Gary Tetz

I’m all about simplistic solutions to impossible difficulties. Faced with huge challenges like staffing, staffing and staffing, long-term care operators, administrators and clinical leaders are feeling the heat and wilting under it like never before. 

That’s why I’m so delighted to propose a groundbreaking and unorthodox strategy for stress management: eat your veggies.

New research from Edith Cowan University and reported in McKnight’s explored the link between the consumption of fruits and vegetables and mental wellbeing and revealed a 10% reduction in stress levels among those who ate at least 470 grams. The study doesn’t address whether multiplying the dose by ten would solve the problem completely, but it seems clear to me that more grams would definitely be more better. 

I’m particularly receptive to this research, as I’m somewhat infamous for the morning smoothie I create featuring industrial portions of raw broccoli, carrot, collard and heaping sprinklings of turmeric and cayenne pepper, along with a little token fruit to make the whole thing slightly less repulsive. Relationships have been threatened and even destroyed by this creation, and former romantic partners report recurring episodes of PTSD—Post-Traumatic Smoothie Disorder.

Now, I’m no scientist, so please don’t construe anything I’m about to say as valid medical advice. But whenever anxiety is getting the best of you as a long-term care leader, I strongly suggest you skip the Klonopin and head instead for the refrigerator crisper drawer. Follow a meeting about workforce shortages with a heaping plate of raw kale, and just feel the fear subside. The challenge of convincing vaccine hesitant staff to get the shot won’t seem nearly as daunting when served with steamed cabbage and a fistful of parsley. 

I’ve applied this in my own life, and now with this corroborating research, I’m preparing to take it one step further. When I’ve eaten all the cauliflower and parsnips I can and am still feeling anxious, I’m going to keep a bowl of exotic vegetables on my desk where I can easily see and touch them. An artichoke could serve nicely as one of those stress-relieving squeeze balls, and the exertion of repeatedly lifting a large jicama over my head like a kettlebell will help dissipate the toxins.  

Gary Tetz vegetables

Furthermore, as the pressure and stress of the pandemic and its devastating aftermath continue to increase, I’m thinking about scattering vegetable art around my office and apartment. It would range from abstract sculptures carved in zucchini to paintings of Daikon radishes, delicata squash and dandelion greens in the still-life tradition of Caravaggio or Cezanne. I will also start avidly consuming all available vegetable-related media, particularly when delivered by the VeggieTales organization.

Seldom as we confront life’s greatest challenges does a simple solution like this present itself. So as soon as you’re done reviewing your financials and census reports, push aside that shot of Makers Mark and opt instead for a platter of raw rutabaga, followed by a dose of carrot, beet and ginger juice with a clove of raw garlic to cleanse the pallet. 

But just a word of caution: if that vegetable-induced glow of pure positivity lasts more than four hours, you should probably consult your physician.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a two-time national Silver Medalist and three-time regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program, as well as an Award of Excellence honoree in the recent APEX 2020 Awards. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a writer and video producer for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.