Stressed Out? Stretch Out!

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Feeling stressed?

Whether you’re searching for a new job, settling into a new role or dealing with the daily challenges of your current position it’s easy to get stressed out about work. A few simple stretches could help you relax and let some of that stress go. We all need a little stress relief on the job, especially if we are serving other people, as many of our Brookdale team members do. Here are some great stretches you can do just about anywhere:

1. Take Deep Breathes – Start by closing your eyes, concentrating only on your breathing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, holding the breath in for as long as you can and waiting as long as you can to inhale. The slower you can breath in and out the better. Slow breathing triggers the relaxation centers of your brain. Do this for at least one minute and up to five minutes. You will feel calm and rested when you are done.
2. Pull on those Arms – Interlace your fingers and extend your arms as far as possible. You can raise your hands above you head, to the side or press down. Sitting or standing works. Hold each stretch for 8-to-12 seconds. Play with your movement. Stretch up, out and down. You can even interlace behind your back and stretch. You’ll be surprised how much tension will leave your shoulders with these stretches.
3. Bend the Back – Sit in a chair and reach down toward your ankles, bending your back like a cat. Then raise your head and arch your back, creating a space between the small of your back and the chair. Do both of these movements three to five times. You’ll feel a release in your back and in your stress.
4. Involve the Legs – Sitting in a chair, lift your leg up and straighten. Point our toes up, hold for a few seconds, then bring them back down. You’ll feel different stretches in various areas of your legs. While standing, put your hands on your hips, lean to each side. You’ll feel the stretch down your side body.

Benefits of stretching regularly:
• Strengthen muscles and joints
• Stress and tension release
• Elevated mood
• Ease pain and stiffness
• Improved circulation
• Improve efficiency
• Clearer thinking

So don’t just be aware of your stress, do what you can to ease it. Take a minute or two to take care of yourself, manage your stress… and stretch it out!

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5 Job Tips Every Occupational Therapist Needs for All Intents and Purposes

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There are a lot of misconceptions as to what an occupational therapist does.  Let’s clear the air.  In the therapy world, we look at the root word occupation a bit more broadly as activities that are purposeful and meaningful to an individual.  Occupational therapy encompasses a large spectrum of holistic therapy treating psychosocial, cognitive, and physical aspects of a person including work, play, leisure and activities of daily living.  In summary, an OT gets people back to doing what they like to do.  Remember it this way: “A physical therapist will teach you to walk. An occupational therapist will help you put on your dancing shoes and dance the night away.”

A Career with Purpose: Keegan McKay

Keegan McKay, self-proclaimed “nerd for occupational therapy” is a life-long learner energized with passion for the field. When this foodie isn’t going to the newest restaurant in town or hanging out with his friends, family or dog Isabella, this dynamic, people-loving, South African native, Texas-bound associate is hard at work as a Healthcare Services Director for Brookdale. Promoted three times since he began his Brookdale journey in 2011, one of his biggest surprises in his new role is his opportunity to impact through educating and training therapists and managers to do their job more effectively, and in turn, improve patient care outcome and quality of life for residents.

One of the biggest reasons I love Brookdale is all the opportunity to grow. If you work hard and prove yourself, you can evolve within the company.

Keegan stresses that if you want to pursue occupational therapy, you have to possess two qualities—compassion and directness. The first quality is something you naturally have.  If you’re going to work with the senior population, for example, you have to care about their stories and use them as a therapeutic tool to help improve your patient’s life. The second quality, being direct, can be developed and is crucial in educating patients on their therapy.  Specifically for senior living, you need a third quality:  patience. Exceptional occupational therapists can juggle all three.

Purpose for You, Too:  Keegan’s 5 Tips

Occupational therapy is an extremely rewarding, flexible, and heavily sought-after profession.  It’s not just treating a symptom or an ailment–it’s about treating the whole person with meaning and purpose.  And while your job description is to bring intent and purpose to others, do the same for your career itself.  Take note of Keegan’s 5 recommendations to becoming a successful OT.

1. Find a Mentor

Observe as many OT settings as possible to find what you prefer. Then, find and use a mentor. If you work for Brookdale, you have a major support network. Take advantage of it.  My mentor was a neurotherapist, who helped me see how creative and fun therapy is but with purpose. It made me realize that it’s a career that combines science with art, psychological with physical, mind with body.

2. Continue Your Education

Immerse yourself in your study and focus on why you’re there. I’d really encourage OTs with a passion for continuing their education and enjoy research to pursue an advanced degree.  We continue to need leaders in our field.  Currently, I’m pursuing my Doctorate of Occupational Therapy at Texas Women’s University and loving it.

3. Connect with your Alma Marter

Especially if your school is local, it’s important that you stay in touch with your university. I teach a guest lecture on different OT topics at TWU and used to interview their candidates for their master’s program to see if they were an appropriate fit for their OT school.

4. Research. Research. Then, use it.

Education shouldn’t stop when you graduate or finish a thesis. Always be researching new field trends and advances. A big focus now is on evidence based practice, so it’s critical you’re able to apply it to what you do every day.

5. Reach outside.

Get as involved as possible with professional organizations. You’ll meet many big advocates for your field who will lobby for us and make sure we can take care of our patients. I’ve been an active member of Texas Occupational Therapist Association (TOTA) and American Occupational Therapist Association (AOTA) since I was first in OT school 7 years ago.

Rewarding Successes

When you get proactive about being the best you can be, success will follow.

You’ll get to experience so many rewarding moments.  One of the biggest highlights of my career was when I was working with a patient, who prior to her stroke was an avid golfer. We worked carefully and strategically on her balance and strength.  One day, as I hung onto her very tightly to make sure she didn’t fall, she played golf for the first time in two years.  Seeing how happy she was, I remember thinking, ‘Gosh, this is so much fun! I can’t believe I get to do this for a living!’

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