Wellness - individual

A flourishing team – by Tona Gillen

Tona Gillen Headshot
Tona Gillen – Registered Sick Children Nurse

Can you remember a time when your working day felt like it was filled with boundless opportunities? Does your working day now feel repetitive and tedious?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could somehow re-capture the exuberance, passion and meaning in our work in healthcare?

Resilience has recently become a bit of a platitudinous word for healthcare workers. This is understandable for those who feel that their administration workload is merely being expanded by yet another tick box, online module called ‘Resilience Training’. However, as many of us know, our ability to bounce back (the definition of resilience) is a key component to both surviving and thriving in the workplace. We all experience bad days, days that test our personal resources and can cumulatively lead to fatigue and burnout. Being resilient helps us to maintain a sense of purpose, and persistence to achieve our goals with vitality and passion regardless of the challenges (1,2,7).

To counter the fatigue and possible development of burnout, we could perhaps focus on what it would look like to flourish.

Flourishing is, in fact, a central concept in positive psychology that can be taught and developed.  Flourishing incorporates two dimensions: feeling good and functioning well. The optimal range of flourishing is regarded as the highest state of wellbeing and human development (Cambridge Centre for Health and Wellbeing).  Employees that feel appreciated and acknowledged, and where possible have a sense of autonomy in their workplace, are invariably energetic, dedicated, self-determined, focused and positive, and find meaning and purpose at work (1,2,17,18).

Employee empowerment and engagement ultimately lead to an increase in productivity, motivation and a positive healthy work environment. Job satisfaction has a strong correlation with life satisfaction. Dissatisfied employees are more prone to depression, ill health and ischaemic heart disease.  Meaningful positive engagement in the workplace has both immediate and long-term benefits, such as cognitive and physical longevity. (19,20).

Aristotle believed that happiness depends on ourselves and that it should be the central purpose of our lives both personally and professionally. If individuals are motivated by a belief, with supporting evidence that they are making a difference in the workplace, they will remain invested and loyal to the organisation. Research tells us that grit, determination and perseverance are in direct proportion to workplace satisfaction and happiness (17).

To promote flourishing teams, organisations may need to change their culture, recognise and turn unfavourable situations into great opportunities, provide positive leadership, and enhance education.  We need to celebrate members of the team who meet or exceed expectations. Managers who invest time in their staff will reap the benefits of maximum performance, goals pursued with conviction, and personal and professional wellbeing in their team (7,20,21).

Within our trauma service we try to practice the following five steps every day.

5 tips to flourishing and fulfilment J (The “ABCDE”)

  1. Develop and practice a positive attitude every day – choose an optimistic and positive outlook regardless of the circumstances. Be absorbed and passionate about your work. Demonstrate an appreciation of the small things in life.
  2. Expand your capacity to bounce back, learn to adapt in the face of adversity, stress trauma and tragedy. Be kind to yourself.
  3. Be courageous every day. Be challenged – surround yourself by people that challenge you. Choose to leave a positive imprint in everything you do.
  4. Be determined to be the best version of yourself – every day, in every situation. Set clear directions for your life goals
  5. Be enthused and inspired by the challenges that life throws at you. Elect to notice the good things in your life. Evolve as a person and embrace change.

In our time away from work it is important to find activities that one finds engaging. This can include cycling, walking, gardening, gym, dancing, writing, painting – being absorbed in what you enjoy is sometimes referred to as ‘flow’ or ‘in the zone’ (21). Research tells us that 40% of our wellbeing and happiness is about ‘doing more’ and ‘having less’ – it is a determined by our intentional activities.

Finally, one small change may be to remember at the end of every day to ask yourself ‘what went well – WWW’ today? Make a habit of appreciating the good things in life and be grateful for the small things. Gratitude is intrinsically correlated with happiness and wellbeing (21)

With the use of these simple practices, we may just be able to re-discover the wonder and privilege of working in healthcare.

