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 Everyone. It's been a while...but I feel like I have content that I want to share with you all that could be helpful in these crazy times and will hopefully start posting more here. I'm also going to broaden the base of work here - moving out of the on-field Ultimate setting to, well, the whole of life. If you've got people in your life who could use this type of content right now, share it widely. We're all in this together and I want to be here for all of you. Happy reading and keep in touch...virtually.
Resilience Through Emotion
First thing I want you all to do is close or lower your eyes and take one deep breath.
Okay. How many of you did that?
How many of you just kept breathing normally and waited for me to keep talking?
How many of you scoffed or rolled your eyes at me?
Maybe you even thought, “If one more person tells me to breathe…”
My point of this small activity is this: YOU HAVE THE SKILLS. You have the resources. You have the strengths within you already to remain ready and resilient in this challenging time. IT’S ABOUT USING THEM.
One of the things we talk about in resilience research is the idea of “ordinary Magic.” What we mean by that is: Resilient people aren’t special. They didn’t get some lucky mix of genes that made them more resilient than others. More often than not, those who are most resilient have a set of ordinary skills and strengths and the are able to Marshall them – or pull on them, use them – in the moment they’re needed. In that way, resilience sometimes looks like magic. But when we pull back the curtain (with research) what we find is that it’s ordinary skills, strengths, and relationships leveraged in the right moment.
So my first bit for you today is this: YOU ALREADY HAVE IT WITHIN YOU TO NOT JUST SURVIVE THIS, BUT TO THRIVE THROUGH IT. When in doubt, look inside first. What do I already know? What do I already do? What do I have inside me that can help in this moment?
Now, I’ll continue today by noting just a couple areas you might want to tune-into first: Self-Awareness and Self-Regulation. In particular, I want you to tune into – become more self-aware of and improve your regulation of, your emotions.
Because in tight living quarters – think home with spouse and kids for weeks – it is nearly impossible (research supported) to not be affected by the emotions of those around you. We want to build resilience through connection and our emotional state can make or break that.
And even if you’re a single person sheltering in place by yourself, these next emotion awareness and regulation ideas will help you too. Being aware of your own emotions, learning to regulate them will help you stay grounded in the absence of others.
First let me be clear:
Emotional Regulation does not mean not feeling. It doesn’t even mean exerting tight control over what we are feeling. It doesn’t mean banishing negative emotions. Emo Reg starts with giving yourself and those around you the permission to feel ALL emotions – without judgement.
How do we do that?
Two key themes from today:
Hope that was helpful! If you like this content, all of the supporting research and so much more can be found in the book, "Permission to Feel" by Marc Brackett. I highly, highly recommend it!
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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