Here’s my question:
How many of you have come to believe, either from a mentor or just…working in the field, that a good way to reduce stress and burnout is to detach yourself from the pain and suffering you see?
That shutting down your emotional attachment, your emotional response…is the best way to protect yourself?
Heck, many of us not in the medical field have come to believe this…
Here’s the thing: research tells us the opposite is true.
There is some amazing new stress research out there and one of the key things that research is telling us is that in fact we don’t want to reduce stress. We want to embrace it.
And, there’s one really unique and cool way healthcare workers can embrace the stress they face that can reduce burnout, reduce feeling emotionally drained, reduce feeling isolated, reduce depression and anxiety, and increase satisfaction with your work.
Want to know what it is?
Instead of shutting down, seeing patients as ‘cases’, instead of turning away from pain…
Increase your deliberate reflection on the profound privilege it is to be the people helping, to be the people who get to relieve the suffering, or to be those closest to bear witness.
You joined the healthcare field for a reason. Somewhere back in the day, I’m guessing this sense of meaning and purpose of work was in that reason.
Why does increasing reflection on your work make a difference? Because the research is clear: a meaningful life is a stressful life. They are inextricably intertwined. Nations with the highest stress index also have the highest levels of well-being. And measures of stress PREDICT sense of meaning.
Stress is an inevitable consequence of engaging in meaningful work and pursuing meaningful goals. When we embrace that…when we deliberately connect meaning to our stress, we can change the impact stress has on us emotionally and physically.
So here’s the brief intervention: Take time to talk with your co-workers or your family about the meaning of your work. Share a hippa compliant story about a profound moment of caring…or a moment where you had a change of perception about a patient. Ask yourself and ask others questions like, “What made that memorable? What did you do that helped in the situation? What did you learn about yourself?”
It’s not a perfect intervention. But it’s something that can absolutely help. If you want more specifics, reach out and I’m happy to help your teams.
This research and so much more can be found in “The Upside of Stress” by Kelly McGonigal.
Hi! I'm Piers. I am an Ultimate player, spouse, parent, and human performance coach. My passion and my profession is to help individuals and teams perform at their best through research-based mental skills, resilience, leadership and team dynamics training.
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