Parasympathetic

March 22, 2020

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Anchor lead: We can engage our nervous system to slow down moral injury, Elizabeth Tracey reports

When we feel stressed in the workplace, as many healthcare providers do, one arm of our nervous system known as the sympathetic system may be on overdrive. Cynda Rushton, a bioethics expert at Johns Hopkins, says bringing this reaction into awareness and engaging the calming arm of the nervous system called the parasympathetic, may help.

Rushton: When we’re in the midst of these situations our nervous system has just gone wonky. We are reactive, we’re more rigid. Being able to recognize I’m really upregulated right now and having some tools. As simple as taking a few deep breaths, to get our parasympathetic nervous system online, can help us in the moment. Then we might also have the energy to look more creatively at what are the patterns in our system that are causing this problem and then how do I use my energy and insight to make bigger change?  :33

Rushton says using such skills may help clinicians avoid moral injury over the long term. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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