Rx: A prescription for connection

by Nancy Brook on October 16, 2017

I just got back from a few days away with my kids; three nights on the high seas on the coast of California. I had been wanting to take a cruise vacation and was incredibly fortunate to book a weekend away on the Disney Cruise Line. You may be wondering why I would go to all the trouble, for just a few days. This blog is not going to be FullSizeRender-1about the magic of Disney, if you know me you already know I am a huge fan of all things Disney and the cruise line is no exception. For me, the cruise was about doing something different. It wasn’t a weekend at the beach or a theme park, or any of the activities we usually do as a family. I had something in mind that was different and that I was hoping would be special. Something that would allow us to create some memories we would cherish for a while. And I think this actually fit the bill.

Sailing on a cruise ship means leaving some things behind: land, wifi and along with that some of the stresses of everyday life. Our phones are our constant companions. Emails arrive at any time of day or night, and with that the urge to respond. Our children (in my case, teenagers) are connected by social media; instagram, Facebook and snapchat that keeps them closely involved in everyday life. We know this causes a number of stresses but it is increasingly difficult to disconnect from. Unless you are on a cruise. When we arrived in our cabin, luggage in hand the first thing we did was open the safe. While we didn’t have many valuables with us, we did place our phones in the small box and lock it, because we would not be needing them for the next three days. And just like that our internet access was gone. We were free from all things that required a wifi connection.

You may be wondering if we survived, and the answer is yes we did. We ate dinners together and had great conversations, we played board games and bingo, we listened to music. And we laughed. Until the morning we docked back in San Diego. The safe was opened and the phones were back. Faces looking down, and fingers swiping screens…me included. And while I know and accept that this is part of our lives that is here to stay, it was a wonderful reprieve to have a few days of disconnect. I look forward to doing it again soon.


When Burnout Happens…

by Nancy Brook on September 18, 2017

It’s no secret that those of us who take care of others get tired. And you don’t have to be a medical professional to be part of this elite group; mothers do it every day, without pay. Professional caregivers, family members and counselors. Coaches, clergy, firefighters….the list is long. And we do it, because we are called to do so. Taking care of others is part of our identity, part of our DNA. It is what we do. Until one day we are depleted. Exhausted. Worn out.

Burnout is more than a bad day, though. It is a real phenomenon and common among healthcare professionals and caregivers. It is a syndrome that can affect many aspects of your life, your thoughts, your actions and may very well have physical manifestations as well. Headaches, stomach pains, generalized anxiety or low energy are common symptoms. The feeling of being completely depleted, under appreciated or unable to sleep are not unusual either. Burnout syndrome is a state of emotional and physical exhaustion brought on by excessive and prolonged stress. The interesting part is that while you are experiencing these symptoms, you may not fully understand why.


So many of us recognize when we are tired or feel like we are at the end our our ropes.  Often, we don’t recognize that what we are experiencing is actually burnout. I personally experienced this earlier this year. I knew I was tired, but that was easy to explain. I knew I was juggling many responsibilities, and I knew I was struggling to keep many balls in the air. But I never considered that burnout was a possibility. Being familiar with the symptoms may help each of us more easily identify burnout when it occurs.

So, how do you deal with burnout? First, taking a honest look at the way yoUnknown-1u have been living and working. Evaluating the hours that you spend at work, reviewing your sleep schedule and your diet. Caregiving for others without taking good care of yourself is a prescription that just doesn’t work well long term. Speaking with a counselor, spending a few minutes outdoors in nature, or connecting with a friend can help. Managing self care is not easy, but it is critical. Taking care of ourselves makes a difference, although it does not always come easy to all of us. The old saying “put your oxygen mask on before putting the mask on your children” is true. Without your own health and well being, it is virtually impossible to take care of others with the love and patience we want to. As a trusted mentor once said to me, “Self care is never selfish”.



Family Vacations- and Making Memories

September 4, 2016

When we think about summer, we often think about vacation! So many of us have memories of family vacations from childhood. Whether it involved piling into the family car and driving to the beach, camping or visiting out of town relatives these trips definitely gave us stories to tell- both positive and negative. Being in close quarters for […]

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