It’s common knowledge that the pandemic affected the mental well-being of health care workers, and we know that those effects linger. According to a 2022 report from the Journal of the American Medical Association, even now, long after the height of the crisis, health care workers’ emotional exhaustion is 27% more prevalent than pre-pandemic. That is not a trivial change – just imagine making 27% less income or losing 27% of your physical well-being. The lasting effects of the pandemic on mental health are real, and they are challenging. But a weary health care workforce has reason for some optimism, given the science for recovery and getting back our gumption. Recent studies show us how to reduce health care workers’ emotional exhaustion by engaging in positive psychology exercises for at least 10 days. You may be thinking – what’s the catch, and/or how do I get started?

One thing you can do right now is make an investment in your well-being. Take less than five minutes to enroll to have access to free tools such as: Gratitude Letters, Cultivating Awe, Looking Forward, Positive Emotion Tracking, Mindfulness, Three Funny Things, Sleep Tool, Cultivating Work-life Balance, Cultivating Interest, Cultivating Forgiveness, Cultivating Pride, Cultivating Serenity, Cultivating Inspiration and the One Door Opens/Another Closes tool. Research on the use of these tools, specific to health care workers, has shown a 10-point decrease in emotional exhaustion by engaging in these positive psychology exercises for at least 10 days. Of course, ten days isn’t enough to erase the immense stress health care workers continue to experience. But these improvements in well-being can be seen at the one-, six- and 12-month follow-ups!

And the learnings of how we can better support the mental well-being of health care workers will continue. Every year well-being research builds on the variety, efficacy and accessibility of interventions. Future use of well-being profiles may allow us to tailor specific interventions to the needs of any given workplace or individual. To learn more, you can follow the work of the Duke Center for the Advancement of Well-being Science at Duke Health on LinkedIn, and look at the growing number of options to choose your own well-being adventure.

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