Well-being Word

February 25, 2022

The Well-being Word

February 25, 2022

Erin Herrera, CRNA
Erin Herrera, CRNA
Associate Vice-Chair of Well-Being

Did you know that your physical surroundings have an impact on your well-being? The science behind physical environment and well-being continues to grow as more people begin to appreciate the correlation. As many people transition back to communal offices after working from their cozy home, the importance of physical surroundings has become even more apparent!

There are now evidence-based guidelines being used by architects and designers to create spaces that are scientifically proven to improve the health and well-being of occupants. By encompassing the following 10 concepts as they relate to wellness: air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, material, mind, and community, they are able to create spaces conducive to wellness. This wellness then translates to better mental health, better productivity, better outcomes, better retention, and better job satisfaction! It has even been shown that hospitals that prioritize the well-being of employees have lower infection rates! I may be biased, but at the core, the solution to MANY problems is improving the overall well-being, wellness, and health of the people involved.

Here is the kicker though: Many of you, like myself, are reading this very newsletter from inside a windowless, frigid, cramped operating room, ICU or lab. You are sitting on an old stool and realize you haven’t had a drink of water in 5 hours! Sunlight? Haven’t seen it in days! It’s a challenge to find a way that we are meeting ANY of the above 10 wellness-enhancing attributes.

If you are feeling discouraged, or better yet intrigued, I encourage you to read this article about well-being design initiatives that were instituted at a women’s prison in Ohio. While I am in no way asking you to draw a comparison between work and prison, (queue the prison Mike jokes for all the Office fans out there) please read this article to see how some small changes made a large impact in a space.

My challenge to you in the coming days is to look around your physical spaces and find ways to institute some of the scientifically-proven ways to improve your well-being.

Yours in Wellness,


Happy Thank a Resident/Fellow Day!

Check out videos from Dr. Markowitz and Dr. Mitchell on Twitter expressing their gratitude, and if you see a resident or fellow today, be sure to express your thanks for all that they do!

Take care of your physical health and join your colleagues in a new wellness challenge: Spring into Motion! This eight-week challenge aims to boost energy and improve health as you enjoy the benefits of being active.  

Spring into Motion begins March 7 and runs through May 1. Registration is now open, but the last day to register is Friday, March 11.

Save the Date: Upcoming Events

March 9: Our very own Gosia Borchardt, CRNA, will be giving a presentation via Zoom to the Medallion Adventure Club about her successful summit of Mt. Everest. More information to come.

March 10 @ 6-8pm: Well-Versed — A Discussion Club
Do you want to learn more or want to help improve some of our spaces here at WashU? Allison Johnson, the architect who is featured in the above article and designed the prison, will be at our first Well Versed Discussion Club! Come have a glass of wine and a snack, and help us brainstorm ideas to improve our spaces, as well as tips for improving your home environment.

March 20 @ 10am: March Wellness Walk
Shaw Nature Reserve
Come see spring begin to bloom at Shaw Nature reserve! A true hidden gem in St Louis! 

April 9 @ 9am: Kids & Coffee
Chouteau Park 
Come join us for a casual morning of coffee, donuts, and playground action. This fantastic newly renovated park has playground equipment as well as basketball courts for older kiddos. 

May 15 @1pm: Annie Malone Parade
Downtown St. Louis
Celebrate the amazing diversity here in St. Louis by walking with the Department of Anesthesiology in the Annie Malone Parade, the second largest African-American parade in the country! More information to come.

Yale is offering a free course about the science of well-being! Learn more.

Words of Wisdom from Jessica Gold, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

Experiencing Burnout?

In the February Thrive article, Gold opens up about her experience with burnout and tips to help herself (and you) cope during this time of uncertainty.

Here’s a quick overview:

Know your limits and find useful coping mechanisms

Find professional support

Control only what you can

Acknowledge your feelings

Take time for yourself to reduce burnout 

Happiness Hacks

Gold also spoke with Huffington Post and gave seven simple happiness hacks you can do on your morning commute.

Focus on your favourite song

Smell a calming scent

Take a few deep breaths

Catch up with a loved one

Visualize expressing yourself creatively

Listen to a podcast

Prioritise a splurge

Kudos Board

Happy Thank a Resident/Fellow Day! Check out the notes from your colleagues in the Resident Lounge.

Sarah Perez, CRNA, presented at the Assembly of Didactic and Clinical Educators (ADCE) conference about her research on burnout and well-being! Congratulations, Sarah!