SARAH VEST – STAFF WRITER
Stress is an ever-present element in a person’s life, and how they deal with it greatly impacts how their life plays out.
Françoise Adan studies resiliency and will share her findings on the role it has in people’s lives at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24 in the Amphitheater for the Chautauqua Lecture Series theme of “Resilience.”
Adan is the Chief Whole Health and Wellbeing Officer for University Hospitals and the director for the UH Connor Integrative Health Network, based in Cleveland. She is the Endowed Connor Chair of Integrative Medicine at UH and the recipient of the Christopher M. and Sara H. Connor Master Clinician in Integrative Health award.
Adan has been a psychiatrist for more than 25 years and specializes in three areas — stress management, work/life balance and the mind/body/spirit connection. She said that she has always been intrigued by the differences between people who are able to bounce back quickly and those who struggle.
It is an idea that has held a personal — and professional — fascination for her. It’s reason that she became a psychiatrist and has dedicated her career to understanding it.
Most of her work has been spent doing one-on-one sessions with patients. Some of her patients were able to bounce back from trauma and recover — and in some cases, thrive — while others struggled heavily. Adan said she has learned a lot by seeing what has and has not worked for them. In some ways, she said, she has become a student of resilience, and her patients are her teachers.
“Resilience is not something that you are born with; it is something that you can cultivate and learn and get better at,” Adan said. “(This) gives us hope, because it’s not like either you have it or you don’t — you actually can build it if you follow some principles.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Adan spearheaded a new system-wide program in order to provide resources and support for UH’s 28,000 caregivers who work in 22 hospitals as well as more than 50 health centers and outpatient facilities and over 200 physician offices located in Northeast Ohio.
For the last 18 months, Adan said, it has felt like health care workers have been under attack from the neverending stress that comes from working during a pandemic. She is responsible for equipping and empowering UH’s employees to face this stress and help make them more resilient. The idea that they will soon be facing another wave of COVID-19 has only increased Adan’s motivation to learn more about resilience and develop more tools so that she can help others.
During her lecture, Adan will talk about lessons she has learned over the course of the pandemic and practical tools people can use to build their own resilience — the very tools that she has used to help health care workers. The tools that she is going to talk about will be applicable on a personal level, but she hopes that people will take them back to their families and workplaces and use them to help others.
“Pandemic or not, stress is not going to go away,” Adan said. “I just want to make sure that people leave with hope and with practical tools, so they can manage whatever curveball life is throwing at them.”