OMA Section on Primary Care Mental Health

November 16, 2016. Caring for Self while Caring for Others.

Courage, Grit and Self Compassion: Why Resilience Matters.

Harry Zeit MD, CGPP

Historically, we physicians have not viewed ourselves as a highly stressed group. Changes in the delivery of health care and growing knowledge about the nature of secondary trauma and unremitting stress have begun to foster a new awareness concerning our individual and collective well-being.

North American peer-reviewed literature continues to reveal growing rates of burnout in our profession.  Currently, over fifty per cent of practicing physicians show some signs of burnout.  By the time these signs are present, both our clinical abilities and our health – both in the short term and in the long term, are being actively impacted.

How do we face and overcome the feelings of helplessness and despair that can arise while practicing in an eroding health care system?  How can we find the strength, the self-compassion and the connection we need to continue to thrive in an increasingly hostile work environment?

Now entering its fifth year, the Caring for Self while Caring for Others series will continue to offer up-to-date information, room for engaged dialogue and practical somatic tools to help regulate the stress-affected autonomic nervous system and HPA-G axis.

For this year’s series, I’m recommending you look at:

Resilience: Hard Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life, by Eric Greitens, a Navy Seal and Writer.

First Do No Self-Harm: Understanding and Promoting Physician Stress Resilience, edited by Charles Figley, a pioneer in the field of stress, vicarious trauma, PTSD and resilience.

In this talk you will:

1.) Review some definitions of resilience, identifying one that works best for your own needs.

2.) Learn to face and master pain (when pain is inevitable).

3.) Identify the power of team work and group resilience (a relatively untapped source at this point in our profession).

4.) Learn a yoga breathing technique (a modification of brahmari pranayama) to add to your self-care toolbox.

Harry Zeit MD currently works full-time practicing trauma therapy and psychotherapy. He is certified in sensorimotor psychotherapy, finishing the final level of training in 2013.

Dr. Zeit previously worked as an American board-certified emergency physician in Cambridge and Toronto, Ontario, between 1983 and 2005.

Dr. Zeit is the education chairman of the OMA Section in Primary Mental Health Care/GP Psychotherapy.  In this role, he moderates the Wednesday Main Speakers Series.  He created the Caring for Self while Caring for Others Series to meet what he perceived to be a growing need for our profession to face challenges around unremitting stress and burnout, and to differentiate these physiology-driven processes from a mental health model which favoured treating burnout as anxiety or depression.

Dr. Zeit will again be assisted this year by Irina Dumtrache, YTT, who brings her skills as a yoga teacher, yoga practitioner and integrative nutritionist to this accessible and hands on program.

Dr. Zeit’s previous blog is available at: