Personal Well-Being for Healthcare Professionals

January 2, 2024
Guest: Keith Jones, MA, BS

Caring for yourself can help you in your role of helping others. Learn strategies to nurture well-being in your daily life, and the ripple effects that can positively influence those around you, including in the workplace.

Episode Resources

Welcome to Heart to Heart Nurses, brought to you by the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association. PCNA's mission is to promote nurses as leaders in cardiovascular disease prevention and management.  

Geralyn Warfield (host): Welcome to today's episode where we are speaking with Keith Jones. Keith, could you introduce yourself to our audience?  

Keith Jones (guest): Yes. My name is Keith Jones and I work at Mayo Clinic and I also have a wellbeing business. And what I do at Mayo Clinic is I'm the Project Manager for the Office of Joy and Wellbeing. How cool is that?  

Geralyn Warfield (host): Oh my gosh. So incredibly cool. I am so grateful that you're spending some time with us and spreading joy with our audience. So, let's talk a little bit about well-being and what it really takes to make that happen. We've heard a lot more recently about mental health, and I understand that people are always looking for more information about how [00:01:00] to have that better sense of wellbeing, and I'm hoping you can talk just a little bit more about that please. 

Keith Jones (guest): Absolutely. Thank you for the question, Geralyn. I think well-being means something different to everyone. For me, what well-being means is working on myself in such a way that I'm operating at my best, that I'm being my best, and I'm able to contribute to others in a meaningful way. So that's what it means for me. 

And so, some forms of it may be exercise, physical exercise. Other parts of it may be a mindfulness practice or yoga or meditation. So, it's different for everyone. But at the core of it, to me, it is working on yourself in such a way that it helps you really work at your highest level to show up at your highest level. 

Geralyn Warfield (host): You are bringing to our podcast session today an incredible array of expertise, not only in well-being but also from a perspective of working with healthcare. And we all know that healthcare is one of those most stressful positions that you can have. It's very [00:02:00] gratifying, but there's a lot to that. So how would you recommend our listeners who are healthcare professionals balance this idea of wellbeing with everything else they have going on in their lives? 

Keith Jones (guest): That’s a great question. My introduction into healthcare was, I guess, an unconventional journey. I had a well-being business prior to coming to Mayo Clinic. And in that business, I worked with individuals to help them reach their goals, most of which were oriented around physical fitness and health and things like that. 

And then eventually I met a doctor at Mayo Clinic, and I was still outside the walls of Mayo Clinic at the time, but his specialty was in oncology. And he wanted to offer a little bit more support for his clients who were not only, you know, on the other side of surviving cancer, but they were also working on trying to improve and strengthen themselves [00:03:00] physically, but also highten and increase their confidence, as it related to the disease. 

And so, we began to work together. And one thing led to another, and I started to volunteer at Mayo Clinic several years later, and that's when I got an inside look at healthcare. And I began to work with different units within Mayo Clinic, both on the education side, the research side, and most recently of the last four or five years on the clinical side. 

And it was in this space that I got to work very closely with care teams, specifically nurses. And so, it was like Florence Nightingale. Everywhere I walked around, everywhere I went, I saw someone who was literally putting others before themselves, every step of the way. And it was very inspiring to me, and I wanted to support them. 

And what I did notice too, was that there was a prevalence of burnout. And nurses were talking to me about compassion fatigue. And those are things that are warning signs that we really need [00:04:00] to give attention to caring for our nurses. And so, I began to develop well-being interventions for them.  

So, my advice would be to make your well-being one of the most important things, if not the most important things. Otherwise, would people get from you is not the best of you, but what's left of you. 

And I think that goes not only to nurses in the workplace, but also to them with their families and their loved ones.  

Geralyn Warfield (host): Do you find that having a team of people that are all exposed to this idea of, of being, putting wellbeing first helps each individual as well as the team? 

Keith Jones (guest): Oh, absolutely. I think so. And. It's often a tough sell for healthcare professionals because they are so used to giving to others, and so carving out time for themselves seems like a selfish act. But the more and more you find that your compassion is [00:05:00] being eroded or diminishing, then you really need to, I guess, restore that. You really need to be intentional about filling that tank up again, so you have more to give for yourself and for others. 

