5 Signs to Watch For to Avoid Physician Burnout & 5 Ways to Prevent it
Working in healthcare can be exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Imagine having a job where the individual’s physical or mental health is reliant on your choices. It sounds a bit overwhelming, doesn’t it? Now imagine doing it day after day, for years.
Some studies in recent years show that over 50% of physicians experience burnout. This is a scary number when considering how much we rely on our physicians and need them to be healthy. One of the primary reasons they burn out is because they are so busy helping others they neglect themselves.
Lookout For These 5 Signs
1. Emotional Exhaustion
When you start feeling drained or empty, this is a sign that something needs to change or you will become burnt out. One way to tell if you are tired and need a break is by taking a few days off. If the feeling doesn’t go away or at least fade, you know you need to do something about it.
If you start to notice that patients are beginning to annoy you regularly or you begin to become sarcastic or short with them, this is a sure sign you’re heading for burnout. Depersonalization will become noticeable in your other relationships if it is not addressed. You will no longer be emotionally available for yourself, much less anyone else.
It’s normal for us to become negative every now and then, but we don’t stay there long. If this happens, even the happiest of doctors can see dread when they used to see hope. More than likely, others will notice this before you do. If someone mentions it to you, instead of ignoring it, ask a close friend or family member to see if they’ve noticed it too.
4. Anxiety or Nausea
Think of a time you dreaded going somewhere; you would notice that your stomach started turning or your chest would tighten every time you went there, wouldn’t it? This is what dread feels like, and if you start feeling it at night before work, it’s time to look into these symptoms. Physicians have noted that they frequently felt that way when experiencing burnout.
5. Boredom and Making Simple Mistakes
You may start questioning if you are even making a difference and become down on yourself. This can lead to a series of simple mistakes, or you can miss important information about a patient or scheduled meeting. At the rate, medicine is evolving; if you miss something important, your whole career can fall.
Take These Precautions to Prevent Physician Burnout
1. Make Sure you Get Enough Exercise or Other Activity
We all know the saying, “physicians make terrible patients.” This is one of the reasons why. Day in and day out, they talk about the importance of physical activity to their patients and yet neglect making time for it in their own lives. Taking time to be physical improves your overall health, plus, it’s an excellent way to relieve stress.
2. Re-Evaluate your Career Goals
You can always look for positions at other facilities if you believe you aren’t the right fit where you are. Many physicians start a job in one location and find they need to change for various reasons. Maybe you have taken steps to help with burnout but still can’t move past it. Job satisfaction can have a significant impact on physician burnout. If you’re not happy at your job, there’s no way you can be satisfied with it.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Physicians rarely get enough sleep from the time they start medical school throughout their entire careers. Sleep is vital for good health and well-being and is one of the main ways to prevent burnout. Adults require between seven to nine hours of sleep to feel refreshed and ready to work. This may mean you will have to say no more frequently and impose more boundaries.
4. Spend Time with Friends and Family
When people start to feel burnt out, they begin to stop hanging out with friends and family. Social isolation leads to feeling more tired and withdrawing from others. Make sure to schedule time to hang out with friends and go out with others.
5. Add Mindfulness to Your Daily Activities
Just 10 minutes of mindfulness can change your day. Making simple changes to your daily habits such as meditation, yoga, or a meditative walk can improve your life significantly. If you are part of a religious or spiritual community, you can reach out to them, and they can suggest where to start.
Burnout can happen to any of us at any time, regardless of our career field. The main thing to remember is there are steps you can take to overcome it and feel better. Whenever in doubt, reach out to someone close to you for assistance.
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