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Danielle Richardson

Taking a Holistic Approach Can Lead to Better Outcomes for Your Patients. Here’s How …

This approach empowers patients to take an active role in their healthcare.

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THERE IS MORE than meets the eye when it comes to our health and that of our patients. We widely accept that humans consist of a mind, body, and soul, yet oftentimes as doctors we focus only on what we see physically. It’s time to step back and take a holistic approach to patient care, in which we treat patients beyond their physiological needs to improve their overall health and well-being.

Doctors and scientists are beginning to more fully understand the roles genetics and lifestyle play in our health, the interconnected nature of all of our systems, and that mind and spirit do affect the body. Despite these findings, most American patients aren’t receiving holistic care. A holistic approach to medicine involves treating the whole person and considering a patient’s unique needs — mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, culturally, or economically — to provide maximum value.

A holistic approach empowers patients to take an active role in their healthcare. It increases the depth of a provider’s care and can increase self-awareness and self-confidence in patients. When treating your patients, consider how other components may be affecting their eyes and overall health.

Lifestyle

When patients present with new complaints, sometimes a change in lifestyle is the underlying cause. For example, a patient enters your office complaining of new headaches in their 3-month-old glasses with no significant medical history and a stable refraction. Asking the patient about a change in their visual demands such as a new work assignment or new digital devices may reveal the true culprit. Additionally, patients with newly diagnosed chronic health conditions may be experiencing significant lifestyle changes that could adversely affect their ocular health or visual perception. But beyond the eyes, we should talk to our patients about what modifications they’ve made to support their health. Many patients are proud to report the positive eating habits or healthy modifications they have made. Acknowledging their efforts provides reinforcement to continue with their treatment plan.

Stress

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I often talk with my patients about stress. Are they working on a big presentation? Have they taken on more responsibility at home? Stress can manifest in a myriad of ways and when we consider the stress load of our patients, we see them as full human beings. Patients want to relate to their doctors, and sharing coping mechanisms can offer insight and connection. I suggest patients take a break throughout the day, recommit to being active 3-4 times per week, or re-engage in a hobby they’ve let go. This is not only important for patients, but for us as clinicians to keep burnout at bay.

Emotions

When making diagnoses or recommendations, we have to consider the patient’s emotional state. Simply talking with patients about their support system and their fears, and reassuring them, can go a long way.

Dr. Danielle Richardson practices in Houston with Texas State Optical and runs a holistic wellness company, Fierce Clarity. She is a registered yoga teacher and hosts wellness retreats, yoga classes, and pop-up events for busy, professional women to help manage stress and avoid burnout. Follow her on Instagram at @fierceclarity

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Danielle Richardson

Stop Trying to Be Perfect

It’s just making us sick.

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PERFECTIONISM IS THE SISTER of failure, and she keeps many of us stuck and unhappy. Perfectionism takes different forms but is generally defined as a personality trait marked by a person’s striving for perfection, creating unreasonably high standards, and engaging in harsh self-critical analysis. This will sound familiar if you’re an overachieving personality type; perfectionism runs deep in many of us.

Thomas Curran Ph.D., a personality psychologist, and physiologist Andrew Hill published a study showing how perfectionism has increased over time. Their study of over 40,000 American, Canadian, and British college students between 1989 and 2016 showed an increase in levels of perfectionism, affecting males and females equally. They correlate this increase with Western society’s “emphasized competitive individualism” that began en masse in the 1980s.

A 2017 World Health Organization report also showed a record number of young people are suffering from serious depression or anxiety disorders. Curran and Hill postulate this rise is not related to a coddled, emotionally weak generation, but “may stem from the excessive standards that they hold for themselves and the harsh self-punishment they routinely engage in.” In short — perfectionism is making us sick.

The links between modern society and perfectionism are inextricable. Living in the digital age, where everyone and everything has become a “brand,” there is an immense amount of pressure to maintain a perfect appearance. As doctors, we are always striving to appear competent, knowledgeable, and like we have it all together. To overcome perfectionism, we have to be willing to release our rigid ideas of how things are “supposed” to be. We can still strive for excellence while extending ourselves grace to not be perfect. Below are two techniques to help you get started.

Make Peace With Failure

Failure is not a dirty 7-letter word, but rather an opportunity to learn and grow. Failure as a learning exercise is being taken seriously at Columbia University’s Teachers College where a center dedicated to studying failure’s educational purpose, the Education for Persistence and Innovation Center, was recently created. Failure is also a fundamental cornerstone of science, for there are many failed attempts for every successful experiment. This should encourage you to know that it’s OK to fail. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, so don’t be discouraged — get out and shoot!

Try Self-Compassion

Kristin Neff, Ph.D., one of the world’s leading experts on self-compassion, defines it as being kind and understanding instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies and/or personal failings. As a yoga teacher, this is a quality I and my students work to cultivate. It may seem counterintuitive, but treating yourself as you would treat a friend in need is a simple way to exercise self-compassion.
You don’t have to be perfect. Embrace the ups-and-downs and be kind to yourself. Your journey will be far more enjoyable!

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Danielle Richardson

Business Travel is No Reason to Let Your Wellness Suffer

Here are 4 pro tips to keep you on track even when you’re away.