About Tona Gillen

References

  1.  Figley CR.  Brunner-Routledge; Compassion fatigue as secondary traumatic stress disorder: An overview. Compassion fatigue: Coping with secondary traumatic stress disorder in those who treat the traumatized. New York: 1995. pp. 1–20.
  2. Françoise Mathieu. Compassion Running on Empty:  Compassion Fatigue in Health Professionals Compassion Fatigue Specialist (Published in Rehab & Community Care Medicine, spring 2007).
  3. Harvey Max Chochinov. Dignity and the essence of medicine: The A, B, C, and D of dignity conserving care. BMJ. 2007 Jul 28; 335 (7612): 184–187
  4. Morrison, T. (2007) Emotional intelligence, emotion and social work: context, characteristics complications and contribution. British Journal of Social Work. 37, 245–63.
  5. McDonald, G., Jackson, D., Wilkes, J. and Vickers, M. (2012) A work-based educational intervention to support the development of personal resilience in nurses and midwives. Nurse Education Today. 32, 378–84.
  6. Chen, J-Y. (2010) Problem-based learning: developing resilience in nursing students. Kaohsiung Journal of Medical Sciences. 27, 230–3.
  7. Bonanno, G. A. (2004) Loss, trauma, and human resilience: Have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events? American Psychologist. 59 (1), 20–8.
  8. Buerhaus, P. I., Staiger, D. O., & Auerbach, D. I. (2000). Implications of an aging registered nurse workforce. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 283, 2948-2954.
  9. Potratz, Elizabeth, “Transforming Care at the Bedside: A Model to Promote Staff Nurse Empowerment and Engagement” (2012). Master of Arts in Nursing Theses. Paper 39.
  10. Peter I. Buerhaus, PhD, RN et al. Implications of an Aging Registered Nurse Workforce 2948 JAMA, June 14, 2000—Vol 283, No. 22
  11. Peter I. Buerhaus, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAANP(h); Lucy E. Skinner, BA; David I. Auerbach, PhD; and Douglas O. Staiger, Four Challenges Facing the Nursing Workforce in the United States PhD Journal of Nursing Regulation Volume 8/Issue 2 July 2017
  12. The Social Cure. Identity, Health and well-being – Jolanda Jetten, Catherine Haslam and S Alexander Haslam. Psychology Press. 2012.
  13. Florence Nightingale and Gerard Vallee (Editor) (2003). “passim, see esp Introduction”. Florence Nightingale on Mysticism and Eastern Religions. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. ISBN0-88920-413-6.
  14. Bostridge, Mark. Florence Nightingale: The Making of an Icon. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008.
  15. https://healthtimes.com.au/hub/nursing-careers/ Seabreeze Communications Pty Ltd, ABN: 29 071 328 053 in Australia
  16. Health Workforce Australia 2014: Australia’s Future Health Workforce – Nurses Detailed. Department of Education /uCube Higher Education Statistics.
  17. Aristotle (2000).   The Nicomachean ethics (R. Crisp, Trans.).  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  18. Optimizing well-being: The empirical encounter of two traditions. CLM Keyes, D Shmotkin, CD Ryff Journal of personality and social psychology 82 (6), 1007
  19. Spector, P. (1997). Job Satisfaction: Application, Assessment, Causes and Consequences. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.
  20. Boehm, J. et al. (2011).  A prospective study of positive psychological well-being and coronary heart disease.  Health Psychology, 30, 259-267
  21. Positive Psychology – Bridget Grenville-Cleave UK 2012
  22. Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing. By Fredrickson, Barbara L.,Losada, Marcial F. American Psychologist, Vol 60(7), Oct 2005, 678-686
  23. Diener, E., Wirtz, D., Tov, W., Kim-Prieto, C., Choi, D., Oishi, S., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2009). New measures of well-being: Flourishing and positive and negative feelings. Social Indicators Research, 39, 247-266.

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