If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment

Carlos Santana

For me, one of the most amazing things to come out of this year (a year like no other!), has been the many actions that show just how amazing humanity can be. We have witnessed how resilient, strong and kind people have been in the face of adversity.

Among the many people that have battled on during these incredibly difficult circumstances, are health professionals (especially in Victoria). I don’t know about you, but I’m blown away by how they manage to do these physically exhausting, stressful jobs, with the added burden of a pandemic to deal with. Most health professionals have taken it in their stride and soldiered on. They work hard to keep patients well but also stay positive and optimistic during what could be, the hardest times in their lives.

One organisation doing a truly amazing job of reducing stress levels within the health system (and beyond), is the Hush Foundation. Hush is a charity working to transform the culture of healthcare through music, literature and the arts, and it has been operating for twenty years. Their many achievements include:

  • Healthcare plays by renowned Australian playwright, Alan Hopgood AM;
  • An incredible music collection that has made Hush the largest commissioner of independent music in Australia;
  • Live music in Australian hospitals to calm and soothe patients and staffs; and
  • The ‘Gathering of Kindness’ initiative to instil a culture of kindness throughout the health care system.

Recently I spoke with the Chair of Hush, Professor Cath Crock. Cath is a highly awarded and renowned physician, who established the Hush Foundation in 2000. One of the things that struck me when chatting to Cath and learning about Hush, is the importance of bringing a different feeling to health care. Calming music, plays, and a focus on kindness, are at the heart of the foundation. The intention is to transform health care from something which at times feels serious, heavy, and dark, to something more akin to peacefulness, compassion and love.

To me what is so significant about the Hush Foundation’s efforts is that like all of us, medical professionals do their best work when they are focused, calm and happy. Furthermore, when health professionals feel good, there’s every chance that their patients will benefit from this. This has been shown through research[1]. For example, it has been shown that the better the wellbeing of the clinician, the more accurate and faster the diagnosis[2]. This lesson of course applies to all of us. When we feel good this can result in positive and better interactions with our colleagues, customers, and loved ones.

Another take-away for me was how the Hush Foundation changes the work culture. Through the arts and music, Hush are actually improving how people feel. The significance of this is that when we feel good our thoughts and actions can also change for the better. This is a great lesson for all of us in terms of our wellbeing. Focus on and do more of what makes you feel good, and how you view your current situation and the world may also improve.

So, hats off to Hush! Furthermore, for the rest of us, just remember – please make time for yourself and do more of what feels good, such as exercise, meditation, music or simply being still and doing nothing for a while. You and everyone you interact with will reap the benefits!

Next week, starting Monday 9th November, is also a significant week for Hush as it is hosting its annual ‘Gathering of Kindness’, which includes a performance space, author to author series, and ‘a touch of kindness’ video series. As part of the author to author series, I was fortunate enough to have been invited by Hush to discuss my health journey and the importance of good mental health for everyone including health professionals. To find out more about this year’s Gathering of Kindness, go to www.gatheringofkindness.org

Hugs,

Ivan

 

[1] Louise Hall et al, ‘Healthcare Staff Wellbeing, Burnout, and Patient Safety: A Systematic Review’, PLoS One, 2016, 11(7).

[2] Shawn Achor (2011), The Happiness Advantage, Virgin Books, p.43.