Well-being Word

July 8, 2022

The Well-being Word

July 8, 2022

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

Hello Friends,

You know what brings me so much joy? The new dog park/bar/restaurant Bar K. As far as the eye can see are adorable, amazing, and carefree dogs. All kinds of dogs—running around, sniffing, and living their absolute best life. Their biggest stress? Another dog stealing their tennis ball and the possibility of missing out on a dropped french fry.

The dogs aren’t worried about their inbox, their job, politics, or the nightly news. They are just running around, unapologetically living in the moment.

Sometimes it is important for us all to take a cue from the dogs.

Take a pause, get a cold drink, and do something that makes you outrageously, wildly happy. 

The past several weeks have been emotionally heavy for many of us. It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of worry, anxiety, and stress—especially over things that you cannot control.

When dealing with things that seem out of your control, there are many small actions you can take to help cope.

  1. Look for sources of stress that you can limit. Does watching the news or being on social media cause you more anxiety? Taking conscious, intentional breaks from these activities each day may help reduce your stress level.
  2. Spend time doing things that are meaningful to you! What activities make you feel good and bring you joy? Is it grabbing a coffee with a friend, going for a walk, or playing with a pet? Make time each day, but especially during times of stress, to find and practice activities that bring you happiness.
  3. Use mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises to settle your mind and thoughts.
  4. Reach out if you need help! Identifying and acknowledging your emotions and mindset is an important part of managing stress and anxiety. Talking to a professional or a friend in a safe, trusting space is a good way to find support.

This week I encourage you to use these tips and to think like a dog. Find your pack. Find what makes you happy. Lay in the sun and eat a treat. Allow yourself to take a mental break from the stress and heaviness of the world, and find a few moments of pure, wild, unhinged happiness.

Do you want to join me at Bar K and experience this stress-reducing magic?? Join me and my dog, George, on Sunday, August 7 at Bar K! BYOD (bring your own dog) or just come and visit, no dog required! Learn more >>

Many of us have strong feelings and emotions about the recent Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade. I invite you to join me at Rockwell Beer Garden on Thursday, July 14 at 6 p.m. for an opportunity to share, listen and learn from one another. This will be an informal dialogue, and only collegial discussions will be tolerated.

Yours in wellness, 


Champion’s Corner

This week’s Champion’s Corner features our Residency Wellness Team! These three are tasked with leading wellness initiatives for our residency program this academic year.

Ilesha Shah
My name is Ilesha Shah, and I am originally from Phoenix, Arizona. I did a BA/MD program in New Jersey and then made my way to WashU for residency. My plans for after residency are to pursue a chronic pain fellowship and hopefully have my own practice one day! In my free time, I like to travel with my husband, work out, and cook. 
Parita Jani
My name is Parita Jani and I’m one of the rising CA-1s. I grew up in Atlanta, GA, went to undergrad and medical school at UAB in Birmingham, AL, and couples matched here for residency with my husband (current radiology resident)! 
Sadia Karani

My name is Sadia and I’m also a CA-1. I’m originally from Houston went to medical school at UTSW in Dallas and ended up finally leaving Texas for residency. For me, wellness and self-care are essential and a joint effort in residency between residents and the program. As a wellness chair, I hope to optimize wellness at work and increase inclusivity by celebrating other cultural and religious holidays. 

Residency is tough, and trying to make it better for ourselves and our colleagues has been the main driving force for why we wanted to help lead wellness initiatives. In the next academic year, we hope to work with the GME to create a place for residents to be able to meditate/work out with the convenience of being located on campus. 
Wellness means different things to different people – our goal is to cater to the various facets whether it be ways to unwind individually or decompress as a group.
If you have any other ideas of what might make your resident experience better, please feel free to reach out. We’re always looking for new ideas!

Drs. Shah, Jani and Karani, Residency Wellness Champions 2022-23

Congratulations, Class of 2022!

WashU’s Anesthesiology residency and fellowship classes of 2022 gathered throughout the month of June to celebrate each program’s graduates.

A Day in the Life of Kelsey Arends

Hi, I’m Kelsey! I’m the marketing & communications strategist for the Department of Anesthesiology. I joined WUDA eight months ago from the Danforth Campus and can confidently say it’s the best career choice I’ve ever made — I love it here. Check out a day in my life below!

A Day in the Life: Kelsey Arends
A Day in the Life: Kelsey Arends

6:30 a.m. – My puppy, Willa, nuzzles my face until I wake up to take her outside. I try to get her to lay down for a few extra minutes by rubbing her belly before I decide it’s time to start the day. Who needs an alarm when you have a Willa?

