Well-being is often characterized as a composition of various dimensions of well-being. The number of dimensions often ranges between 6-8 when defining areas of well-being. The 8 most common dimensions are physical, mental, emotional, occupational, intellectual, financial, spiritual, and social. These dimensions are interdependent and not always equally balanced. It is important to nurture and grow each dimension of well-being to build a quality of life that resonates with you.
The resources on this page are meant to simply help you engage with your well-being and are a starting point to jump into your own exploration of your well-being.
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Being attuned to your emotions and how it affects your well-being is hard work. Cultivating a healthy emotional dimension requires intimacy, independence, and interdependence to be aware of and accepting of feelings in oneself and others. Learning to identify, accept, and manage emotions and feelings, rather than denying those emotions and feelings, is essential to overall well-being.
As a surgeon, engaging in the emotional dimension creates the space to identify and accept your emotions and feelings—whether positive or negative. It offers the opportunity to pause and step back from the moment to take stock and re-energize oneself from an emotional standpoint. Taking time to understand and respect your feelings, values, and attitudes to build skills to manage emotions and emotional energy is important to well-being.
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Worksheet Resources and Activities
Feeling a sense of purpose and fulfillment in your career where you feel fulfilled and your values, compassion, and purpose influence your career is critical. For surgeons, and physicians, occupational well-being can contribute to improved patient satisfaction and interpersonal aspects of care.
Ikigai, a Japanese concept to improving work and life, captures the intersection of drivers that motivate, result in one achieving occupational well-being, and how you feel your work makes a difference in people’s lives. It is composed of two words: iki, which means life and gai, which describes value or worth. Four overlapping qualities drive ikigai: what you can be paid for, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you love. These four qualities overlap to cultivate your passion, mission, profession, and vocation.1
“A sense of purpose pushes us out of complacency and into proactivity, resulting in healthier decisions and richer experiences, even among our feelings of isolation, anxiety, and sadness.”
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Building your intellectual well-being is important as a surgeon. How you develop it can range from reading a book, magazine, or journal, taking a class, doing research, engaging in a new experience, in a hobby unrelated to your career. Time management, identifying available resources, and recognizing hobbies/activities/pursuits that encourage creativity and are mentally stimulating to you are essential components to building your intellectual well-being.
Crafting social well-being is key to managing stress, uncertainty, perception of personal control over one's life experiences and helps one's work towards goals. Workplace social support can lower job strain, improve health outcomes, promote coping, lower occupational stress, and minimize perceptions of depersonalization. It can also affect job satisfaction, commitment, and engagement alongside professional efficacy, self-efficacy, and professional development. For physicians, professional identity is socially constructed through interactions in the workplace and outside of the workplace. This professional identity changes throughout your life and career. Focusing on your social well-being and how you cultivate it allows for both an inward and external expression of the norms, values, and characteristics important to you in building interpersonal relationships and maintaining healthy relationships.
Physical well-being is imperative as research shows that healthy doctors are more likely to provide better patient care and less likely to make mistakes from stress, fatigue, and boredom. Healthy choices can affect mental acuity, motivation, and productivity and contribute to positive self-esteem, self-control, and increase a sense of purpose. The following activities, resources, and tools aim to help you become more aware of your physical well-being and identify steps you can take to support and enhance your physical well-being.
Being financially stressed can cause distractions at work and can decrease other dimensions of well-being. Learning to understand your relationship with money, what it represents to you, and how you plan is the foundation to cultivating your financial well-being.1 Well-being extends beyond personal finances to include fear of losing professional financial footing, whether managing your practice, meeting RVU targets, experiencing adverse or near-adverse outcomes with fear you might lose your job and/or being sued, and delaying repayment of student loan debt. When you feel financial stress, it can be helpful to review some basic components of managing your finances and identify areas where you have control and options to achieve your financial wellness.
Spiritual Well-Being is the “deepest part of you that gives meaning in your life.” It involves growing your understanding of the things that provide meaning in your life and how they guide your decision-making throughout life. Your beliefs, values, and morals give meaning to your life and influence your spiritual well-being.2 Health professionals, health educations, health students, and other professions in medical fields define the spiritual well-being dimension as:
As a surgeon, spiritual well-being can provide a framework to view death, pain, and suffering. Your spiritual well-being can support you in restructuring negative cognitions and reduce distress for situations you face as a surgeon.4
Environmental well-being involves being and feeling physically safe in your micro and macro environments. It includes being in safe and clean surroundings, accessing basic human needs such as clean air, food, and water, and understanding how your social, natural, and built environments affect your overall well-being. Your micro-environment encompasses places where you live, learn, and work. Your macro-environment includes your communities, your country, and the planet. How you feel about your environment is critical to how you live your life.5 Your micro and macro environments are optimal when your living, learning, and working spaces promote learning, contemplation, and relaxation. Your decisions and others’ decisions contribute to creating safe, supportive, inclusive, and sustainable communities and how they impact spaces.6