Wellness is defined by the National Wellness Organization as an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence. An approach to life based on the principles of wellness is focused on achieving one’s full potential through the attention to well-being in multiple spheres of life.
“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is only good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others.”
– Parker Palmer
Hettler (2016) has proposed six dimensions of wellness that both serve to prevent the negative symptoms of stress and burnout, but also enhance our quality of life:
- Occupational: Developing satisfaction and finding meaning in one’s work.
- Physical: Engaging in positive health habits including nutrition, exercise, restorative sleep, and regular medical care.
- Social: Building a social support system which can help to sustain us through difficult times and a community to which we can contribute in meaningful ways.
- Intellectual: Seeking paths of continuing life-long learning and to engaging our minds in creative and stimulating ways.
- Emotional: Learning to accept and manage our feelings while maintain positive regard for self and others.
- Spiritual: Seeking meaning and purpose in both daily activities and the larger landscape of our lives; living a life consistent with our values.
Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, or significant sources of stress, such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences (American Psychological Association, 2016)
Veterinary medicine carries with it opportunities for great personal and professional rewards, as well as many sources of potential acute and chronic stress. Honing skills to help us develop our internal resilience is critical in weathering the ups and downs of a career in medicine.
Amit Sood, MD (2013), a professor of internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic, has developed a comprehensive training program to assist medical professionals and others to build the muscles of resilience. This empirically-validated model outlines four domains of resilience: the ability to prevent, withstand and bounce back from adversity, or bending but not breaking.
- Physical Resilience: Maintaining a level of health that allows us to recover quickly from illness or injury.
- Cognitive Resilience: The ability to maintain focus and clarity in the midst of stress, rather than becoming easily overwhelmed.
- Emotional Resilience: Being able to sustain a perspective of positivity and to recover quickly from negative emotions.
- Spiritual Resilience: The ability to preserve our sense of meaning and purpose despite whatever adversities we face.
Sood’s SMART program (Stress Management and Resilience Training) serves as the basis for the wellness programming that is offered to students, faculty and staff at the CVM. See the schedule of upcoming events to learn more, as well as the resources page for more information on SMART training principles.