How to Address Burnout

How to Address Burnout
This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Dealing With Burnout

How to Address Burnout?

As a physician, you have to deal with growing medical knowledge, increased clerical duties, as well as new regulatory requirements. All of these aspects can take a toll on your professional life and your personal life as well. The term “burnout” is used loosely after an exhausting day, but actual burnout is quite a serious matter. It is a real condition that is easy to overlook, but the consequences can be serious. So how can you address burnout? What can you do to stay content and motivated at work?

How to Avoid Burnout?

  • Create a positive workplace by choosing to let go of negativity and setting a purpose to experience happiness within the workplace.
  • Take some time off to go on vacation or take a road trip with your family and restore your sense of balance.
  • Schedule a little time for yourself – relax, read a book, write a novel, take a walk, etc.
  • Search deep down and rediscover your personal needs – Is it having authority? Being accepted by others? Attaining a particular accomplishment? Find out what it is that will make you happy.
  • An important way to address burnout is to reach out and talk to your family, friends, or colleagues when you are feeling overwhelmed or unappreciated.
  • Try to exercise at least three times a week. Consider some relaxation techniques such as swimming, biking, meditation or yoga.
  • Develop healthy patterns by being proactive, eating healthy meals, and getting enough sleep.
  • Find an interest outside of medicine to help release your tension. Consider joining a book club, taking up golfing, playing tennis, etc.
  • Reconnect with a medical school classmate and reminisce about the good times spent together. Try to remember why you got into medicine in the first place.
  • Try taking a different route to work or home. Perhaps a change of scenery can help to improve your enthusiasm.
  • Attend a medical school convention and learn about new procedures, treatments, and opportunities. Staying ahead of the latest medical advancements can help you to remain an authority within your field.
  • Address burnout by volunteering for a wellness committee or joining an online interest group to talk and learn from others who are going through similar experiences.
  • Take short breaks at work to ‘recharge your batteries’.
  • Hire medical assistants when necessary to help ease your workload so that you can focus on more important things that require your complete attention.
  • Improve team functioning by engaging staff members to work together as a team and achieve common goals.
  • Conduct weekly or monthly staff meetings in order to discuss various topics and address issues anywhere from jam-packed schedules to virus outbreaks.
  • Work together with administrators and other physicians to identify internal factors (feelings, age, working experience, personality characteristics) that are triggering high burnout rates among physicians.
  • Talk with other physicians about burnout issues that you are facing (depression, anxiety, etc.) or meet to discuss health-related topics that will help you feel less isolated.
  • Strive and work towards your goals and milestones – promotion, disease prevention, patient advocacy, etc.
  • Strive to balance your personal and professional life by prioritizing your responsibilities. Are you spending all of your time at the hospital? Perhaps a little time spent at home may help you to alleviate your mental and physical exhaustion.
  • Seek help from your family, friends, or a professional if you are experiencing early warning signs of burnout – anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, physical symptoms, and impaired concentration.

Practice Mindfullness

According to several studies, practicing mindfulness meditation can be a useful way to address burnout. Mindfulness is portrayed as “the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training”. It is a practice that involves organizing on your thoughts and not judging them as good or bad, but rather focusing on the present with open-heartedness. The ultimate goal is to help you achieve both mental and emotional stability.

Moreover, in order to protect your passion for medicine from negative thoughts, stop doing what you believe is holding you back or what is not satisfying you. By letting your own negativity fade away, you can translate your thoughts and emotions towards positivity. At work, strive to create a space where you and your staff members will feel appreciated, productive, and satisfied. At the end of the day, leave work at work. At home, spend some time with your family and do activities that will bring you joy and purpose.

Reflect, Explore and Reevaluate

Throughout countless research studies conducted over the years, it has been determined that stress is the primary and the most common cause of physician burnout. So attempt to change the aspects that may lead to your burnout by changing the way you work. Sometimes, performing the same routine every single day can be draining and overwhelming. Explore your options – for some individuals, this may mean a change of scenery or medical field, while for others it may be an entirely new career. Listen to your inner voice and do some self-reflecting. Ponder over your expertise, what you have achieved so far, and how you feel about your achievements. As you begin to rediscover who you are and why you got into medicine in the first place, your passion for patient care will resurface.

In every line of work, or even at home for that matter, stress is inevitable. Whether you choose to give into the downward pull of stress and exhaustion is up to you. Remember that in clinical practice, your level of stress is a moving target and the end result can be burnout. By proactively focusing on your mental health state, you have a better chance of sustaining resilience in the face of stress and properly caring for your patients. The key to surviving or preventing burnout is being able to achieve a proper work-life balance. The good news is that this balance is yours and you can alter it at any point. Above all, pace yourself in everyday situations and appreciate your line of work and make no mistake; your patients appreciate you.

Series Navigation<< Burnout Causes and Consequences
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