But when you do so, you have the ability—and it’s not always intentional, it’s just something that magically happens—that you begin to infuse joy, you begin to support the wellbeing of others just by the way that you show up. 

And that's what I've found to be true for myself and for other people that have worked with me and others in this space of wellbeing and make it a priority in their lives.  

It has increased the vitality amongst their units. And we're talking about units in cardiovascular care as well as the ICU, the ED, or the emergency rooms. In those places, it has really shifted the energy and so [00:06:00] it has this capacity to really improve the overall culture as well as the energy among colleagues.  

Geralyn Warfield (host): That sounds like an incredible way for things to be amplified, both at the individual as well as the team or even organizational level. And I'm wondering if you have any strategies that you might share with our audience if they don't have any idea of how to start wellbeing in their own lives or within their organization, what they might do in order to start that. 

Keith Jones (guest): So, I think the first thing to do is be really, just aware. Aware that whatever's happening right now, is it sustainable for you? Does it bring you joy? Are you peaceful about what's happening?  

So, for example, if you are waking up on Monday morning and you are wishing it was Friday, that's a problem. You know, and, and that was the case, you know, that was my case for a number of years, [00:07:00] when I was in the financial. services sector. I would wake up on Monday wishing it was Friday.  

Once you start to develop a wellbeing practice, that begins with the awareness that what you're doing right now doesn't work for you. Once you do that, you start to ask different questions, and the question becomes, I'm probably going to work another 20, 30 years. Some people may be short-timers, and maybe it's only four or five years that they have left, but whatever the time is, you start to ask yourself, “Is it okay that I wake up on Monday wishing it was Friday?” 

Once you start the well-being practice, the questions automatically change. You start to say things, not just questions, but statements, and they become, “How do I make every Monday feel like Friday?” 

And then you start to say that, “This is an inside job.” You start to say, “Well, it begins with me. It begins with how I relate to Mondays. How do I relate to staffing?” 

So right now, I know that healthcare professionals in a [00:08:00] lot of hospitals and academic institutions are understaffed. So, if this is the reality, one way to go about it is resisting it in wishing was different. You can certainly do that, but there's a lot of suffering that comes with that.  

Another way to go about it is, is if this is the current state now, with no certainty that it will change. “How do I want to relate to the staffing issue that we have?” You want to become a person who can handle the staffing issue in such a way that it doesn't affect you internally. It may increase the workload, but internally you're peaceful about it.  

And in doing so, a well-being practice will help you take that awareness to create something different for yourself inside. And you start to say to yourself, “Under these staffing constraints, I will give my best today” instead of saying, “I have nothing more to give,” everything becomes about giving your best, and that becomes more than enough.  

And so that's what I would say to healthcare professionals who [00:09:00] are looking to get started. And there are different techniques to do so. Some people yoga resonates with them, other people it’s gardening or walking their pet or just being rooted in nature. It's different for everyone.  

So, you want to find the one that speaks to you, that resonates with you, that will make it easier for you to stay committed to it. And disciplined to continue to do it on a daily basis.  

Geralyn Warfield (host): We're going to take a quick break and we will be right back  


Geralyn Warfield (host): And we're back talking about being present, in moment and helping ourselves and our colleagues through the process of wellbeing. 

I suspect that one of the things that makes well-being worthwhile for individuals is consistency. Could you talk a little bit about how that works?  

Keith Jones (guest): Consistency is key. And one of the things that I observed in my own life was that I wanted to feel peaceful, no matter how life showed up. And if I ever took a break from my wellbeing practice in the [00:10:00] perfunctory part of my wellbeing practice, it's actually just five exercises that I do every morning that take about 10 to 15 minutes. 

After I complete those five simple exercises, my work becomes performing them throughout the day. So, for example, my exercises are, are oriented around accepting the reality of the situation in front of me. We talked a little bit about if there is, if you get notice the morning that you're walking into work, that you're short-staffed, how are you going to relate to this new information? Are you going to be peaceful about it or is there going to be resistance? Is there going to be suffering over it?  

So, my well-being practice may be accepting that. Another piece of the practice may be to not be reactive, but to take a pause, to be grateful for whatever this opportunity, this moment, how it's presenting itself to me so that I can continue to deepen my capacity to be peaceful, and to serve the moment, to like, to raise it, to make [00:11:00] things better. 

