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Proactive approach for keeping burnout at bay

October marks the advent of Halloween. November marks the advent of a season of fellowship with family and friends, sealed with lots of food. December marks the apex of parties, more food, and shopping frenzy.

Now that Halloween is behind us, we don’t need anything else to scare us. To sail through the rest of November and all of December — two nerve-wracking months — with health and spirit intact, I’d like to suggest a positive and proactive approach to heading off burnout.

Burnout is more than just stress; it’s how your mind and your body tell you a change is needed. Do you find yourself withdrawing from work and caring less about results? Are you working harder, often mechanically, or to the point of exhaustion? Just going through the motions? Try these tips for keeping burnout at bay.

Exercise at least three times a week. Running, weight lifting, brisk walking — anything that gets your heart and lungs working — burns off stress. Exercise releases endorphins that boost your mood and it dissipates built-up stress that otherwise leads to burnout.

Make time for a hobby. An art class, cooking, reading, sewing — anything that’s not part of the regular grind and that helps you relax will balance the things that wear you down. With Christmas looming on the horizon, some of the results of your hobby may even make appropriate gifts.

Practice breathing exercises.

“Just breathe.” Yes, it’s an old cliche, but there is a gram of truth behind every cliché. Deep breathing gives your body a boost of oxygen and it releases tension in your abdomen around your heart.

Get away. Take a walk at lunch, and don’t take work home if it can be helped. Leave the office at the office. At home, find a time and place where you can relax and unwind. Even 15 minutes of relaxation can relieve stress.

Laugh. Sometimes it helps to look at a situation and just laugh. If that fails, read the jokes that your uncle’s cousin’s best friend is e-mailing you three times a week. Now that the days are getting shorter and shorter, I’m looking forward to my once a week, on the weekend, movie. It’s a treat for me to get a good foreign film, a big pot of hot water, a comfy throw and simply luxuriate for 90 minutes or longer when it’s cold and black outside. And, by the way, the hot water is for me to drink — not to soak my feet in. This ritual is mindless and suitable only in moderation. Too much and your brain turns into mush. If foreign films are too heavy for you, pick a comedy instead.

Burnout can creep up on you slowly. Watch for the warning signs and stay ahead of it so you can keep healthy through the holiday season.

Turkey Trot

The Pagosa Springs Pirate cross country team and the Pagosa Lakes Swim Club — the Porpoises — will host the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. The event will start at 10 a.m. from the recreation center parking lot.

The choice is yours: running a five-mile course or walking the two-mile loop. The five-mile run is mostly paved, with some gravel roads and rolling hills. The walk is over pavement and grass, and flat. This event will happen — snow, rain or shine.

Entry fees for early registration are $20 for individuals and a special family rate of $75. The family rate is available to family members of a single household only (with a maximum of five members). Race day registration fees are $35 individual and $85 family. The $20 early race registration fee for an individual participant does not include race T-shirt or water bottle. Those two items are available, at cost, for $5 each.

Last year more than 80 men, women, children and dogs participated in the Turkey Trot. Everyone that participated, and I think the dogs included, went home afterwards and indulged in the traditional Thanksgiving meal, knowing they had done their part in helping the swim team and the Pagosa cross country team. They also were helping themselves by burning some calories before overloading the body with all the delicious traditional Thanksgiving dinner fare.

After the race, there will be a bake sale. Why slave over the desserts when you can just take care of it while you create a caloric deficit. All proceeds from the trot and bake sale will benefit the cross country team and the swim team. We’ve got to keep these kids active and healthy so they can support us (via Social Security payments) in our old, old age. And keep yourself healthy with running or walking so you can live long enough to enjoy your Social Security benefits.

Registration forms for the Turkey Trot are available at the recreation center. Any questions? Call race organizer Joanne Irons at 946-7545.

Recreation center

The recreation center will be closed for Thanksgiving and will reopen on Friday, Nov. 26, so our members can work off the turkey and stuffing.