Vacation envy, or 'How to get your groove back'

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Dr. Eleanor Barbera
Dr. Eleanor Barbera

Perhaps, like me, you've recently had time off from work but the only break on the near horizon is a measly midweek Independence Day.

Or maybe, like a coworker of mine, you've scheduled your summer vacation for the last week of August and you're holding down the fort for your coworkers in the middle of a heat wave, watching others return to work tan, energized and eager to show off their vacation photos.

Or possibly you're just plain tired, exhibiting some of the symptoms below:

1.  Wondering if the work you do really makes a difference.

2.  Feeling overwhelmed by regulatory requirements.

3.  Noticing every unfilled sanitizer dispenser and every chip in the wood veneer furniture.

4.  Wanting to buy gifts for all the elders. (This is both a sign of and a contributor to fatigue)

5.  Considering lying down on one of the resident's beds for an afternoon nap.

If you recognize any of these signs in yourself, it's wise to take note and to take steps toward self-care. Our work is important and the attitude with which we complete our tasks matters. Especially in jobs where we care for others, we need to “fill the well,” as the saying goes, because it's impossible to “pour from an empty cup.”

How to get your groove back

If your vacation break is behind you, or so far ahead that you wonder how you're going to make it, try these ideas to re-energize and add zip to your workday.

1.  Complete your paperwork in a quiet corner of the nursing home patio.

2.  Take up a new hobby or rekindle an interest in an old one. Tennis, anyone?

3.  Take a mental health day, morning, or afternoon. For added mileage, don't tell anyone at all.

4.  Try a new restaurant, a new food or a new recipe. I once bought a few weeks of one of those boxed meal delivery services to shake up my dinner prep routine. It was a fun treat to work with ingredients and recipes I wouldn't have tried on my own.

5.  Go for a walk at lunch.

6.  Dance — at a club or in the living room with the children.

7.  Get in touch with nature, whether it's a hike in the woods, a stroll on the beach or digging in the soil in the backyard.

8.  Plan a night out with an old friend.

9.  Hold outdoor walking meetings. Your colleagues will thank you.

My own personal number 10 took some creativity and not as much cash as you'd think to arrange.

For me, the epitome of summer relaxation is chilling out in a hammock — but I live in a co-op in the city. After extensive (read “obsessive”) research, I purchased a hammock with a collapsible frame that I can quickly set up and take down in the communal backyard.

And now that I've finished my article, it's time for me to go outside for a 20-minute chill break.

Eleanor Feldman Barbera, Ph.D., author of The Savvy Resident's Guide, is an Award of Excellence winner in the Blog Content category of the APEX Awards for Publication Excellence program. She also is the Gold Medalist in the Blog-How To/Tips/Service category of the American Society of Business Publication Editors Midwest Regional competition. A speaker and consultant with over 20 years of experience as a psychologist in long-term care, she maintains her own award-winning website at MyBetterNursingHome.com.

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