So, I often work with individuals who are in senior leadership. And the one thing that's come into most senior leaders is they have enough problems. What they're looking for are individuals who they support, who come with solutions. So, in a moment like that, when you notice an issue within your unit, or among your colleagues, or the work that's on your plate that day, you want to ask yourself, “How can my action help make this situation better?” 

There's always an opportunity no matter how bad it is, or it seems, to make the situation better. Consistency helps you do that. It’s really that simple.  

And so, for me, I know people that are really consistent with the wellbeing practice Monday through Friday, and then on the weekends they're like, “I'm off work. This is the weekend. I'm taking my wellbeing practice off.” It's amazing the number of things that will upset them [00:12:00] or take them off this peaceful path. Because they haven't given it attention.  

For me, it's 24/7. Seven days a week. I'm going to do that 15-minute well-being practice in the morning because it helps set me up to be able to perform it throughout the day. Whether I'm in traffic and it's not moving, and with the flow that my mind says it should be moving at, or whether it's me being at a department store or at a restaurant and people are cutting in line. 

Without becoming upset about those simple things, I want to be able to practice that all the time. 

So, on my way here to Louisiana from Arizona today, I was just observing what was happening in the airport. And what I noticed was that there was a flight that was delayed. And here we are, you know, it's the weekend, so there's a flight delayed. Good opportunity to take a break from your well-being practice if you choose to.  

And this delayed flight, I saw people that behaved the way that I used to before wellbeing [00:13:00] practice. They're upset, they're talking to the gate agent about how this is unacceptable. When would the next flight be here? I'm never flying this airline again. All that stuff is happening.  

And then I see a family of five. They had one kid in a Bjorn strapped to the parent's chest. Another kid is being tethered to a parent, so they don't get lost, and they’ve got another kid in a stroller.  

So, during that delay, what they did was they took out coloring books and puzzles. They spent that time completely different. Both parties had the same amount of time. But they chose to take different action during that delay. For them, it wasn't a delay, it was an opportunity to have a connected moment with their family that they wouldn't have had before. 

Whereas the other folks were upset about it. And so, what consistency does is it helps you not take breaks off from attending to your wellbeing, from practicing self-care, from cultivating inner peace. That's the benefit of being consistent [00:14:00] and to do it is you just really make up your mind, “This is what I'm doing. I'm doing this every day.” 

And for me it became, “I'm doing this every day for the rest of my life.” Why wouldn't I? When I get to feel peaceful the majority of the day, I do not want to experience any suffering, and it is literally a personal choice for me.  

Geralyn Warfield (host): When you were describing the story and as you've been discussing this practice of yours, I had a visual in my mind of a ripple effect. 

So, in my head, I saw you in the center of the drop of water, for example, hitting a still body of water, but your peacefulness then radiates outward in a ripple effect. And even if others are not conscious of that peacefulness, individuals who are practicing in this particular way can have an impact on others. 

Even if you aren't speaking to them, even if they're not your direct patient. It really can make a big difference, can't it?  

Keith Jones (guest): It absolutely can. [00:15:00] That's a great observation, and it's not something that you go out to intentionally do. You know what I go out to do is whatever happens in the present moment, I want to be conscious enough, aware enough so that I can contribute to the moment. 

And sometimes that’s saying nothing, sometimes is just saying, hello.  

I work in the Office of Joy and Wellbeing at Mayo Clinic. And people ask me like, “There's such an office here? I've never heard an office like that anywhere!” And they say, “What do you do?” 

And I say, “I just sprinkle kindness all over campus, everywhere I go.” 

And that is much different from the person I used to be just eight years ago where what I contributed to the workplace was a lot of complaining. Wishing things were better or different. I was not the best colleague, especially to leadership. Now, I did my job very well at a very high level, but that's not enough when you are trying to maintain a culture. 

And especially a culture that is centered around caring for others as it is in healthcare, it is really about [00:16:00] improving the lives of others at all times.  

The first, I guess, experience that I had with the effect that someone who's coming from a peaceful place can have on others was when I was, for lack of a better word, unconscious. I was literally identified with my thoughts and at the mercy of anything that happened outside of me in the outside world.  

