Well-being Word

April 14, 2023

The Well-being Word

The tricky thing about self-care
Erin Herrera, CRNA
Erin Herrera, CRNA
Associate Vice-Chair of Well-Being

Hi friends!

Who doesn’t like a quick fix to a problem? Wouldn’t it be amazing if your stress and burnout could be fixed by a simple sound bath, a superfood smoothie, or a really amazing bubble bath?! We are constantly bombarded by internet and TV ads selling us products and techniques to improve our self-care routines, improve our mental health, and reduce our stress. 

While some of these products and techniques do actually help to refresh and restore us temporarily, there is no quick fix or magic trick to improve our well-being. 

WUDA Sound Bath event (4/12/23)

Burnout and stress are layered problems, rooted in systemic causes and external problems. 

While self-care is vitally important, what makes self-care activities truly impactful is understanding the reason WHY certain activities and practices work for you. 

To improve our burnout and stress, we need to take time to reflect on WHAT we need.

  • Setting boundaries—boundaries with your time, your work commitments, your social obligations, how much you give of yourself to others 
  • Make deliberate choices with your time and energy.
  • Dismantle what is not working in your life. 
  • Live a life aligned with your values. 
  • Treat yourself with compassion.
  • Investing in ways to help change systemic problems- like sharing ideas and suggestions and getting involved when you have time and ability. 

The answer to your problems is never going to be someone else telling you what to do. 

When you truly prioritize yourself what does it look like? 

Is it setting boundaries on your time and prioritizing your health to make sure you make it to the gym each day?

Is saying no to a social obligation so that you can spend some quiet time relaxing at home?

Self-care looks different for us all. 

There is not one path to well-being, and there is no destination. We are all constantly changing individuals, and our needs and stressors change too. The important thing is to take the time to pause and reflect on how we feel and what we really need. 

Do you want some resources to help you think about ways to improve your self-care techniques and burnout? Check out these resources below, and be sure to save this “Prevent and Overcome Burnout: A Strengths-Based Guide” for future reference!

Real Self Care

From women’s mental health specialist and New York Times contributor Pooja Lakshmin, MD, comes a long-overdue reckoning with the contradictions of the wellness industry and a paradigm-shifting program for practicing real self-care that will empower, uplift, and maybe even start a revolution.

Be on the lookout soon for a book club event & come join me to discuss this amazing book!

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

This groundbreaking book explains why women experience burnout differently than men – and provides a simple, science-based plan to help women minimize stress, manage emotions, and live a more joyful life.

Mayo Clinic Strategies To Reduce Burnout

12 Actions to Create the Ideal Workplace tells the story of the evolving journey of those in the medical profession. It dwells not on the story of burnout, distress, compassion fatigue, moral injury, and cognitive dissonance but rather on a narrative of hope for professional fulfillment, well-being, joy, and camaraderie.

A Day in the Life of Karishma Bhatia, MD

Check out a day in the life of Karishma Bhatia, MD, a third-year resident with WashU anesthesia. Follow along on her day from early morning to evening as she prepares for cases, participates in lectures & rounds, and practices self-care.

A Day in the Life: Karishma Bhatia

4:30 a.m: Wake up and turn on my coffee-machine. 

5 a.m: Time for a run. Today I ran to forest park, it was a beautiful morning to see the sunrise! I like to spend an hour in the morning working out, or meal prepping, or walking my dog — it helps me feel more prepared for the rest of my day. 

6 a.m: eat breakfast. My recent favorite quick breakfast is frozen blueberries (zapped in the microwave for 1 min), topped with some cottage cheese. It tastes like blueberry cheesecake! 

6:15 a.m: I kiss my dog good-bye and leave for the hospital. 

6:30 a.m: I start setting up my cardiac OR. My case today starts at 8 a.m. I check the vent, draw up drugs, set up the endotracheal tube (we’re doing a double lumen ETT today!). I spike some meds for my infusion line (just some norepinephrine to start with some epi available if needed). I make sure we have a PA catheter available as we will be floating a swan for this case. 

