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by Mark Kever
Published on August 22, 2017

At Cerner, we spend a lot of time talking about improving the health of our communities. This makes sense because it’s in our mission statement; to contribute to the systemic improvement of health care delivery and the health of communities. When we put our mission into laymen’s terms, it means that we are working tirelessly to play a part in the improvement of health care overall, and more specifically in our own communities – our families, friends, coworkers, and ourselves. Today I’m not writing to talk about the latest software upgrade, population health, or how Cerner is achieving our mission through interoperability. Today, I’m writing about ourselves, I’m writing about improving the health of you, your team, your friends, and your family.

You’re probably thinking, “exercise, eat natural foods, and avoid sugar…”and those things are very important for your physical health but they don’t cover the complete picture of complete health. The results may vary slightly from study to study but they all point to one growing concern; mental health is a problem for many people. From the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. With an industry that draws people like you who are passionate about health care, it also means that we all tend to work long hours, dedicating ourselves to the mission of helping others. Though that’s a noble cause, it unfortunately leads to us to often forget about ourselves. So what can we do to manage our teams’ and our own increasing stress levels? Proper nutrition and physical activity both play a part, but so does taking some ‘me time’.

When was the last time you took a vacation? Seriously, how long ago was it? For those of you that know me, you know that I’m a huge advocate for travel and work/life balance. Seeing the world and experiencing all it offers is fun! Not only is it fun, but the science shows that it’s also very good for you. Take this study from the Wisconsin Medical Society as an example which found correlation between reduced depression, better sleep, and increased happiness at home with frequency of vacations. In addition to this, we also see that travel boosts creativity and has a bigger impact on happiness than possessions. Take a moment to connect this back to a personal experience. Have you ever been depressed while relaxing on a beach, hearing the waves crashing in? Have you ever been stopped in your tracks and inspired by incredible architecture or a breathtaking view? How about needing to control what seems like an unstoppable urge to just scream “I LOVE THIS FOOOD!!!”? … I love food. Travel makes us less depressed, happier, creative and is more valuable than that next TV you’re thinking about buying. The benefits are clear so what are you waiting for? Get on that plane, train, and/or automobile! Not only this, but spread the word and create a culture around you where it’s encouraged.

So what’s next? If you don’t have one planned in the next six months, book a trip. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, just get away for a bit. Ask your coworkers, friends, and family when their next trip is planned. If they don’t have one, encourage them and help them find the time. Taking a break from work to enjoy life isn’t a luxury, it’s a requirement. Whether you work at Cerner like myself, are in the health care industry, or just trying to make the world a better place it’s important that you don’t forget about yourself. As for me, I’m planning the next adventure now. After all, if I don’t manage to take care of myself how much can I contribute to the systemic improvement of health care delivery and the health of communities?