Holiday stress tips

Spines are not ordinary or conventional. Tackling a back that has misbehaved for a long time, is structurally damaged and has defied any number of doctors, requires a Chiropractor who is knowledgable, conscientious, committed, passionate about his work... and UNstressed.

Just as a woman can tackle a house and, by sheer force of personality, transform it into a home of beauty, giving it atmosphere and charm, it is demanded every single day that Chiropractors must achieve the impossible, transforming a horrid back into one that is functional.

Instead of using beautiful porcelain and copper vases of hydrangeas or azaleas, and old wooden kists, fine paintings by Pierneef or Scott Ness and other old pieces that she ferrets out of auction houses; a Chiropractor must formulate together all of the knowledge and experience that he or she has acquired over the years and, mostly with gentleness but occasionally with great force, bring it to bear on this recalcitrant back, and compel it to order.

It's no mean achievement because assembling all those treasures in his or her toolbox and by sheer determination and force of personality compel that back to behave is no simple task. Also, he has the task of convincing an often doubting patient that, provided they are prepared to make some changes in their lives, THIS CAN BE FIXED. It probably won't be perfect, but then they already know that, but with their cooperation we can usually get that spine to the place where it ceases to dominate every thought, and ruin their lives.

But for this to happen you need an unstressed Chiropractor. People think that we must be physically exhausted by the end of a day at the Chiropractic Coalface. Not so. We are EMOTIONALLY drained, because that total commitment of one's life force for another person, again and repeated many more times.

Rome wasn't built in a day. Nor is a broken down old back brought to heel in a week, nor is a serious slipped disc causing pain radiating down to the foot, or a life time of debilitating headaches... these challenges require a rested, unstressed and totally committed chiropractor. Anything less will not win with the difficult back, because backs are bastards, and their owners sometimes very stupid!

Bring on holiday stress tips. When doctor did you last take three consecutive weeks holiday?

Holiday stress tips

Glider landing as a way of escaping from stress.

Already your hackles are up. But, but, but... yes, so many buts. How do I know? Because I've been at the Chiropractic Coalface now for thirty years, and it took a burn-out, a collapse in a heap, to bring me to my senses. Unbelievable, but I even got to applying for three jobs outside of chiropractic. How I thank my lucky stars that sanity prevailed, she-who-must-be-obeyed had her way and I took the first proper holiday in years. And returned wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, a different man. But it was close!

Now I regularly go soaring, dig in my garden or find a trout dam; places to contemplate the meaning of life. All work and no play made Dr Bernard Preston a dull boy.

Tips for reducing stress

Week 1

It took me a long time to work out why I, and many of my patients, often got sick on holiday. Holidays were simply a continuation of the work related stress that I was trying to escape.

So, the first 1 to 3 days, get up late, read the newspaper, potter in the garden and play a game of golf. Relax; don't rush to the airport; rather stay at home and get into a mental state where you can now take advantage of that vacation.

That first week inevitably, you simply can't avoid it, will include some reflection on the past year, wondering how Mrs Jones is doing, and is your colleague or locum coping? So think about these things. Some people find they can get them off their minds but jotting them down. Keep a notebook and scribble down your thoughts, and put them to rest.

Have a nap every afternoon; and a short stroll.

Talk to your spouse and the kids. Often we get so wound up at work that we come home unable to bring out the charm that once drew him or her like a moth to candle flame. It may just save your marriage, cause if you don't talk to her, someone else you can be sure will.

Week 2

Week 2 is the period of deep soul rest. You've now managed to leave behind all those thoughts of the clinic and yesteryear, you haven't yet started thinking about next year (that you'll be doing in Week 3), and now you can enjoy some proper ways to manage stress.

Perhaps take a cruise, or hire a cottage at the beach. Is sailing with the kids your thing? Hire a dabchick, or a couple windsurfers for the day.

Eat out. Remember that your spouse is also on holiday. Discover the blessing helping around.

Go for some long walks with the family, and perhaps hire some bikes. Reduce stress with exercise, it works. Lying on the couch all day with the newspaper, in front of the TV is NOT what you need in Week 2. If ever! One of the main causes of stress is lack of exercise.

How to relieve stress? Perhaps some bridge in the evening, or chess with your son. Gin rummy. And when the kids have gone to bed, this is the time for just you and that other special person. Make love, it's one of the best ways to relieve stress, and in fact, lack of quality time for each other is one of the biggest causes of stress.

And of course a good book.

Holiday Stress tip : Take only two weeks, and you miss out on Week 2, the week you get proper rest. You just go from Week 1 to Week 3.

Week 3

This is the week that you'll be thinking forwards to the new year. Plans for expansion, or sizing down perhaps, taking on a partner or an intern. Jot down your ideas in that notebook, and bounce them off your spouse. He or she will love being part of the planning, and that special person you chose is not just a pretty face. They often have some pretty shrewd ideas that you hadn't considered.

This might be a good week to take a three-day hike. Stress effects body, believe you me, and you can reduce stress with exercise. Take your son/ daughter backpacking or skiing, fishing, join a gliding club - get out there with family and friends. Make it a holiday that you will still be talking about in three months time, instead of one that is forgotten the first day back at Saltmines.

Solo practices

If there's one thing I've learnt for sure in thirty years is that a proper three week holiday cannot happen if you are in a solo practice. Well, perhaps if you have a very special locum who can just slip in whilst you are away, but such people are gemstones, and not easy to find.