6:45 a.m: Grand rounds start—I Zoom in to the call on my phone and listen. Today we have the Morbidity & Mortality conference. I love M&M conferences because many times the things I learn change my day-to-day practice. 

7:15 a.m: I meet my patient in pre-op and prepare to place an arterial line. 

7:50 a.m: time to roll back and start the case! Today we’re doing a mitral valve repair with a thoracotomy. I intubate, double check the placement of the tube with the bronchoscope, and tape everything in place. Then I get started on the central line. 

8:40 a.m: We’re done placing lines, and it’s time for surgery to start the case!

9:45 a.m: We’re on cardiac bypass! Off to a good start. 

12:30 p.m: My co-resident relieves me for lunch and education. For lunch today I brought spicy cauliflower fried rice with yogurt sauce — yum! 

1 p.m: Education afternoon begins! Today we have lectures on empathy and C compassion by Dr. Ridley, abdominal transplant with Dr. King, and OB emergency simulations with Dr. Liu. 

5 p.m: Time to go home! I look up patients for the next day and call my attending to discuss my anesthetic plan for each case. 

5:45 p.m: Dinner time! Tonight I’m making spicy tofu tacos with fresh tzatziki sauce. I find cooking for myself to be an avenue for stress relief and self-care.

7:00 p.m: I take my dog on a long walk in our neighborhood. The vet recently told my dog he has to lose a little bit of his winter chub, so we’ve been trying to prioritize evening walks. I also like to use these long walks to catch up with friends and family on the phone. 

8 p.m: Time to shower and get ready for bed! Sometimes I will read a book or listen to a podcast while cuddling with my dog in bed. 

Transforming department culture

A collaborative culture is essential to achieving our missions and goals in the Department of Anesthesiology. Culture impacts the well-being and ability to thrive of all members of our community. Over the past few years, leaders have taken on key roles within our department, aspiring to establish and advance programs that build and positively transform our culture.

Anesthesia Tech Week was March 23 – April 1. We’re so thankful for our amazing and talented techs — we couldn’t do what we do without you!

April is National Stress Awareness month

Burnout and stress don’t have to take over your professional and personal lives. There are different approaches you can take to develop healthy coping mechanisms and try preventive measures that’ll positively impact you in the long run. 

Here are some recommendations from Calm, our mental wellness partner, that you can do in a few minutes anytime, anywhere: 

  • 7 Days of Managing Stress — Within a week, you’ll have a robust toolkit for mastering stress—from Creating Balance to Mind-Body Connection
  • 60 Second Reboot — Quickly re-center yourself and ease any tension or anxiety whenever you need it during the day. 
  • Upper Body Stress — Do a few light stretches for your upper body to release any stress that might be still lingering within you.
  • Join one of the Calm App Webinars to learn how to get the most out of your Calm experience and bolster your overall well-being.

We need your help

We are so grateful we are able to offer the Calm App as a benefit department members, and want to know more about your utilization of the app! Please take this BRIEF survey (<3 minutes) which will help us tailer this benefit even more to the needs of our members.


What is a PIA SAFE Champion?

Interested in joining PIA SAFE?

Our spring retreat is April 22, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Check out the PIA SAFE website to learn more! And be sure to click on the link below to read the latest PIA SAFE newsletter.

March Madness

hat a tournament! March never fails to offer surprise upsets and buzzer-beating shots. We hope everyone had fun and maybe learned some names of people in other areas of our Department.

The winners of our WUDAzzzz pool are:

  • 1st Place: Katie Geist (Research)
  • 2nd Place: Christopher Huckstep (CRNA)
  • 3rd Place: Amber Spies (Research)

Winner of the Losers Bracket: Erin Herrera (CRNA)

Spring Biking Event

Join us on April 23 at 1:00 p.m. at Grant’s Trail for an afternoon of biking!

Questions? Email Sarah Jaber

Need a ride? Email Alex Shero