So I was, I was doing financial planning at the time and I was exercising at the gym because I'm a very disciplined person. I mean, I think I was. I had a mother who was big on discipline. Never raised a voice, led by example.  

And then I went to the Marine Corps for four years and that amplified the discipline for me. And so, I'm a very disciplined person. So, if I say I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it. A lot of that is really goal-oriented. I'm very achievement minded. 

And a wellbeing practice really kind of takes a step [00:17:00] back from that. Because you become detached from outcome. You're kind, not because you want something in return. You're kind, because you're kind. You're peaceful because you're choosing to be peaceful. 

And so back, with this experience, this story I'm about to share with you, when I was around somebody who was living this, and its effect on me, it has stayed with me, I guess it's almost 25 years later.  

I was exercising and I had recently started to work out with a guy who I met at the gym just a few weeks ago. And he was a peaceful guy. The things that the other people in the gym we would talk about, whether it's politics or whether it's something that is happening, and you know, the public sphere with a celebrity or an athlete, that was mostly our conversation.  

About how tough life was. The challenges. Or what we're going to do this weekend. Or, you know, the latest material trappings that we purchased, something like that. [00:18:00]  

And I remember one day he said, “Keith, are you okay?” 

I was like, “Am I okay? Are you serious right now? The market dropped 400 points today.” I'm in financial services, so I had no idea that my mood was totally at the effect of whether or not the stock market goes up or down. Now, when you think about that, how ridiculous is that? That I would tie my emotional well-being, my inner state, to something as fickle and unpredictable as a stock market. 

And I've seen people do it with the pandemic. Whether we're masking, not masking. Whether you're vaccinated, not vaccinated, How people would get twisted in knots over something that was completely out of their control. And that would've been me too.  

Or you can choose to spin a different way. Whether you're vaxxed or not, it's fine. I love everybody. I have an open heart to everybody. No matter who you voted for, my heart is open to you. 

And so, this individual had that kind of energy. I didn't know it then, but I was around somebody who had a practice [00:19:00] that was really informing the way they move through life. And so, I said, “The market's dropped significantly today. How do you think I feel?” 

And all he said was, first of all, I was, I guess, taken aback that he even asked me how did I feel? I would, I thought he would assume that I wasn't doing very well. And all he said was, “Hmm. That's interesting.” And he left it there. And that gave me just a sneak peek, like a glimpse at how what I was feeling was completely within my control. 

Now I became better around him, but everyone else got the old Keith, you know, up and down with the market or whatever happened that day. But over 25 years ago, that was my first glimpse that there was another way to engage with life. There was another way to be around people and to still be at your best, to be peaceful, to be able to serve in a [00:20:00] way that gives others an opportunity to benefit from the way that you show up.  

Geralyn Warfield (host): Is there anything else about wellbeing that you'd like to share that we haven't had a chance to discuss?  

Keith Jones (guest): How simple it is. It is really, really simple to do. And it takes on, and it's all-encompassing. I mean, it's from the physical state, from how you take care of your body, to sleep, to nutrition and exercise, to the mental state of it can really help you be more creative. 

You know, because you're not coming from a place of serving you. You're coming from a place of serving others. You come from a place of being peaceful. It can help you stay really more connected with meaning and purpose. I think almost everyone that I've met has come into healthcare because they care about other people. 

And nurses are some of the most caring individuals that I've ever come across. 

And well-being can help you maintain and nurture that compassion for others, including [00:21:00] yourself. It has a capacity to help you extend grace to others when normally you might not, or when normally you feel that you are depleted and don't have any more energy to do so.  

It has really been the single most important thing that I've committed myself to in my life, and I have the opportunity to do it at Mayo Clinic where we are seeing, we're doing a lot of research in this area at Mayo Clinic. 

And we have seen significant improvement across all wellbeing measures, from wellbeing to emotional intelligence, to reducing burnout, to even having a positive impact on medical errors. Errors. So, we're very excited about this. 

Geralyn Warfield (host): Thank you so very much for bringing the idea of joy and well-being to our audience today. 

This is Geralyn Warfield, your host, and we will see you next time.  

Keith Jones (guest): Great. Thank you, Geralyn. 

Thank you for listening to Heart to Heart Nurses. We invite you to visit for clinical resources, continuing education, and much more. 

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