Gary Tetz

Seeking an antidote for the stresses of life and long-term care, I’ve been attending yoga lately, slipping out of the office at lunchtime in my sleek yoga garb to writhe and gasp on a rubber mat. I’ll pause a moment for you to dwell on that frightening mental image. 

Here’s what I’m learning, and perhaps why it’s such a refreshing respite from the world we work in. At yoga, you’re always doing it right. You just keep breathing and do your best. If you tried, that’s enough. No penalties. No judgment. You simply show up.

Remind you of anything? I didn’t think so. 

The longer I practice, the more fervently I wish survival in this profession could be more like yoga. Feeling the snapping, foamy jaws of the PDPM (Patient-Driven Panic Model) at your heels? Take some deep, cleansing breaths, and simply accept those fear sensations. No further action required. 

The possibilities for compliance and conflict resolution through yoga are endless. Family member yelling at you? Strike a child’s pose, and stay there until they go away. Payers choosing other providers? Don’t feel bad — you are perfect just as you are. Surveyors dwelling on your faults? They need to recognize the divine in you, and you should tell them so. 

Unfortunately, as reality intrudes, I’m forced to admit that yoga offers only a respite, not a workable model for our profession. We’re dealing with people’s lives, so it’s probably not enough to just show up and try. Certain expectations must be met and standards achieved. 

But maybe we can still make a little yoga-inspired time away from our well-deserved anxieties to mindfully stop, walk and breathe. On a particularly trying day, perhaps a little Shavasana time in a darkened supply closet would even be in order. 

Our long-term care challenges are real and frightening, but yoga could help us greet them as friends, hands to heart center, with a soft and genuine, “Namaste.”

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in Humor Writing in the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) awards program.