Here’s to your health!

Nov 17th, 2011

Greetings!

The “Super Moon” which most of us did not see the other night, because of the rain, seems to me an auspicious start for spring, this wonderful season of renewal. For myself, I’m growing daily more impressed with the skill and dedication of our staff, the appreciation expressed by our patients, and the support given us by our community. With all the progress we’re making, along with the usual challenges, I try to remind our staff that it’s important to stay in healthy balance. That’s what I want to talk about today.

As you probably know, we’ve been on a pretty fast track, the last few months, at Sonoma Valley Hospital. We’ve continually challenged our staff and they’ve responded every time, so much so that at our last Leadership Meeting, I thought it time to talk a little about stress. Since April will be Stress Awareness Month, this is a great time to do some reflection on the topic, so we can work together to stay in balance and maintain our health.

First of all, I love talking about health.  As author of several books on health aimed for children, I have loved bringing the message of health and balance into classrooms, and watching children respond to the very simple “Five Keys to Wellness” I offer them.  I think these Keys of Wellness can be applied to us all. I’d like to share them with you.

The First Key to Wellness is Self-Love. As adults, with complicated lives, we all have a lot on our plates and stress inevitably builds up. Self love is about taking the time to become aware of your current state of health.  You simply take a moment to check in to see if what you are doing brings pride or happiness.  Are you smiling?  If not, why?

When I work with kids in the classroom, we list what makes us happy.  We focus on our thoughts and if we have a negative thought, we learn how quickly we can flip it to be positive.  For instance, I hate vacuuming, but I LOVE a clean house.  Our mental health is clearly a reflection of the importance we place on being kind and loving to ourselves. 

The Second Key to Wellness is Breathing. Most of us are shallow breathers. We don’t really notice the level of our stress and can go for hours without taking a real breath. Did you know that it is physiologically impossible to be stressed while you are diaphragmatically breathing?  When you stop, take a long, deep breath and let it out slowly you take yourself out of “flight or fight” and into a productive state. When I was visiting Merrill Gardens earlier this year, I had the privilege of talking about health with a group of residents.  We practiced a few simple breathing exercises. You should have seen the smiles that broke out on their faces as they exhaled. As I always say, “You’ve just improved your health!” And it’s true.

The Third Key to Wellness is Positive Choices. We choose our environment, the people in our lives, what we do, how much we eat, how much we move and how much we sleep.  Each of these choices has a direct effect on our health.  We all recognize when we make a healthy, positive choice by the way we feel afterword.

We all have complicated lives, and we all enjoy many things, and have many and varied obligations. So the Fourth Key to Wellness is Balance. Discovering this key was a gift to me many years ago.  As a mother of three, a hospital CEO and an over achiever, I tend to over-do.  Attention to balance helps those of us with that tendency.  The balance prescription I follow is to work/serve for no more than 12 hours a day, play for at least an hour each day, rest at least 20 minutes two times during the day and study or try something new to avoid the ruts.  Play is important, even for adults, to maintain health.  And what is play? Play is simply something you do that brings you great joy.

Finally, if all these keys are in place, a mysterious quality (or with the kids we call it the glue) begins to assert itself and that is Trust.  I am most attracted to leaders and friends who display trust in life.  They simply have an attitude of gratitude and they go with the flow.  Challenges don’t throw them off their personal mission.  They have a strong sense of purpose and serve with grace.  This key is truly the most challenging for me. But as I work on all the others, I can feel it grow stronger in my life.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my personal health system.  I often find that if I am feeling tired or stressed, I can take a quick inventory and easily determine which key to use to feel healthy, energetic and productive again.

Till next time,

Kelly Mather

Chief Executive Officer

Sonoma Valley Hospital

Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation