Sarah Romotsky of Headspace addresses selfcare for national nurses week

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Claire Bonaci 

You're watching the Microsoft us health and life sciences, confessions of health geeks podcast, a show that offers Industry Insight from the health geeks and data freaks of the US health and life sciences industry team. I'm your host Claire Bonaci. As part of our 2021 nurses week series today, I welcome Sarah Romotsky, from headspace to the podcast, Sarah and I discussed self care and meditation and how it fits into the healthcare industry.  Hi, Sarah, and welcome to the podcast.

 

Sarah Romotsky 

Hi, thanks for having me.

 

Claire Bonaci 

So it is nurses week, and may is also Mental Health Awareness Month, do you mind sharing your background and why you feel like normalizing mental health is so important?

 

Sarah Romotsky 

Sure, I have a unique background, I am a registered dietician, by training, and I spent many years working on helping people change their their eating habits, to adopt healthier lifestyles. And what I kept running into with clients and patients was that there were all these psychological factors were that were at the beneath the surface of why people were eating certain things, why people were acting out certain behaviors around food and health. And I realized unless we really address the the emotional and mental factors that are at play, we can't really change health overall. And so I'm at headspace to impact health on a much larger scale. So you know, while I still care deeply about getting people to eat a healthy diet, it's also equally as important to focus on our mental health issues or physical health. And so I think normalizing mental health and conversations about mental health are just so important today, it's so critical to everyone's health and your own health and your relationships with others. Whatever that whatever behavior you're acting out, there's, it's important that we address the mental and the emotional struggles below. And I think that's really important. And that's we know that mindfulness and meditation can help us improve our mental health, and really help us show up as a better as a better me. And as a better mother, as a better wife, as a better friend, as a better co worker, a better employee, all of these things are crucial. And mental health is really at the core of that.

 

Claire Bonaci 

And I'm curious, so you started out as a dietitian, what made you want to go to a meditation company, it seems like such a large jump, obviously, it does play a role. But I'm curious how you ended up at headspace.

 

Sarah Romotsky 

It is quite a large jump and not clear to a lot of my family why I was making that move to begin with. But it made sense to me and it still does. You know, nutrition is just is one eating behavior. That's it's it's really important that we have healthy eating behaviors. And nutrition is a really big core that of course. And exercise is also one of those established behaviors that we know is helpful in having a healthy lifestyle. But to me, meditation and mindfulness are equally as important. They're the research is there on meditation and mindfulness. And so I started meditating with headspace, before I was employee headspace during actually when I was having some serious problems with my postpartum depression after my child, and I started meditation and I realized, wow, I'm, I'm eating all this healthy things, I'm exercising, but I'm still not really taking care of my mind in the right way. Those two things weren't really comprehensive enough. And then I added mindfulness and meditation to my routine. And I really felt a profound change in how I was showing up in the world and my emotional and my physical health. And so I decided that you know, while I still love nutrition, I there's another healthy behavior out there that I really want to help promote. And it all runs together. There's, you know, meditation and mindfulness can be mental mindfulness can be incorporated to many aspects of our of our lifestyle, you can have integrate mindfulness into eating, we have a whole course on mindful eating, you can have the just the act of being present and aware and having compassion can be added to everything we do at every part of our day. And so, to me, going to headspace a meditation company was just a was just looking at health on a larger scale, and still working on promoting healthy behaviors. And I will, at dinner parties, I still tell people about gluten and I talk about mindfulness because it's they're equally as important.

 

Claire Bonaci 

Well, I think that's so interesting that you just bring up that parallel between one being healthy and whether that comes just with eating well and exercising. But that side piece of your mental health is just as important as your physical health. So I think that's honestly forgotten many times. So that is, that's great that you brought that parallel, and you brought it up just a little bit about the healthcare industry. So how do you think meditation and self care fits into the healthcare industry, especially with the noting that this week is nurses week?

 

Sarah Romotsky 

Yeah. You know, I think self care used to be one of those like luxuries that only people who worked a certain amount or put in invested certain amount could could have the luxury of self care. And we used to think of self cares, you know, bubble baths, and maybe massage or maybe reading a book. But those still totally can be self cared. But my message in our message is headspace is self care is not a luxury, it's a necessity. And the research shows that meditation and mindfulness in the form of self care is one that can truly have huge impact on mental and physical health, reduce stress, reduce anxiety, depression, improve sleep, better management of chronic conditions. I mean, these are things that have been proven in the research that mindfulness can affect and so while certainly take all the bubble baths you want, it's really important that we think about other other ideas of self care that can that can truly improve our mental health Who would ever thought that sitting and doing deep breathing for 10 minutes was actually a necessity, right? Like, I don't know if we've ever would have really thought that as a culture, but I think we're getting to that place. And especially with a pandemic, we're all really realizing how important it is to develop those self care routines. And when it comes to National Nurses week, I mean, I can't think of health care professionals that are more in need and deserving of taking that time for self care when you care for others all day. And many of them also care for family members at home, too, when they come back from work. It can be hard to find that time for yourself. But it is so needed, we often fall to the bottom of the list of priorities, you know, of everything we need to do the day but it is the most needed, because that's how we can show up the best for everyone around us. And so 10 minutes a day of meditation, 10 minutes, even three times a week, can really have such a great impact on your health, because the stressors and the triggers in our life are never are not going to go away. The pandemic might go away, but we'll still have jobs we'll still have children will still have finances will still have work. But it's how we respond to those stressors that are really important. And so finding a self care routine that can really help you react better to those stressors is what's key. But I think that we should expand the idea of self care and really think about how that can fit into modern mainstream medicine and health care today.

