For Patrice Tanaka
, having good health first started with wellness – specifically, something that she says gave her joy.
Tanaka, co-chair and chief creative officer at CRT/tanaka, a marketing and public relations firm based in New York City, says her personal health and well-being took a back seat for too long.
For 17 years, her husband suffered a cancerous brain tumor. Tanaka acted as his primary caregiver while at the same time battling breast and ovarian cancer and trying to grow her own business. In 2002, Tanaka started working with an executive coach after feeling “drained and depressed” over the stress of her and her husband’s conditions. That was when Tanaka says she realized that her health needed to be a priority in her life.
“Health is something that we all take advantage of until we get older,” Tanaka says.
In 2002, at age 50, Tanaka began taking ballroom dancing classes despite never having taken a dance lesson before. A year later, her husband died, and that event transformed both her dancing and the rest of her life, she says.
[Ed Note: Tanaka will deliver the luncheon keynote presentation at Dorland Health’s Care Coordination Summit on Sept. 14 in Washington, D.C.]
Her memoir about personal health and wellness, “Becoming Ginger Rogers…How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner and Smarter CEO,” explores Tanaka’s journey of realizing a lifelong dream of dancing like Ginger Rogers while improving her overall well-being.
Tanaka says that while not everyone will want to pursue ballroom dancing, the activity has positive physical and psychological side effects. Dancing can help lower blood pressure, strengthen bones and muscles, and delay the onset of dementia. Tanaka also lost nearly 35 pounds after starting her new hobby. Psychologically, ballroom dancing has helped Tanaka feel good about herself and has contributed to her overall well-being, she says.
The most important lessons Tanaka has learned from ballroom dancing translates to other parts of life, including personal health and wellness. She says dancing has taught her to strive for continual improvement and to accept that failure is just a stepping stone to success.
“Ballroom dancing is really a metaphor for pursuing your joy,” Tanaka says. “It doesn’t matter what the avenue or outlet is.”
For healthcare professionals, Tanaka recommends finding out what that avenue or outlet is on an individual level.
“If you’re someone who takes care of other people, you need to be in the best possible condition yourself,” Tanaka says.
Healthcare professionals are required to consistently provide care at high levels, and doing that starts with the need to address one’s own health and wellness in order to prevent job fatigue, burnout and poor outcomes, both professionally and personally.
As a survivor of breast and ovarian cancer, Tanaka says that a person’s mental and emotional state directly affects the body’s physical health and wellness.
“Health comes down to prevention versus treatment,” Tanaka says. “It would be better if we were all more proactive about our health.”
For people looking to lost weight, stay fit or achieve some other type of wellness goal, Tanaka recommends choosing an activity that’s fun so working out or exercising don’t feel like a chore.
Starting a new hobby or activity can also help you engage in your own health, Tanaka says.
“It challenges you to be fully alert in a way that you don’t always have to be,” she says.