We can and should learn from the lawyers, accountants and our medical colleagues. Big practices make sense. They reduce the overhead costs, they mean that when the signs of stress start to show, you can take time-out, instead of being compelled to soldier on. Wednesday you can move out to the golf course, and your colleague takes over your office. Down the overheads, up the pleasure of living. Oddly your income won't take a massive dip, because your overhead has dropped by 30%. And if it drops a bit, it's worth it. Drive a smaller car, they are only wheels, and means of getting you about, after all. Status symbols are hard task masters - they demand you stay at the Chiropractic Saltmines month in and month out. Less is more.

How to reduce stress

A splendid idea from that veteran Dr Lee Arnold 

Build a three (or four, or five) doctor clinic, with treatment rooms for two. One of you is always on leave! Imagine that! Work two months, take a month's holiday. Why should only the teachers get it so lucky? Surely one of my best tips for reducing stress. You can make it happen with two or three like-minded colleagues. Win-win.

TIP 1: Spend a couple days working together. Can your techniques harmonise? Can you read each other's handwriting? Do you like the way your colleague practises?

TIP 2:

One huge relief in our multi-doctor practice was when we changed over to a paperless clinic routine. Come in Clinicare. Still using files? Time to make the change, I promise you won't be disappointed. No more dusty X-rays, no more files, no more reports lying around.

Chiropractic coalface or a saltmine

Is your clinic a place of joy and fulfillment, doc? Or has it become sheer drudgery? Discovering ways to manage stress is vital if you are to remain a life-force giving chiropractor. And that's what it takes to conquer a rotten back. If you've lost the will, the sheer determination, "I am going to win with this back"... you know who is the first to recognise it? Your patients. They instinctively can feel it, and jup it won't be long before they stop coming, and your practice will dwindle anyway. Take a break whilst you are at the top. Budget for those three weeks leave, and it may mean a quiet cottage in the country instead of that Caribbean cruise.

Conflict resolution

I once worked for a chiropractor who, I felt, had her boot firmly on my neck. Work related stress. What I eventually realised was that, as I was about to give a cervical adjustment, my mind would be considering her latest jibe. Frankly it was positively dangerous, I could feel my energy levels ebbing, and when my contract had run its course, I moved on.

We tried to resolve things, but a manipulative personality vs a stubborn streak is the proverbial rock and hard place. Ultimately it meant lose-lose. I had a large practice, and I loved my patients, it brought her a good income, me too, but I walked away from it eventually. Work related stress is a killer.

On the other hand, do you have an employee who just isn't pulling his weight? No matter how much you try, you can't get him/her to perform the way you want.

There is some sense in the old adage: Every year give your top workers a big raise and get rid of the dead wood. You're probably doing him/her a favour. They have to realise they can't be passengers for the rest of their lives. It's an important subject addressed in my latest chiropractic book, Stones in my Clog.

Continuing education

I try to get in two or three courses every year. When I think back on the courses where I learnt to treat feet, a carpal tunnel, a frozen shoulder, vertigo, the TMJ ... so many new tools. They kept me alive and vital, and in $ terms repaid themselves very handsomely.

And of course do not schedule your mandantory continuing education courses in your three-weeks leave! Don't begrudge going, there are so many things to be learnt, colleagues to meet; they are refreshing in themselves, but in your holiday!

From the chiropractic coalface

"And how are you today, Mrs Jones?"

"I'm fine. Hardly a headache and it's the marking season when I used to miss a couple days of school every month."

I continued to treat her neck, and at the last moment ventured a "And is everything else okay?" Your shoulder, your foot..."

"Oh, my foot is dreadful, but the doctor says I have arthritis and there's nothing to be done."

"Shall we take a look?" She did have some arthritis, but that wasn't the problem. A simple cuboid subluxation was the cause of all the pain in her foot. After four treatments she couldn't believe that the pain of two years was 50% less...

An extra half dozen treatments, plus a referral of a colleague with foot pain... those courses pay me back in kind, one hundred fold.

Want more HOLIDAY STRESS TIPS? Get to courses to up your energy levels, your skills and the biggest holiday stress tip is solved: Dollars.

Healthy living tips

Despite the fact that Chiropractic has very strong roots in the naturopathic fold, many of the chiropractors I meet don't seem to eat any better than their patients.                             

Retirement sentiments

And lastly a thoughts on that longer vacation. Do I have any holiday stress tips and retirment sentiments? Absolutely. The most dangerous place is what we in Holland call "achter the geraniums". Spending too much time in the lounge (behind the potted geraniums along the windowsill), reading the newspaper, watching the ballgame, drinking too much coffee... is a sure thing. The finest recipe for a very short retirement. The alternative? Read these retirement sentiments.

 Reduce stress with exercise

When the world wearies, and society ceases to satisfy, THERE'S ALWAYS THE GARDEN.

Without a doubt exercise releases those endorphins; it might be the golf course, or physical gardening activities, or whatever turns you on. But do something. And that means turning the television off. Couch potatoes die long before their time.

This is where I recharge my batteries; a mountain of healthy, organic food comes out of this garden.

Building a compost heap and growing green beans is a good way to reduce stress.
Cover of Stones in my Clog.

Do you have some irritating things in the practice that you simply can't avoid? Stones in the proverbial shoe? Or in my case, Stones in my Clog; spending seven years in practice in Holland was a marvellous experience. Not least was learning the lowest ranked person in the economy was expected to take three weeks holiday per year to reduce stress and psychiatric medicines.

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