By Kristen Wilson, PT, DPT
A few months ago, I was having one of those days.
You know what I mean—the kind where you feel like nothing you are doing is right, the world seems off kilter, and there’s nothing more you want to do than get in your car and drive for hours with no destination in sight. Maybe that’s just me? Certainly, in an organization filled with Type A leaders, there must be a few others out there who share this sentiment with me.
On my way to work that day, in sheer frustration, I called a colleague, a fellow PPS member, because who better to understand my perspective than someone who likely was walking in the same shoes. In the 32-minute invigorating conversation that followed I was introduced to the concept of eudaimonia, a word I had never had the pleasure of meeting before. And for a word geek, this was saying a lot.
My friend shared a study he had recently come across, the basis for a presentation he gave to his team on work-life balance (whatever that is!) that shared that physicians who experienced burnout expressed 50% less stress when they spent at least 20% of their day doing something they loved or enjoyed.1 Twenty percent! Do the math people—in an average eight-hour day that is one hour and 36 minutes of time spent on something enjoyable. Seems feasible right?
In an issue devoted to stress management, it seems pertinent to bring up the concept of eudaimonia and the strategies necessary to achieve it. When you imagine your day, whether performing personal or professional tasks, what are the things you love or loathe? Consider the possibility of crafting a mere one hour and 36 minutes of things you love into your work day. Is it patient care, coaching team members, exercising, balancing the books, a good cup of coffee with a friend, a phone call on the way to work, or reading? The possibilities are endless and all in your control. To reduce your stress, which often seems unmanageable, this concept poses the opportunity we’ve all be looking for: a measurable, tangible way to take control of our stress level. And this brings me great peace.
This month’s issue is rife with other tangible tips to help manage your own and your team’s stress levels. In fact, the complementary articles by Jenna Gourlay/Phil Plisky and Stephanie Weyrauch offer great suggestions for both taking care of the leader and the team. And if you’re looking for a new approach to manage stress in your patients, consider David Henslee’s article “Put Me In, Coach: Get into the Game by Adding Health and Wellness Coaching to Your Practice.” Yes, stress management is a topic that receives a lot of press, but I think you’ll find this issue a special gem, written in a voice that speaks our shared language.
Eudaimonia… is it feasible? Perhaps. Or perhaps it’s a mirage of which we will forever be in search. Regardless, the concept seems settling. If my possibility of reducing stress and moving toward health, happiness, and prosperity can be achieved by merely allocating 20% of each day to things I enjoy, I think it’s a reasonable endeavor. After typing this note, I have 48 minutes to spare. What shall I tackle next? Perhaps a conversation with a friend? A delicious cocktail? Meditation? The possibilities are endless, but in the end, the decision is mine to control. It is our choice to craft our daily experience for success, whether on our own or with a little help from a friend. So fellow PPS members, let’s build a great day, together.
1Shanafelt, et al. Career Fit and Burnout Among Academic Faculty. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2009;169(10):990. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.70