And it’s this dedication that keeps them going, despite the stressors of their jobs. “Working at El Bari is anti-burnout,” Haq said. “It just refuels you.”
Healthcare workers across the US are burned out. More than half of nurses and physicians, 60% of medical students and residents, and 61% to 75% of pharmacists reported having symptoms of burnout in the National Academy of Medicine’s National Plan for Health Workforce Well-Being, which was released in October.
“This has been a trend that started before COVID but gotten much worse after COVID,” said Dr. Victor Dzau, president of the organization. Factors such as the work culture, mental health stigma, administrative workload, demanding hours, and even the lack of diversity in the workforce all contribute toward burnout, he said. This is causing many healthcare workers to leave the profession. Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that over 2% of the healthcare workforce quit every month.
“If you want to get the best patient care, support our patients, we know the doctors and nurses and everybody else should be well taken care of,” Dzau said.
While Haq and Samreen rely on their Islamic faith for their mental health and to fight burnout, not all spirituality-related practices are based in religion. Dr. Uday Nanavaty, pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine specialist based in Maryland, uses yoga and meditation.
“Most of the Western exercises that we do, whether it is running or swimming or hiking, they are all contraction-based,” he said, alluding to how muscles tighten and lengthen during cardio workouts. “Whereas yoga is active relaxation, when you assume a particular posture in yoga called the asana, the entire muscle gets relaxed.”
Healthcare workers should take care of themselves, Nanavaty said, because if the healer is sick, they cannot effectively treat a patient.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, his focus was shifting from critical care to pulmonary and sleep medicine. However, the pandemic upended those plans. Overnight, he became an internist and saw firsthand some of the horrors of the disease; young patients were having heart attacks and rapid respiratory failures.
“Between January of 2020 and August of 2021, in that span of a year and a half of pandemic, in my area, eight pulmonologists left [their] practice,” he said. Some retired early because they did not want to contract COVID, and this put a greater burden on other physicians and respiratory therapists.
Yoga and meditation helped calm Nanavaty during these months of mass death and uncertainty. His day begins with a 10-to15-minute meditation, seated on the ground in a minimally decorated area. He starts by repeating a single word before shifting his focus to just one thought, letting his mind relax. Nanavaty ends with a Sanskrit chant, “Let all be happy, let all be healthy, let all be prosperous and may not suffer.”
Starting his day in this manner, he said, helps “park my mind into a peaceful state.”
While yoga and meditation have helped Nanavaty combat the stressors of working in healthcare, Maurice “Tony” Adkins, a physician assistant in pediatric neurosurgery at Children’s Health of Orange County in California, finds joy and relaxation in music and dance. Adkins said working in his field is like working as a “homicide detective” because you see kids with a slew of neurological injuries, traumas, and congenital disabilities.
3 thoughts on “Healthcare Workers Are Using Spirituality And Mindfulness To Avoid Burnout”
Last year I was in Ibiza, and there I met a man whose style of presentation was very similar to yours. But, unfortunately, that person is very far from the Internet.
On conscience 🙈🙉