Introducing “Practices of the Healthcare Athlete” for all healthcare professionals! But what is that anyway?
Borrowing concepts from many complimentary fields, including competitive sports and business domains, we can learn a lot in the healthcare field about how to be at our best for ourselves and those around us and to do so in a sustainable way that reduces the risk of burnout. Doesn’t that sound almost too good to be true? Isn’t that what we as professionals and our field, in general, are in need of at this moment?
We are well aware of the significant challenges with burnout in the healthcare field. To one degree or another we have all experienced the high stress and demands and, perhaps, even personally felt the impact of burnout. While there are many factors which explain this situation and it is clearly not the fault of the individual, the best way to address the situation for all healthcare professionals is to develop skills and practices that promote health, wellness, wellbeing, and high performance while simultaneously reducing burnout. By emphasizing what we, as individuals, can do, we also optimize our agency and self-efficacy which are cornerstones of the humanistic psychology work of Abraham Maslow and Albert Bandura. In addition, by developing these practices we also create a more sustainable solution to the current issues than would result from relying on others and external factors.
While the concept of the “Healthcare Athlete” may evoke perceptions of competitiveness and a ‘win at all costs’ mentality, this is not the approach of this initiative. Rather, the “Healthcare Athlete” incorporates the principles of mind-body and body-mind practices already widely integrated in competitive sports and business and applies them for the healthcare professional in a way that allows each of us to be the best version of ourselves in all domains of life in a sustainable fashion!
The foundation of these practices is the application of polyvagal theory, developed by Dr. Stephen Porges. Mind mind based skills such as meditation; awareness; attention and mindset training; and others, as well as body based skills such as breath training; nutrition; hydration; and exercise are integrated within the paradigm. The concepts of comprehensive recovery, including psychological, emotional, and physical aspects are emphasized. The principles and practices are all evidence based and real world tested. These practices don’t cause us to lose our edge, rather they allow us to be at our best in any, and all, realms of life.
These are the practices that athletes and business leaders at the very top of their respective crafts practice to achieve their objectives. Inclusion of the crucial strategies of recovery allow high performance to become sustainable. This is particularly important for healthcare professionals given the high demands of providing care to others and the extended duration of our careers. These practices are integrated with technology to not only complement the skills but provide metrics and analysis of the improvements over time and of our current physiological state so that we can appropriately adjust our activities. This paradigm allows us, as individuals, to be at our best, and it also allows us to help others be at their best and do so in a sustainable fashion.
Please join us to develop the “Practices of the Healthcare Athlete” and improve our health, wellness, wellbeing while pursuing sustainable high performance and reducing burnout.