• Ruth Amos RN JD

Digital Health & the Importance of Self Care

This past week I read about the back to back hospitalizations of Alex Azar, the new US Secretary of Health & Human Services (HHS). My thoughts and prayers are with him for a speedy and healthy recovery. At 50, Mr. Azar is still relatively young, and it got me thinking about the growing importance of self-care in the dizzying world of healthcare these days- especially digital health.

Why single out digital health- aren’t there other troubling issues to address? Indeed there are; however, the digital world is a main driver of care delivery, as well as budgetary and operational decisions these days- very few in healthcare are not affected. We face a tremendous influx of data on a continual basis which overloads the senses in a very stress filled way. It’s enough to make even the healthiest people vulnerable to a myriad of physical and mental ailments.

A helpful blog, Overstimulated and Overwhelmed: Sensory Overload, Anxiety, and Depression, outlines the devastating effects of constant sensory input. Those of us involved in digital health are bombarded with all kinds of data from a variety of sources. To add to this overload, we are no doubt connected as well to the usual suspects in our modern world- personal and professional email, social media sites, television, etc.

At the March HIMSS 2018 meetings in Las Vegas, a favorite vendor that I visited often is not what you might expect- there were no dazzling monitors, VISA gift card drawings, or plush carpet runways. It was the doTERRA booth, managed by Maleika Lacy- a small unassuming spot tucked away near the back that had an amazing display of aromatherapies. Maleika and her team were happy and relaxed, too- always a great selling point. Whenever I started to feel overwhelmed at the vast amount of audio visual stimuli (at least three times a day..), I’d wander back there and take a deep whiff of lavender and orange peppermint oils to calm my body and mind.

Realizing that my digital sphere will only grow as time progresses, I’ve made it a priority to practice what I call deliberate self-care. That is, I schedule time in my (digital) daily calendar to go outside, exercise and smell the roses. The yellow roses at the top of the page are from my backyard. If I get stuck at my laptop or on the phone for extended periods, I uncap the doTERRA free gift sample (FYI- I’m not getting any commissions- just really like the product) and take deep breaths of relaxing aromatherapy until I can get outside. My go to scent is called Energy and Focus- not sure if it’s the best oil they have, but I sure like the name!

I encourage everyone in digital health to deliberately plan some time each and every day to destress- away from the sensory overload that we inevitably encounter. And Mr. Azar, if you’re reading this- that includes you, too! We need to make sure we have healthy, calm bodies and minds before we can truly help others.

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