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Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital Unites Community

Event Willits, CA – Business owners, law enforcement, first responders, hospital leaders and local elected officials got up early Thursday morning, February 2 for the annual prayer breakfast at the Willits Community Center. Coinciding with the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, the gathering’s main theme was uniting the community and asking for blessing and guidance in the face of many challenges both at the local and national level. 

Organized by Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital’s (HMH) Chaplain, Dennis Long and now on its fifth year, the prayer breakfast started in 2012 as a gathering to draw upon the rich faith and diversity of the community as the source of its strength and hope for the future. 

Five local faith leaders offered prayers for unity, the city, state and the nation, home and family and for our first responders. Stephen Lawler, from the Blackfoot/Cherokee tribe offered prayers for unity and burned sage to bless those in attendance. While Stan Caylor from the Seventh-Day Adventist Church prayed for the city, state and nation, asking for unity amidst divisions in light of current events. Brad Branson, First Counselor to the Bishop from the Church of Latter-Day Saints thanked and prayed for those who risk their lives every day protecting the community. Sam Senerchia, Soto Zen Buddhist, asked for blessings for home and family. 

Special guest speaker, David Levy, MD, from UC San Diego shared his insights about addressing burnout. A neurosurgeon and author, Dr. Levy talked about the power of faith, and that most of the time, it’s a matter of “reframing” how one sees things. “What you water, grows. Focusing on your blessings and practicing gratitude is such a positive thing for the mind and relationships,” he explained. “You’ll be surprised how things can turn around just by changing the way we look at things,” he adds. 

Dr. Levy, discussing the topic of burnout said that first responders, healthcare workers and law enforcement members are very susceptible to burnout because they absorb the world’s problems. But Dr. Levy cautioned attendees about the myth of achieving work-life balance, citing a famous quote by former GE CEO Jack Welch who said, “there is no such thing as work-life balance, only work-life choices”. 

Instead, Dr. Levy encouraged everyone to make good choices and focus on filling their “accounts”. “Spend your energies on building up your three accounts: physical energy (sleep, nutrition, exercise) emotional (relationships) and spiritual (finding meaning).” 

“When you’re burned out, you can make ‘withdrawals’ on these accounts and that will keep you going. If your accounts are empty, you can keep going, but it’ll cost you; relationships will suffer, or you will lose sleep or feel emotionally drained and lash out at those you love,” he explained. 

Dr. Levy emphasized the importance of relationships as it relates to combating burnout. “The quality of your relationships is one of the most important things that determine your well-being. Make sure you spend time with friends; not friends on Facebook, but real friends. Turn off those phones and have real conversations and spend time with your kids.” 

In conclusion, Dr. Levy offered one more advice, “We’re so used to celebrating the big things or getting those big joys, like a new car, graduating from college or buying a new house. I call those the ‘$1000 joys’. Those things don’t come often in life, so we need to start looking for $20 joys and start collecting them every day so that by the end of the week, you have $1000 joys in your pocket. Think about the small things, maybe your child said his first word, or you had a great conversation with your coworker, or maybe someone complimented you on something or you got a call from an old friend. Keep collecting those $20 joys, and you’ll be surprised how much better your life will be.”