Reflections for health care workers through the winter season

December 15, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees, ,

The below Headlines article is a message of gratitude and appreciation to all Michigan Medicine faculty, staff and learners from the Office of Counseling and Workplace Resilience.

As we enter the winter season, the changing weather and the upcoming new year represent a time of transition. Regardless of how you mark the season, for many Michigan Medicine faculty, staff, learners, patients and families, the upcoming weeks can be a time to cultivate moments of reflection, pause and connection.

Looking back and looking forward

The last several years have brought immense change, intensity and demand to the work of health care. As you find time to pause and reflect on past and current experiences, you may also notice what you most need or hope for now.

Relationships, values and caring practices can be sustaining, even in times of great difficulty. Moments of overwhelm and stress can shift. As you look back and look forward, you may discover resources and hope that can improve the next moment, and the next, and the next.

Practicing connection and compassion

Every day at Michigan Medicine, extraordinary clinicians and staff show a commitment to caring, integrity and teamwork by walking alongside patients and their families through both heartache and healing. Connection and compassion are at the heart of health care.

While the winter season reminds many of us of spending quality time with loved ones, for others this can be a painful reminder of loss and grief. For those experiencing sadness, anger or loneliness, give yourself permission to honor your emotions and take care of yourself with compassion.

Whether the grief is for a loved one or a patient, you may consider ways to honor their memory or to develop new traditions. When we encounter professional grief, consider introducing a brief pause practice as a way of honoring both the patient’s life and the contributions of the health care team.

Building communities that foster compassion and connection are ways to ensure we bolster ourselves to continue to care for those who choose to place their lives in our hands. This may be as simple as a brief check-in with the people around you and offering time to connect or assist with a task.

Try using this wellness rounding tool to connect with your team and listen for what each person needs. Another powerful intervention to support workplace well-being and build a community of connection is embedding peer supporters in the workplace, who can support individuals and teams during impactful times and events.

Honoring times for rest and care

In the natural world, winter is a time for slowing down and resting. For some, rest may mean slowing the pace of activities and tasks, or simply taking a few seconds to pause in the midst of the busyness of life.

For others, rest may be found in the company of others, by creating connection, offering assistance or sharing a laugh. A period of rest allows you time to reflect and prioritize, give care and attention to your essential needs and focus your energy on the activities that are most meaningful.

The Michigan Medicine Wellness Office website lists many resources to support your well-being and manage stress. Care for your needs can help you meet the demands of whatever the season may bring, with greater compassion, kindness and wisdom.

When more care is needed

If you are worried about yourself or someone else or if you would like additional support, there are resources available to you through every season of life.

The Office of Counseling and Workplace Resilience is available to serve the mental and emotional health needs of all Michigan Medicine faculty, staff, and house officers. The office provides no-charge and confidential counseling, consultation, and stress debriefing services to help you develop strength and resilience in your personal and professional lives.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 734-763-5409 or email