A Note from Dr. Kathryn Dundas

I don’t remember where this saying originated from, other than that I had a notepad when I was in elementary school that my mom gave me (or maybe I took it off her desk 🤷🏼‍♀️🤔) that had this cartoon by Sandra Boynton on it: 

Even at 10 years old I took this to heart - and apparently, I needed to, otherwise why would I have snagged it off mom’s desk? 🤷🏼‍♀️

Which brings me to this. We are all currently surrounded by A LOT of turkeys. Some we didn’t realize were turkeys until COVID hit. That goes for us as healthcare workers, but includes everyone and anyone who interacts with others - humans can be turkeys.

So, what do I do to not let these turkeys get me down? Well, you might laugh - my tricks are not for everyone, but I actually found fun in finding my “tricks”.

Waking up early. During COVID I started waking up 30 minutes earlier, even though I was working longer and harder hours, to READ in solitude. And by read, I mean anything not related to work. I’ve found my love of books again, and look forward to having a moment of peace and quiet with my coffee. And no, I am not a morning person, so it was difficult to start. But once I got going, I was hooked.

My most recent trick is, wait for it…..

The rebounder. I take 5 minutes of my day to jump on the rebounder I keep under the stairs, and look like a complete goof ball doing it (and yes, in my scrubs!). I do scissor kicks, twists, jumping jacks, and sometimes the cat tries to join me! All in all, it’s 5 minutes of movement and hilarity, I always end up laughing at some point.

Working on brain games before bed. During COVID, learning about the neurotrophic effects of the virus, plus turning 50 and knowing the increased risk of females for Alzheimer’s, I decided that this was something I needed to do before bed. Some people will gasp that I take my phone to bed, and gasp that I have blue light going - however, I look at it as benefit vs harm. This helps me get my brain “off-line”. It enables my mind to hop off the hamster wheel (created by the turkeys of the day!) and get into the zone. I personally love the app PEAK, and will do the daily workout. It takes about 10 minutes, and sometimes if I need a little extra, I’ll play a solitaire game for speed (yes on my phone). I find that I fall asleep right away, as I’ve derailed any Turkey Effect, and that is worth it for me.

Art. I have an art practice that is my form of meditation. It allows me to reconnect with myself and slow down, my version of self-care and expression. It’s also a great way for me to process my days - it works like a meditation for me. If you aren’t artistic, maybe just have fun and see what you can do? So many things are offered virtually now for instruction. 

Walking. This is a big one for me now. Something low intensity. I’ve given up doing boxing or HITT workouts. Maybe one day I’ll return to it, but right now, my body needs gentleness. It doesn’t need me cranking it up - I’m already cranked. Low-intensity movement helps me to relieve stress from the day, connect with nature, and is made even better when it’s a “walk and talk” with a non-Turkey. I encourage you to take some time for something low intensity and add in a little walking, yoga, or meditation if for you hard intense exercise helps keep you sane!

For those of us in healthcare I focus on these things while working:

At the clinic: Showing appreciation and gratitude in any way I can. Sharing little things like bringing in coffee, sharing funny videos or GIFS (like the above Rebounder) to lighten the mood, or bringing a bit of hilarity into an environment that is so the opposite. Perhaps a video of me on my rebounder would be even better…

With patients: After difficult patients, it can be nice to have a team huddle to keep everyone on track and confirm that we do have value. We stand and we support each other, as those turkeys can be heavy after a while. We try to ensure we have each other's back and do a regroup when needed, a call out of either “What can I do to help you?” or “Hey, we have to turn our energy around” as it starts to get contagious. If we are able to help each other and pull each other up vs push each other down, that is something. Even more so, noticing when one of us is being pushed down and reaching to pull them up. If we don’t have the energy to as we’ve been doing it for far too long, that’s ok too - but voice it. Speak up so someone will hear you, and you may be surprised who will reach out and help pull you up. 

Remember, not everyone is a turkey.

We Got This,

Dr. Kathryn Dundas + The Formation Team

September 22, 2022 — Stephanie Ahlborn