Balancing our Resiliency Reservoirs with Dr. Laura Berenstain

In this episode, we talk to Dr. Laura Berenstain about our reservoirs of resiliency, toxic altruism in the health care community, and why scrolling social media is not the same thing as connection.

June 7th, 2022

Episode Notes

Memorable Moments:

  • 3:00 I think what most of us think about when we think about wellbeing is something that encompasses all the parts that make us human; our physical, our emotional, or social, even our financial status, are all the parts of us working the way they need to and the way we would like them to so that we really feel that we’re fully fledged human beings, and we’re moving as close to our real potential as we can.
  • 4:32 I think when I think about burnout, I think about going back to wellbeing and am I operating really on all cylinders, in all the parts of my life? Sadly, the answer for a lot of us, especially post COVID is no, because we’re under stress all the time.
  • 4:58 So I think when I think about burnout, I like to couple it with resiliency. And with the resiliency part is some thoughtful work about what is your resiliency reservoir? And what does that look like? How deep is it? And that comes back to how are those parts of your life working together? And if they’re not, what needs to happen then and what restores you, and what brings you energy?
  • 6:33 I really want to emphasize that this takes a little bit of exploration, because one size doesn’t fit all. And so I think sometimes we actually make ourselves feel even worse, if we take things that seem to work for other people and if that’s not what gives us resilience, or sustains us.
  • 7:51 So I think when people begin to visualize their resiliency reservoir, it’s really helpful to think about what are the things that are little rivers that feed your reservoir. And that could be exercising, or sometimes getting enough sleep. It could for some people be yoga, it could be anything, but what feeds you? And then also being conscious of what are the rivers out of that reservoir? And maybe that’s a job that’s stressful. Maybe it’s a family situation, that’s really hard to deal with right now. But whatever those things are, are they balancing? Because if they’re not balancing, and there’s more outflow from that reservoir than input, then over time, we know where that’s going to head. That’s going to head toward burnout.
  • 11:00 Dr. Kamya Seraph, who teaches a course on trauma coaching [says] connection mitigates trauma. And that’s important, because another thing she says that I believe she’s actually correct about is that right now, the penetrance of trauma in our society is 100%. Because we’ve all lived through COVID. We’ve all had our own challenges to deal with on top of COVID. And trauma can be an event, but it can also be a lived experience, it can be cumulative stress that becomes too much. And so, yes, connection is the thing that mitigates that.
  • 12:00 Something that I realized over the course of years is, especially for women, that takes the form of all the things that are challenges to you, whether it’s work life integration or being the sole breadwinner for your family, worrying about your next promotion, whatever your challenges are, we come to believe that we’re the only people facing those battles and somehow we’re not doing a good enough job. And the beauty of connection is that, at the moment, we are able to be just vulnerable enough to leave our silo and connect with other people, we realize that these are very common things and we’re actually all working through varieties of those things. And just normalizing that is so validating that you almost can just take a deep breath and relax, just thinking about the fact that it’s not my struggle. We’re in this together, it’s everyone’s struggle.
  • 15:22 Connection comes at the point where you feel seen and heard and valued. It comes when there’s trust.
  • 18:06 Toxic altruism is when you’re almost shamed into not taking care of yourself, because you should be taking care of other people. So you wouldn’t take a lunch break between cases, or you wouldn’t go get some water or even go to the bathroom because you’re busy taking care of other people. And so I think for health care workers, it often gets bred into us that somehow it’s wrong or selfish to have needs of our own.
  • 19:10 I think self compassion is a tough one, because part of any problem is raising awareness. But even after we’re aware that we do that, it still takes a concerted effort to say, I’m going to choose to be kind to myself. I’m going to give myself grace. I am not going to beat myself up over this. Or even, what do I need right now?
  • 21:33 It feels so terrifically important to me to try to make a difference for the better in any way that I can.

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This podcast is hosted by Allison Walsh and Dr. Angela Phillips. It is produced by Allison Walsh, Ashley Tate, and Nicole LaNeve. For more information or if you’re interested in being a guest on this podcast, please visit

Show Contributors

Dr. Laura Berenstain

Laura is a pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist who is now the CEO of Berenstain Coaching and Consulting and works primarily coaching women for personal well-being, along with professional success and leadership. She’s a wife, mom to three daughters, author, speaker, and determined agent for change. Experiencing burnout herself led to her passion for working with other women to help them determine their best life and how to achieve it without sacrificing their own authenticity along the way. In addition to coaching Laura works on national initiatives on physician well-being, gender equity and DEI, and professional development. She is active on committees for well-being and leadership through the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia’s Women’s Empowerment Leadership Initiative (WELI).