Be Passionate About Your Career

I often think about my career path. The different schools, research, jobs, people, relationships, all led me to do something that I love. Although I was not doing this right out of college, I was teaching about science, so I guess, in a way, I did start out lucky. Being able now to teach about a topic that is near and dear to my heart just makes my job that much better. The beauty of what I do is that I get to solve problems for people. I get to help make their lives better and improve the quality of those in need. Seeing it from beginning to end is so rewarding. I am in love with the theme of this month, BE PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUR CAREER! If you can achieve this, happiness will truly ensue.

 

There are many approaches to assisting in having a "great day". Taking time in the morning to plan your day, using essential oils for a targeted benefit, exercising, something that is just for you. These self- care tools will help you to focus on work because you will have filled...

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Why Do We Always Find a Way to Ignore What We Need?

Why do we always find a way to ignore what we need? We usually fall dead last when it comes to our mental wellbeing. As I contemplate the present, which is the strangest of times, I realize that we do not have the ability to continue on like this unless we want to pay for it with our health. Yes, that is what I said. There is a direct correlation between our mental and physical health. 

I am sure you are familiar with people associating a heart attack or stroke with stress. Well, we are finding out that many other diseases can be started and exacerbated by stress and anxiety. Caring for your mental health can physically make you healthier. So, how do you fit this into an already overloaded schedule?  Simple, you control your day. 
 
You may not think so, but you are the keeper of your actions. We tend to blame other things for ruining our days, or filling them. The hard truth is, we do have control of it. Now, taking control, that can be a challenge. You may...
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Self-Care = Prevention

Let me put a thought in your mind...

"Self-care is a preventative approach."

Typically self-care is in reference to managing stress, dealing with depression and anxiety, lowering agitation, etc. Often it's used when someone is at their wits end, when they are burnt out and looking for a miracle relief, or they are in the throws of mental anguish and looking for relief.

Self-care should not be used when it's too late, when your 'cup is empty'. It should be used on a regular basis with the purpose to prevent such reactions from happening. Therefore, we recommend scheduling your self-care 'sessions' into your daily calendar. Is that 30 minutes when you get up, 15 minutes before you go to bed, or an hour at lunch - we recommend starting with 15 minutes at a time and working your way up to an hour a day. 

You may be saying to yourself, "Girl, you are crazy! I have so much going in my life - work, e-learning with my kids, a husband/wife, a dog, cooking, cleaning - I don't have time...

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Self-Care Promotes Brain Health

Self-care activities are something talked about a lot but often times we preach about using them for others or we recommend others to use them. Well, what about us? We are just as important to that puzzle as the person we are preaching to about using them. 

Picture yourself on an airplane. Before every departure, a flight attendant walks you through the safety features and rules of the airplane. One of those instructions are about the oxygen masks that may drop down if the cabin loses air pressure. The instructions explicitly say, "Secure your mask before securing others." Let's apply that to life, folks!

"If you do not take care of yourself, you will not be able to show up for others," says Dr. Stelter. Self-care activities allow you to replenish, unwind, recharge...all of the above. Popular self-care activities include journaling, using essential oils, exercising, gardening, cooking, deep breathing techniques, and meditation. Which ones help relieve your stress, anxiety,...

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The Power of Coping Skills and Non-pharmacological Techniques

The obvious about using coping tools and non-pharmacological techniques for mood issues or behavioral concerns is that the person receiving these are not faced with experiencing many side effects with the potential to cause more problems when taking medications instead. For example, if I'm anxious and I take an anti-anxiety medication, sure I might feel less anxious, however, I may also become unproductive that day, sleep more than usual, and then feel irritable and even more anxious as it wears off. Reason being, I haven't actually dealt with what caused my anxiety in the first place! Now, in the event the person is taking medications, even reaching for coping tools or the caregiver using non-pharmacological approaches will reduce the amount of or chances for side effects if PRN, or as needed, medication was being used on top of their routine medication regimen.

