Doctor at Wexner Medical Center takes stress management class virtual with positive results

Pandemic Postcards

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — In this pandemic year, many may have a new definition for stress and how destructive it can be. Few professions have felt it more than healthcare workers.

When Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center looked into how to de-stress its staff remotely, they learned they already had a plan.

“Today’s practice is about finding joy, which is different than happiness,” Dr. Maryanna Klatt tells her online class for Mindfulness in Motion, a program she said is her baby.

Born in 2004 for cancer survivors, the de-stress exercises combine mindfulness, being present in the moment, gentle yoga, and de-stress meditation.

“Help them thrive in their cancer survivorship rather than just existing,” she remembers about the program’s initial goal 17 years ago, which is an eight-week program, in person, with 15 participants at a time.

“What changes is that we’re all responsible for our experience of life, and we have a lot more power than we give ourselves credit for,” Klatt said.

COVID-19 shut down the in-person classes, and Klatt feared it wouldn’t work online. After all, people programs are supposed to be with people.

“I did the research to see if the results were different, virtual versus in person,” Klatt said.
They were exactly the same.”

“Perceived stress is down,” she said, showing off her graphs. “Look at these. This is resilience, and this is work engagement.”

Half the stress and triple the resilience and work engagement not just after eight weeks, but after a year.

“We don’t have to be in person to connect?” I wondered about the results. “OK. What I think it says is we were so starved to connect that it worked virtually,” observed Dr. Klatt.

Worked so well, three other medical centers in Ohio have signed on, and one more in Michigan. And Dr. Adam Levine will be teaching.

“I’ve recognized how much it’s benefitted me in my life, and I want to pass that along to other people,” Levine said.

“I think they’re more aware at being in the moments of their lives,” Klatt smiles, “and that feels good.”

“Is this the beginning of an explosion?” I wondered. “I hope,” Dr. Klatt guffaws. “I think so.”

Anyone interested in discussing the eight-week Mindfulness in Motion Program for your organization, contact wellness@osumc.edu. Click here for a sampling of what the program offers.

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