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IT’S THAT TIME of year when the optical industry flocks to New York City for four days of learning and fun at Vision Expo East. Each conference is an opportunity to grow as a professional and connect with like-minded peers … so we sleep less and spend more time networking or socializing over dinner and drinks.

Unfortunately, we often make this trade-off at the expense of our health and wellness. It’s not uncommon to find attendees feeling groggy, tired, and generally unwell by the final day. But it is possible to both have fun and feel your best, even while traveling for work. Here are some pro-tips to set yourself up for success during Vision Expo, or any conference you attend:

Plan Your Meals

Food is fuel. If you don’t want to run on fumes all VEE, planning healthy meals is big. The Javits Center has a few healthy choices (last year there was even a vegan option!) but you may prefer to eat offsite. Don’t scramble when you’re famished, scout nearby eateries beforehand or consider ordering via Seamless to save time and effort. When all else fails, places like CVS and Starbucks have several healthy snack options like almonds, egg bites, and low sugar health bars that can help bridge the gap between meals.

Keep It Moving

Stress is a given when juggling a busy conference schedule. We hardly have a moment to rest between CE classes, exploring the show floor, and nightly networking events. Instead of napping during your downtime, consider squeezing in 20 minutes of movement. A busy schedule can put stress on our adrenal glands causing an increase in cortisol and adrenaline; 20 minutes of mild to moderate aerobic exercise can help to reduce the excess amounts of these hormones in the body and improve mood.

Take a lap around the show floor or wake up a bit earlier for a light workout at your hotel. If you’re looking for group fitness classes, the ClassPass app can aid in finding one that fits within your conference schedule.

Cut What You Can

There are plenty of complimentary drinks and dinners but the key is balance. Evaluate your schedule and identify receptions or events where you plan to indulge. From there, reverse engineer your day and opt out of extra drinks and desserts at your other events. Decreasing your volume of sweets, cocktails, and heavy snacks will help keep your energy high and leave room for the treats you really want. By consciously choosing when and when not to indulge, you’re able to keep yourself accountable without feeling restricted.

Bring Your Boost

Everyone has their unique special sauce to support optimal health— vitamins, supplements, or even your grandmother’s homemade tonic! When traveling, continuing your normal regimen is the best preventative care you can take. If you’re a person who loves a morning smoothie or protein shake, check your local health food store for a travel sized version to bring along. Additionally, unpredictable schedules, increased exposure to germs, and often a weakened immune system all mean you’re more likely to get sick when traveling. Don’t forget to pack your Vitamin C, your favorite tea, or any other necessity to keep yourself comfortable and healthy while on the go.

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Danielle Richardson

4 Ways to Get Back on Track When You’re Feeling Stuck

We all get out of alignment from time to time, but you don’t have to stay that way.

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WE ALL HAVE PERIODS in life that return us to the question of “What’s my purpose?” After dealing with the minutia of everyday life, it becomes easy to lose sight of what lights our inner fire. As our passion fades, so too can our connection to our larger purpose.

We have to remember that purpose is not a singular task, job, or goal. Our purpose is ever evolving and our path to discovery will be non-linear. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American worker will hold 11 jobs before the age of 45. We expect our careers to grow and transform and we should expect the same of our purpose.

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Purpose is something we have to continually refine and redefine. Just as your worldview today differs from your worldview at 18, so will your understanding and interpretation of living with purpose. Your purpose is larger than your career, but it’s important to infuse purpose into what you spend 40+ hours per week doing.

Below are four ways to realign with your purpose when you’re feeling stuck or lack passion.

Focus On The Positive

What are your strengths? What do you do well? What do you like about your job? What impact are you having? Asking these types of questions reframes your mindset and shifts your attention to the positive. You unlock the power of positive thinking by focusing on what is working. The more we focus on positive situations and outcomes, the more likely we are to experience them.

Find Your Why

Why are you doing the job you’re doing? Why are you involved in the organizations you’ve chosen? What motivates you? What values underwrite your life? As cliché as it sounds, the first step to rediscovering your purpose involves connecting with your “Why.” An honest assessment and inventory of your internal motivators will help you gain clarity. Armed with this motivation, a roadmap begins to take form.

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Create Meaning Today

You don’t have to quit your job and move to the Caribbean for a fresh start. You can infuse purpose into where you are currently. Ask yourself: “How can I be of service? How can I have a better attitude?” A daily check-in coupled with focused action can produce a shift in a short amount of time. Working on your purpose in the present is a surefire way to feel re-inspired.

Go Easy on Yourself

Rome wasn’t built in a day. As hard-driving high achievers, many of us also have an internal voice that correctly channeled, pushes us to excel. Conversely, the negative expression of that voice can manifest as a tough inner critic that is impossible to please. As you navigate changes and shift seasons in your life, be kind to yourself. A huge part of the work I do as a yoga teacher focuses on cultivating self-compassion. Allow yourself periods of transition as you redefine your purpose. Celebrate the peaks, but also relax while you’re on your journey.

It’s important to understand that we all get out of alignment from time to time, but you don’t have to stay there. Create time to reassess your purpose, take small intentional steps in the right direction, and cut yourself some slack!

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