However, there are two other bonuses to regularly using coping tools and non-pharmacological techniques:

1. It...

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Everyone Wins when Healing Clean

Using non-pharmacological techniques, whether in dementia care, mental health treatment, or practicing self-care, is a step to thinking, feeling, treating, and eventually healing clean. When we heal clean, everyone wins on both sides of those non-pharmacological techniques. How does that happen?

When using non-pharmacological techniques, we have control of what we are doing, when we do it, and how we do it. The 'what' is important to know that the things we are using are healthy for us or with whom we are treating; that we aren't filling our bodies, minds, and brains with toxins, minute killers, carcinogens, or contamination or that we won't have to deal with all these negative side effects. Actually, often times when we use non-pharmacological techniques, there are side benefits to the 'what' we are using. For example, maybe filling out crossword puzzles is stimulating and invigorating, leaving you feeling productive and ready to start the day. But a side benefit is that it is also...

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Clean Faster

What if we told you that you can treat clean faster? This means that non-pharmacological tools can work faster than most as needed, oral medications used to treat anxiety, excessive agitation, and more. 

In long-term care, and most other treating entities, CMS requires that healthcare providers attempt to use non-pharmacological interventions first before giving medications to treat symptoms of dementia and mental health concerns - anxiety, depression, agitation, wandering, repetitive behaviors, hoarding, aggression, and so on. Treating clean in this fashion is a Win, Win! Your organization is in compliance, it helps your 5-star rating and increases your reimbursement, while the resident or patient is not dealing with the negative side effects of these medications, like falls, confusion, irritability, and upset stomach. 

The other advantage is that you can treat clean faster. Did you know that it can take minimally 30 minutes for as needed medications to start working, and...

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Stay Positive

As we all navigate through our "new normal", changes continue as we struggle to stay present and positive. This past week brought a whole new meaning to that for me as a parent to a teenager. Quarantine has meant different changes for each, but this past week created quite a struggle to practice what I preach. 
 
My son's childhood friend committed suicide. An Instagram post stuck out as he scrolled on a lazy Sunday, as most teens are doing early afternoon. His face was awe struck as he reached out for me, like he did when he was little. I had no idea in that moment what a new reality I faced as a mom. A conversation that I had with countless students 20 years ago when I taught high school but not as a mom! I wanted to wish it all away, after all, had we not been discussing the mental state of our children with this quarantine; no school, no sports, no family, no friends....how are they supposed to survive without each other or their outlets?
 
I had a choice. I...
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The Road to Recovery - "Got Tools?"

“It’s going to be ok. I am here for you. You will be at peace. Hail Mary full of grace…” I’m examining her face. She has such a beautiful glow to her skin, as if she aged in reverse in a matter of hours. She appears at peace, but she has shallow breathing. Her mouth open; eyes open but focused on heaven. Although she has had dementia for several years, the coronavirus has chosen her. I wish her life didn’t have to end this way. I rub her hand with my plastic covered thumb as it’s cupped in hers. As she’s passing, there is nothing I can do, as these were her wishes. All of sudden, I wake up drenched in sweat, breathing heavy. Within a few seconds, I realized I was just dreaming, but was I really?

Working with individuals with dementia who have contracted COVID-19 has been rewarding yet incredibly challenging. After a few of these nightmares, I realized quite quickly, I don’t want to go down this road again. I experienced PTSD...

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Practicing Gratitude

Through all the loss that people have experienced recently (loved ones, jobs, money, etc.), at some point, if not frequently, you stop to think about what you're grateful for. Your mind wants to shift gears from being trapped in  the negativity, reaching for something more. 

I've talked in the past about one coping skill in my toolbox is practicing gratitude. Gratitude is a reflection on what you are thankful for, what you can and should appreciate, a moment for you to stop and be in the moment with your thoughts.

Practicing gratitude might look different for you than me, and that's ok. This is how I do it. Every morning, right after I wake up, I write down in my journal 5 things I'm grateful for. I then envision me practicing that gratitude by either thanking someone if that is what I am grateful for or giving back to what I am thankful for. Lastly, I carry out that act sometime that day or week. 

Notice that it's not just about writing it down but actually...

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