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  • Chuck Hulse

Joy in Medicine?

Dr. Ted Epperly raised the spirits of physicians in attendance at the recent Idaho Family Medicine Annual Conference on the Joy of Medicine – Today and Tomorrow. Participants were shown how to recognize signs of burnout and were provided more than a dozen techniques to build resilience to stressful situations.

We have all found ourselves at one time or another feeling frustrated or even angry at a person or situation at work – misplaced words, failure to make progress on a project, missing a financial goal. Did you know that it takes over 6 hours to restore your immune system to a healthy, baseline state after being angry for just 5 minutes? The opposite is also true – 5 minutes of heartfelt appreciation for someone’s work strengthens your immune system for just as long.

As leaders, staff read our state of mind hour by hour, day by day. One of the techniques shared at the Conference was the Inner Balance app from HeartMath Solutions. It sits on your iPhone and provides direct feedback on your level of stress and helps teach you how to transition from stress to calm. Practicing the HeartMath techniques allow you to get into coherence, increasing resilience, focus, and effectiveness. HeartMath defines coherence as “an orderly synchronization of the various systems in the body”… like in the previous example – how your nervous system (showing anger) syncs to your immune system. Improving your level of coherence allows you to build resilience.

The HeartMath Institute has helped us understand the concept of resilience with the following table:

“Harvard Medical School Study of 1,623 heart attack survivors found that when subjects became angry during emotional conflicts, their risk of subsequent heart attacks was more than double that of those who remained calm.[65]

In 1995, Daniel Goleman woke us up to world of Emotional Intelligence with his book by the same name, spawning extensive research into the area of emotional self-regulation, as depicted in the table above. Think of self-regulation as a component of self-mastery. As you strengthen your response to stress, you strengthen those around you and in doing so you raise the bar of organizational performance.

For more information on the HeartMath solution visit their website at

Look for our Joy of Medicine video series later this summer at

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