Welcome Wellness - We are human beings, not 'doings'

By the Department of Psychiatry’s wellness advocate, Dr. Deirdre Conroy:

Workplace wellbeing is now defined by the intersection of three dimensions: the organization, the work, and the individual. Our own personal struggles with burnout and career satisfaction may be related, at least in part, to one or more of these dimensions. When we become burned out, is it a workplace problem or a worker problem? After all, we bring our habits and thought patterns to our workplace interactions.

Some suggest burnout is not an individual issue, but the structure and culture of the workplace. The shifting workplace forced by the pandemic uncovered nuances of a former worker/workplace culture that may not fit in the new home workspace, hybrid office, or clinic.  

Here are some concepts emerging from those that study the evolving workplace:  

Toxic Productivity Culture.  This is a cultural trend defined as an obsession, or addiction, to being productive. This results in one's self-worth being measured by levels of productivity. This predominates in our culture. This often means being “busy” is a valued currency and almost always considered a positive activity.    

Martyr complex.  This is when a person will sacrifice his or her own needs to please others. In the workplace, this may show up as poor boundaries or rarely saying “no.” This complex may be more enculturated especially if you are an individual socialized as a woman.

Are these cultural standards still serving us? In her recent book, Unraveling Faculty Burnout: Pathways to Reckoning and Renewal, Rebecca Pope-Ruark tells her own story and how these factors contributed to burnout as a member of an academic environment. She provides some tips which are revised and abbreviated below:

  • Find purpose. This can be related to work or not. Try to find shared purpose with others.  
      1. Commit to social justice
      2. Connect with your students/patients  
  • Find compassion. Practice self-compassion and compassion for others’ unique needs.     
  • Find connection. Connect to other a deeper level.
  • Question what balance looks like for you/your team. Consider evaluating your or your teams’ workloads and recommend how to make them more fair and equitable.


View all of Dr. Conroy's articles on the Welcome Wellness homepage.