As healthcare workers must care and provide for others, their own wellbeing becomes a concern. Roslan et al. (2022) claimed the importance of physicians having mental resiliency in their line of work to overcome mental health challenges, stress, burnout, and other damaging wellbeing concerns. To assist, various interventions were considered to approach how to improve medical professionals’ wellbeing.
Various research indicated the successful outcomes from utilization of HeartMath as an intervention for healthcare workers or in general to improve wellbeing and increase resilience (Buchanan & Reilly, 2019; Clark & Gorton, 2019; Miller & France, 2021).
Considering the general responsibilities of healthcare professionals, the job requires demanding responsibilities toward the patient and their care. Roslan et al. (2022) mentioned the systemic burnout medical professionals endure and examined how resiliency plays a heavy role in helping healthcare workers to continue their efforts long term and overcoming stress. Furthermore, Yates and Masten (2004) suggested that to focus on resiliency as a strength to overcome challenges and build mental power, they highlighted key tenets following the positive psychology theory (as cited by Roslan et al., 2022).
According to Miller and France (2021), HeartMath intervention provides a physiological and psychological way to build resiliency in oneself.
HeartMath involved concepts of deep breathing techniques, monitoring the heart rate variability, and mentally referencing positive experiences to produce and raise coherence and resilience in a person (Miller & France, 2021).
Buchanan and Reilly (2019) described that when medical professionals used HeartMath interventions on themselves or with patients, they had increased positive emotions, resilience, better ability to manage their emotions, reduced stress, raised resilience, and higher job satisfaction.
To practice this intervention, HeartMath, the healthcare workers explained a person regulates their heart rate variability through placing a hand over their chest, taking deep breaths, and emotionally and mentally connecting to something positive (Buchanan & Reilly, 2019).
This could be, for example, referencing experiences being taught by healthcare professionals to their family members or patients to focus on a positive memory or experience in their life while completing the deep breathing (Buchanan & Reilly, 2019).
Clark and Gorton (2019) emphasized that resilience begins with mental strategies that positively address adversity or challenges. HeartMath provides a self-care skill that assists with building professional resilience by helping to “rebalance, rejuvenate, and self-regulate emotions” (p. 691).
Practice by breathing slowly, noticing, and focusing on the heart to evoke change in emotion simultaneously (Clark & Gorton, 2019). To conduct and practice this intervention, a person allows the frontal cortex part of their brain to be engaged which aids in decreasing stress (Clark & Gorton, 2019).
Wellbeing Impacts on Healthcare Professionals
For medical professionals, job satisfaction and high turnover become a consequence of not addressing wellbeing in the healthcare workplace setting (Jutengren et al., 2020).
Clark and Gorton (2019) stated, “Alarmingly, 6,017 participants reported 198,340 incidents of physical and mental well-being issues, with one-third of the nurses expressing intent to leave their current position within the next 12 months. This signified the damage and concerns healthcare organizations must consider to keep their personnel able to be resilient in the job.
Shanefelt et al. (2012) discussed how healthcare professionals have a higher risk of burnout and up to twice as much compared to the general U.S. population (as cited by Neff et al., 2020).
Sexton and Adair (2019) expounded how healthcare workers face burnout, mental health challenges, and emotional exhaustion, and finding an intervention that serves them with little commitment and time to keep improving their wellbeing would be most appropriate for their job responsibilities.
Interventions often required training, time, and increased effort commitment to provide wellbeing improvements for medical workers (Sexton & Adair, 2019).
Evaluation of HeartMath Intervention
Consequently, selecting interventions that consider the audience and tailor to the needs of the employee prove realistic and evidence-based in making positive changes for the healthcare worker’s wellbeing.
Roslan et al. (2022) confirmed resilience as a coping mechanism and skill to overcome adversities faced in the medical setting. With the prevalence of burnout, depression, emotional exhaustion, and several other factors affecting healthcare workers’ wellbeing.
Having a coping skill such as resilience could reduce burnout and build a tolerance to face further challenges (Roslan et al., 2022).
Yates and Masten (2004) explained that to enhance resilience and strength in human life was to rise above adversity epitomizing positive psychology.
Both the history and problems healthcare workers face demand a need for an intervention that increases resilience. Frameworks of positive psychology support resilience, strengths, positive thinking, and skills to promote the best human life. HeartMath makes it possible, a way to truly address the missing component that medical professionals need more especially in the given adversities and heavy responsibilities in their day-to-day work operations. HeartMath provides a self-regulated technique to improve wellness and resilience in one by being connected to the mind-body.
Buchanan, T. M., & Reilly, P. M. (2019). The impact of HeartMath resiliency training on health care providers. Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing, 38(6), 328-336. https://doi.org/10.1097/DCC.0000000000000384
Clark, C. M., & Gorton, K. L. (2019). Cognitive rehearsal, HeartMath, and simulation: An intervention to build resilience and address incivility. The Journal of Nursing Education, 58(12), 690-697. https://doi.org/10.3928/01484834-20191120-03
Jutengren, G., Jaldestad, E., Dellve, L., & Eriksson, A. (2020). The potential importance of social capital and job crafting for work engagement and job satisfaction among health-care employees. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(12), 4272. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124272
Landy, F. J., & Conte, J. M. (2019). Work in the 21st century: An introduction to industrial and organizational psychology (6th ed.). Wiley.
Miller, A., & France, N. E. M. (2021). The influence of HeartMath® on resilience and empowerment in female college athletes. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 39(4), 382-392. https://doi.org/10.1177/0898010120981176
Neff, K. D., Knox, M. C., Long, P., & Gregory, K. (2020). Caring for others without losing yourself: An adaptation of the mindful Self‐Compassion program for healthcare communities. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 76(9), 1543-1562. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.23007
Roslan, N. S., Yusoff, M. S. B., Morgan, K., Ab Razak, A., & Ahmad Shauki, N. I. (2022). What are the common themes of physician resilience? A meta-synthesis of qualitative studies. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(1), 469. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010469
Sexton, J. B., & Adair, K. C. (2019). Forty-five good things: A prospective pilot study of the three good things well-being intervention in the USA for healthcare worker emotional exhaustion, depression, work-life balance, and happiness. BMJ Open, 9(3), e022695-e022695. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2018-022695
Kim Ernst, MSW, LCSWA