Self-care Stories Series: Resilience vs Burnout

Welcome back to the last day of our self-care story series. Self-care does not come naturally to all of us. Sometimes it is a journey to learn the importance of self-care. Today, Michelle Calhoun, Corporate Director of Health Information Management/Privacy Officer at Promises Behavioral Health, discusses her journey of setting boundaries to take care of her health and spend time with her family.

Shannon Conklin: How do you personally tackle burnout?

Michelle Calhoun: I’m a person of faith. Praying comes first, but I also do my best to walk every morning before I begin work. When I miss my routine walk, I can feel the difference in my mental wellness.
I have two kids and I make it a priority to step away from work to be with my family. Work-life balance is crucial to strong mental health.

Shannon Conklin:  Can you describe what your job responsibilities are and what your day-to-day looks like?

Michelle Calhoun: My title is Corporate Director of Health Information Management and Privacy Officer. At this organization I mainly certify. And by that, I mean I make sure our EMR system is matching the billing system.
As the privacy officer, I make sure people are releasing information correctly, not releasing certain information, and how to log it in a secure fashion.
It’s also important to earn continuing education credits, as clinicians and physicians do.

Shannon Conklin: Absolutely. Sounds like you honor work/life balance very much.

Michelle Calhoun: Now I do!

Shannon Conklin: Do you mind speaking about that a bit more? It seems like you have had a bit of a journey to come to that realization.

Michelle Calhoun: I’ve worked in medical records now for seventeen years, primarily paper-based records. I have a lot of energy; the older I get, the less I have. I’m noticing this, or I think it’s because I used to be “go, go, go”, thinking that I had something to prove to myself. After all, I had to work hard to get to a director’s position.
Medical records are, in my opinion, a department where people perceive us as paper pushers – which couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re very much on top of things and take extraordinary lengths to ensure correct and precise documentation because it’s the right thing to do. Just think if that was your record. How would you want it to be? How would you want it to be treated?
Later in my career, I realized you can achieve both: a successful career and a fulfilling personal life without having to drain yourself either physically or mentally. Though, it took some bumps to get to that realization. There was a point where I was working long hours and my two children were noticing. One of my children said to me, “You’re always working.” I knew I had to pull back and take care of myself. Because there is more to life than work.

Shannon Conklin: Are there any resources or tips you want to share to help prevent burnout?

Michelle Calhoun: Don’t take away time from your weekends. That time is to be with your loved ones. For me, those are my kids. Everyone deserves a work-life balance.

Shannon Conklin: What does self-care mean to you?

Michelle Calhoun: Self-love. Which for me is exercising, praying, and eating healthy.

Shannon Conklin: What have you implemented in your life that has been a game changer for your mental health?

Michelle Calhoun: Consistent prayer. I was raised in the church and regardless of what I’m going through prayer brings me a sense of peace and calm.
Also, exercising regularly because I do have a lot of energy – and my kids do, too! My mother sometimes says she needs a break from us from time to time!
As a family, we love going to the beach. It is a peaceful way to decompress, relax, and listen to the water. Even though the ocean is a beast, it’s beautiful at the same time.
Finally, finding the balance of eating healthy. And you know it’s okay to eat things that aren’t necessarily good for you, but truly in moderation. I have a sweet tooth, and it’s terrible whenever I just let it go. So, I’m trying to contain that.

Shannon Conklin: What’s your favorite dessert, by the way?

Michelle Calhoun: It would have to be a brownie with chocolate ice cream on it. But I also really love white cake with white icing and chocolate ice cream.

Shannon Conklin: Is there any kind of parting words that you wanted to uh share on this topic, or with other peers in the industry?

Michelle Calhoun: Just take care of yourself. It’s okay to put yourself first. That’s what I’m telling myself. Whatever that looks like for you. For me, it’s those three top things that we talked about. It’s prayer first, taking care of my physical self, and eating right. It’s self-care and self-love.

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