 

Claire Bonaci 

I 100% agree with everything you said you made some really great points. I think definitely, especially with the pandemic happening, people really realize that their mental health is completely affected by what's going on in the world, and especially what's going on at home when everything switched to virtual. Think just so much pressure, so much added stress was put on everyone no matter kind of what role you're in, but especially in the healthcare industry, especially those frontline workers and those nurses and doctors. I know you briefly mentioned just the the research on that. Do you have any research that says that this would help with prevention of kind of healthcare events or just help overall in the healthcare space?

 

Sarah Romotsky 

Yeah, there's been, you know, there's so many studies out there on the benefits of meditation. And then also headspace has 27 published studies itself that have really looked at the efficacy of our product, on on mental health and emotional well being. But you know, there's one study that showed that using headspace can reduce stress in 10 days by 14%. Another one with healthcare workers specifically showed reduce burnout with nurses. And so the best thing about headspace is that there it's available for you at anytime you need it right in between a shift. I know a lot of healthcare professionals who use headspace right before rounds with their team. I mean, there's so many different ways you can utilize it. And there's so many different types of content. The benefit is all of them are based in science and based in the authentic practice of meditation,

 

Claire Bonaci 

when definitely, especially in the healthcare space, especially addressing burnout, I think we always talk about clinician burnout, but this is like a clear, actionable way to help reduce that. And what are some actions or takeaways that you want to leave our listeners with?

 

Sarah Romotsky 

Yeah, I mean, I think there's three things. Number one, meditation is for everyone. You don't need to be you don't need to have a diagnosis, a mental disorder, you don't need to have a chronic condition, but you can and have had those and also find benefit. Anyone can do it. The second my second thing I want people to know is that it doesn't have to be daily. And to give it time, it's not a you know, just like let's say trying to be on a weight loss journey. You can't eat a salad and then expect next day to see the pounds change on your scale. And it's the same thing with meditation you really need to put in the time be consistent with it but you will get to a point where you feel you feel that change you feel different. There's a difference there that you can, you might not be able,it may not be tangible, but you Like I said, maybe before you used to scream at people in traffic, maybe you know, six weeks later of using headspace and meditation, you feel a little bit more resilient to some of those stressors that usually would really get under your skin. So that's my second thing. It doesn't have to be daily, it just has to be consistent. And, and the third thing would be that this is a legitimate practice that healthcare leaders, business leaders, medical experts, scientists, doctors are on board with, because the research is there. So headspace works with healthcare organizations, like the American Medical Association, and others, because they know that meditation can improve your health and well being

 

Claire Bonaci 

even the first point that you made about it is for everyone, I do think that there's still kind of a weird, taboo stereotype around meditation. And honestly, myself, I was a convert, I did not meditate up until probably last few years. And once I switched to it, I did notice the difference. And I did realize, yes, this is for everyone. This is not just for someone that's diagnosed with a condition. It really is for anyone in everyone. And I want to thank you again, Sarah, for being part of the podcast, I have one final question for you something a little fun. What is one unexpected kind thing that someone did for you or your family during the pandemic?

 

Sarah Romotsky 

I love that question. You know, you don't often sit and think, Hmm, what did what did people done for me? And I love that question. And I, the first thing that comes to mind is, um, have a really wonderful neighbor Lupita. And the other day, I had flowers on my doorstep. And it was and it said, you know, to Sarah from Lupita, and I was, wait, it's not my birthday. It's not Mother's Day, like, what would this is, and I realized, it's because she's probably watched me every day for the last nine months a year during this pandemic struggle. I mean, we're gonna put it up in front of our house, she's watched me, you know, try to shove my kids into the car or watch my four year old run down the street without holding hands, or, you know, watch probably my, my baby run out without any underwear on diapers on you know, and like, she's, she's seen, she's been so close to my life for the last nine months, because we've all been home that she's probably seen, you know, front and center, the what's been happening in my family, and what's been happening is just what's happening in everyone's family. We're making it work. We're trying our best. And just the fact that she just put flowers on my doorstep for no specific reason. But no even caught note note to say why but I know it's because she has seen and knows and understands and appreciates what we're going through what I'm going through as a working mom.

 

Claire Bonaci 

this is real life. This is what life is right now, and we're all getting through it together. So, again, thank you so much, Sarah, and hopefully everyone takes this as a sign to go get headspace and start meditation.  Thank you all for watching. Please feel free to leave us questions or comments below. And check back soon for more content from the HLS industry team.

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