Make time to take care of yourself

On the wall of my doctor’s office hangs a sign that reads “If you don’t make time to exercise you will make time to be sick.”

We all know this is true but as caregivers we don’t always do what we recommend to our patients. When was the last time you went for a walk, swim, bike, hike or run?  It is summer time, do yourself a favor and get out there and exercise. Commit to some form of exercise each day or at least four times per week. You know it is the right thing to do for your mind and body.  You will sleep better, you will feel better and it will make you a better caregiver for our patients and coworkers.

As the leader of a healthcare system people often ask me how to stay healthy and I say exercise, eat right, don’t smoke, see your primary care doctor every year, and practice mindfulness or some other form of stress reduction for at least 15 minutes each day. I don’t always follow that advice, but I do try.

The biggest issue for me is eating right. I just love food and often eat even when I am not hungry just for the gratifying, Thanksgiving-like, mama loves you, feeling it gives. I also constantly eat on the fly or eat to prevent hunger later because I am worried I won’t have time. Of course, these are all very bad practices.salads

Recently I have been eating better thanks to some habits taught to me by our own Judson Brewer, MD, PhD and Chief of the Division of Mindfulness in the Department of Medicine. JAB

Now whenever I am reaching for something to eat Dr. Brewer has coached me to stop and ask myself three questions:

  1. Why am I about to eat this? Is it because I am hungry and need food? Or just because I see or smell something I really enjoy.
  2.  What am I about to eat? Is it junk food or something healthy?
  3. How am I going to eat this (slower and in small portions is much better than just woofing it down)?

I have since taught other people to follow this same advice and have received great feedback.

There are a lot of valuable resources available to help you address your wellness priorities. Many can be found under the wellness section of our Employee Activities and Discounts page.

The State of Massachusetts’ website is another great resource with information about healthy eating, exercising and details on the availability of healthy living programs and activities in your community.

This is a good time to remind you about myHealth Matters, our emmyHealth Matters with tagline for N&V copyployee wellness program. Participating in this program qualifies you to earn points for a $300 Wellness Reimbursement Account deposit. More importantly, it provides many very useful tools and personal challenges to help you improve your health and quality of life. I hope you take advantage of the program.
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On another note I just finished my online Epic training and have registered for the two classroom courses slated for August and September.  The online portion was not time-consuming at all and served to validate my belief that all the work you are doing to get ready for our new enterprise-wide electronic health record  system will pay off.  Just 60-plus days until Go-Live: I can’t wait.

As with most transformations or paradigm shifts, we have to be prepared for some growing pains as we begin our Epic journey. I am confident  we will get through this and once we do, there will be a state-of-the-art system in place to push  UMass Memorial Health Care much closer to being: best place to give care, best place to get care.

Please make sure you sign up for Epic training and thank you for taking great care of our patients and each other,



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