Here are five key practices for cultivating your own wellbeing and nurturing your relationships with colleagues and patients as a health care professional:
When you intentionally have kind and supportive interactions with others, you can encourage a collaborative work environment where successes and failures can be shared and bared together. Bringing a sense of belonging to your workplace could involve intentionally scheduling a time to check in with your colleagues about what is going well, creating a space for shared photos or inspirations for everyone, or engaging in meaningful and playful activities together like deep conversations or a fun treasure hunt.
Simple practices of gratitude do more than just shift our wellbeing and outlook; they can also ignite more kind and altruistic behavior. They can be at the beginning of a meeting or privately with a colleague, and when we receive and acknowledge generosity from others, we are more likely to share that feeling through more acts of kindness. Genuine gratitude goes far beyond just saying “thanks.” It includes a clear description of what you are thankful for and how it helped or supported you.
Researchers are finding a measure of empathy can effectively inform clear-headed, compassionate care. However, there is still the risk of experiencing “empathic distress” when you become overly identified with a patient, but you can protect yourself against this. If you have a friend or colleague whom you trust and feel safe around, engaging in caring and sharing together could help you find ways to continue offering care to others without draining yourself.
When you practice self-compassion, you take a moment of mindfulness to recognize your difficulty and struggle. Just acknowledging your challenge is very powerful on its own. The next step is recognizing you’re not alone in your struggle or suffering and that many people are in the same situation. And finally, you apply some kindness toward yourself: a phrase or word that feels soothing. You can follow these three simple steps any time during the day as you reflect on your challenges.
Meaning and Purpose
Health care has real meaning because it involves helping others in being well, but it can be hidden beneath intense schedules and the demands of electronic medical records. When your own sense of efficacy or value is compromised, hearing about simple feelings of meaning or gratitude from a colleague can provide support and inspiration.
“Five Ways to Protect Your Well-Being as a Health Care Professional,” Eve Ekman, greatergood.berkeley.edu, Dec. 3, 2019.