My pup, Willa

Every morning is the exact same —

  • Take Willa outside
  • Fill up her food & water bowl
  • Brush teeth, take meds, skincare routine
  • Heat up some Brownie Baked Squash Oats and pile on a little too much sugar-free cool whip
  • Eat breakfast & do my morning wordle
  • Complete my morning “One Question a Day” journal which is actually really cool — there are 365 questions, but you answer the same question on the same day each year for five years. Today’s question was “What was the last commitment you made?” to which I *lovingly* wrote “planning my sister’s bridal shower.” 
  • Throw in a load of laundry
  • Take Willa for a stroll around Dogtown
Videoshoot in the OR — first time in scrubs!

If I’m going into the office, mornings are a bit more rushed but I try to leave by 7:45 a.m. I live about seven minutes away from the hospital, but I have to make sure I have enough time to get lost in the Link before finally finding my way to the Northwest Tower.

8 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Morning work. I usually separate my days into pre-lunch and post-lunch work to-dos. Today I started by combing through my inbox and looking at “My Tasks” in Asana — the greatest project management tool you’ll ever use. I monitored engagement on WUDA’s social media platforms and created/scheduled content for the next week. Depending on the day, I’ll have a meeting with my boss, Patrick, about the status of various projects. If anything on the website needs to be modified or updated, or if I’m working on a division page or lab page revamp, I’ll do it during the morning chuck of time.  

Paddleboarding in Forest Park

12 p.m. – Lunch time! I heat up whatever I made for dinner last night – today it was buffalo chicken pasta. I’ll check the grass to see if it needs to be watered… maybe water my indoor plants or change a light or vacuum up Willa’s food because she doesn’t know how to eat normally — I’m always walking by something in my house that needs attention so I put it on my “lunchtime” list. The other day I did a lunchtime paddleboard which was lovely!

1 p.m. – 5 p.m. — My “afternoon work” block of time. I’m usually most productive in this window of time because there are fewer distractions. Willa is fast asleep for her afternoon nap, and it’s just me, the couch, and my laptop. This is the time I write —stories for the website, the Well-being Word Newsletter, etc. If I’m working on an article, like the one I’m working on right now for the Perioperative Innovation Center, it’s great to have a large chunk of blocked-off time to do nothing but write. I’ll also use this time to do any one-off requests that come in via email – like updating my spreadsheet for the monthly WUDA featured members spotlight or following up with folks about an upcoming deadline.

Workout time!

5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. – Kelsey time! This is when I workout (I use the Madeline Moves app for strength training and would 100% recommend if you don’t like creating your own programming) or I’ll go for a run, always followed by good stretch. I am training to run 50 half/full marathons in all 50 states — I’ve only done 10, but I’m looking forward to my next one in Philadelphia in November!

If it’s not too hot, I’ll take Willa on another walk with my neighbor and her dog to the school up the street to run around in the fenced playground. Or I’ll just throw balls around the house for her to chase.

My family visiting my grandparents in Florida!

Evenings — I am in the PMBA program at WashU, so I have class on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 6:15-9:15 p.m. On Wednesdays I go to “Dinner Club” at my parent’s condo in Clayton, which is just a time for our family to get together to eat & catch up. (Side note: Maureen is not my mom, but she is the best great aunt a girl could ask for!)

If I’m not in class or with my family, I’ll make dinner (Lillie Eats & Tells is where I get ALL my recipes) and then settle in to prep readings for my next class or work on any projects. Sometimes friends will come over and we’ll prep homework together while watching the Bachelorette or any other fake reality TV show we can find. I barely have any free time in the evenings because of class, and I do a lot of housework and travel on weekends (I just got back from hiking Angels Landing in Zion!), so I try to hang out with other humans as often as I can even if we’re just studying or watching a show.

Hiking Angels Landing in Zion

If I’m not studying, I’m likely doing maid of honor or bridesmaid tasks for upcoming weddings, bachelorette parties, and showers — my family jokes that I’m gonna give Katherine Heigel a run for her money and be “28 dresses” which is funny until it’s true. My next trip is to Laguna Beach next week for my college roommate’s wedding, and then I’ll head to Indianapolis for my older sister’s wedding later this summer!

9:30 p.m. — I’m in bed, reading Colleen Hoover and attempting to escape my never-ending to-do list before the melatonin kicks in and I’m conked out.

Restoring Work-life Balance

We spend a lot of our waking hours at work. When those hours get too long, and we begin overworking ourselves, it’s only a matter of time before we burn out. Let’s take care of ourselves instead. Balance work and life with these resources from Calm:

Never let life get so busy that you forget to make a life.

Dolly Parton

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