Consilium Cares Gets in the Christmas Spirit at North Texas Food Bank

This weekend, Consilium team members (and some of their awesome family members) headed to the North Texas Food Bank in South Dallas to put together nutritious meals for local schoolchildren. From 1-3 p.m., our 16 volunteers were able to help bag 6,250 meals for Dallas-area residents through the Food 4 Kids program.

Statistics from the North Texas Food Bank indicate that 1 in 4 children in North Texas live in food-insecure households, meaning their families at times lack enough food to lead active, healthy lifestyles. Children who receive meals from the food bank often are only guaranteed food at school Monday-Friday and may go hungry on weekends.

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“I felt very humbled leaving the event on Saturday, but there was also a sense of tremendous pride in what we accomplished for kids in our area,” said John Moberly, partner and vice-president at Consilium. “We were told that volunteer numbers drop off after the holidays, so we are very much looking forward to coming back and helping fill that gap in early 2017.”

“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” –1st John 3:17-18

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Holiday Self-Care for Behavioral Health Professionals, Part 2: Get Creative to Preserve Your Sanity

Struggling to find the right work-life-holiday balance? Check out the first post in our series for tips on how medical professionals can prioritize self-care during the Christmas season.

Stressed about holiday obligations and expectations specifically, from gift-buying and meal preparation to playing the part of the flawless host(ess)? At the end of the day, crafting the “perfect” holiday gathering will pale in comparison to enjoying time with your loved ones. Make your Christmas special (and still pull off that beautiful celebration, minus the anxiety) by delegating tasks and incorporating family into some of the preparations that you usually handle alone.

Or, if you are feeling particularly adventurous, get a little creative and shake up your whole holiday routine:

Give in and let Aunt Betty make that “unique” dish she keeps raving about.
If you are usually solely responsible for preparing an extravagant holiday meal for immediate and extended family and friends, request that guests bring their own signature desserts, beverages, or side dishes. Who knows, you may even end up with a new favorite recipe for next year!

Turn holiday shopping into a game.
Cynthia Clinton, LPC, said that Christmas shopping used to be anxiety-provoking for her until her family of six went a little non-traditional one year: “We set a rule that all Christmas presents had to be secondhand, salvaged, or homemade, and it was probably the most fun we have ever had. The kids came up with everything from vintage poodle skirts to already scratched-off (but winning!) lottery tickets, and we didn’t need to spend exorbitant amounts of money to have a happy, hilarious holiday.”

Revive the holiday wonder of your childhood and pay it forward.
Reminisce on all the things that made Christmas so enchanting when you were a child. Was it the sheer beauty of neighborhood decorations, the thought of Santa’s magical evening journey, or perhaps the joy of finding the perfect gift for loved ones? Whatever you most loved years ago, find a way this year to bring your favorite Christmas memories to life for others. This could mean conspiring with friends to finally cross caroling off everyone’s holiday bucket list, or perhaps acting as a “Secret Santa” (beard optional) for a family in need in your community. Whatever direction you choose to go, reigniting the wonder of Christmas in your own life may really be as simple as bringing that old magic to life for others.

However you celebrate this year, we at Consilium would like to wish all of our healthcare providers a happy (and stress-free) holiday season. If you have a clever “holiday hack” not mentioned above, share the wisdom—add it in the comments below! Merry Christmas, from our families to yours.

Want to learn more about locum tenens? Visit the Consilium website to view current opportunities for medical professionals across the country and internal candidates based in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Holiday Self-Care for Behavioral Health Professionals, Part 1: Take Your Own (Expert) Advice

The holiday season, though hopefully a joyous time of fellowship with friends and family, can instead turn into yet another stressor for already-busy healthcare providers. This especially can be the case for psychiatrists, counselors, and other behavioral health specialists, who frequently remain on-call during the holidays in the event a patient is in crisis. As you assist clients with navigating seasonal stressors, how do you ensure that you do not sacrifice your own mental health needs in the process?

We sat down with Cynthia Clinton, LPC, to discuss the importance of prioritizing self-care and maintaining work-life balance during the holiday season.

Healthcare Provider, Helping Professional…and Human Being, Too.

During your time in practice, you have probably worked with a client (or ten) who needed help coping with stress and anxiety, finance-related anxiety, seasonal depression and grief, or feelings of being overwhelmed. Think back on those sessions and try extending to yourself the same compassionate care and patience you provided each of those clients. Clinton recommends first returning to basic, tried-and-true self-care tactics:

  • Maintain (or increase!) healthy behaviors, like engaging in regular physical activity and eating a well-balanced diet. Physical and emotional health are inextricably linked, and many people are quick to discontinue exercise when life gets busier around the holidays. Mental health specialists are not immune from that tendency, she warns, especially when patient loads increase.
  • Specifically schedule time for yourself each day. Whether you use it for journaling, meditation, yoga, or simply peace and quiet, carve out at least 15 minutes a couple times per day to just “be,” without focusing on the needs and demands of patients, children, or bosses. “Give yourself permission to take a short break away from everyone else, even family, to re-center yourself,” Clinton recommends.
  • Set boundaries on your thoughts and leave work at work. Though easier said than done, particularly when a rough case tugs at your heartstrings, you “simply cannot solve everybody’s problems,” Clinton said. “Yes, people are hurting, and it can be hard to stave off your own guilt when you feel compelled to ‘do more.’ But leave those burdens at the office where they belong and be present for yourself and with your family. Only when you adequately care for yourself can you truly provide the best support for your clients.”
  • Use—and cherish— your support network…Stressful though it can be, try to take a step back and enjoy the holiday season for what it is: an opportunity to celebrate with those closest to you. Take time to go see Christmas lights with your children, attend a holiday event with the whole family, volunteer with your church, or plan a special outing with your significant other.
  • …and encourage clients to engage theirs, too. “There will be times when you cannot carry the load for a patient who relies on you as their only source of support,” Clinton said. “Encourage them to access some additional resources and activities to help them satisfy their needs without specifically relying on you for everything. This can be anything from community or religious groups to a new hobby or self-improvement goal, but get them plugged in to additional supports.”

On behalf of everyone here at Consilium, we would like to thank our partnering behavioral health professionals and wish you a wonderful and fulfilling holiday season. You provide necessary mental health care with each assignment you take on, and we are grateful that you trust us to connect you with the next great opportunity to make a difference.