into the rest of your life. One of the things that helps me avoid this is walking home. For me it’s about a 30-minute walk. It gives me time to debrief and acts like a timer so that when I get home, I can move on with the rest of my day.