Have you taken the time off you deserve? Your healthy self wants you to

Nov 2, 2023, 6:24 PM | Updated: 6:31 pm

MURRAY — Entrepreneur Heather Beck has made dogs and humans her priority and her passion.

“We’re not just dealing with cogs and widgets. We’re literally dealing with living, breathing creatures,” Beck says.

More than 20 years ago she started K9 Lifeline in Draper. And the work of building a thriving business employing 35 people, brought on long hours and increased stress. COVID-19 brought additional challenges.

“I was pregnant when COVID started,” Beck said. “That was a really challenging time where I wanted to nest and rest and all of sudden, we had the unprecedented stress of trying to maintain my business, maintain my staff.”

To get to a healthier place, Beck came to terms with her own hours. She felt she had to change, so Beck started taking more vacation time. She demanded that her employees do the same. The result, she says, is a healthier boss with healthier employees.

“I had to go through the process of being able to be comfortable with taking time off,” she says. And for her staff. “We want them to understand that they have support. That they can take time off, because mental health is so important,” she said.

Dr. Kelly Woodward’s Office (KSL TV)Studies through the years show that Americans leave staggering amounts of vacation unused. In 2018, 55% of workers reported they didn’t take all their PTO. That’s 65 billion dollars that workers – in essence – donated to their employers. And the American Heart Association regularly warns that chronic stress can cause trouble.

“It’s been well established,” says lifestyle medicine specialist Dr. Kelly Woodward.

He says the result is emotional exhaustion.

“It results in more depression, poor performance, heart trouble, sleep disturbance,” he said.

Woodward is the Medical Director at Intermountain Health’s Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness Center in Park City. He works with patients to recognize the need for work-life balance.

“We invite the issue and identify if there is something that we can help them with,” he said. “And we also have in many of our primary care clinics behavioral health specialists with expertise in that precise thing. Managing your lifestyle, a little bit of mindfulness, a little bit of behavior change.”

Consider time off good for the soul and the heart. Studies link heart disease to overwork and stress. Woodward says there are ways to bring back balance.

“It’s powerful when a company makes it a priority to work with an employee to find a schedule that works,” he said.

Beck has done just that.

“We switched everybody from five days a week to 4 tens or 3 twelves. So, they’re actually able to have more days off a week,” Beck said.

Intermountain Health has five Live Well Centers whose behavioral health specialists will work directly with patients to develop healthy lifestyle choices. To that end, Woodward reminds us all, that now is the time to take time for yourself and your loved ones.

“We have a lot going on through these last couple of months of the year. So, it is a time to reflect on the importance of the holidays coming up. Each person needs to think about what is best for their health, for the mental wellness for their family.”

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Have you taken the time off you deserve? Your healthy self wants you to