Stress and burnout are bad news for medical professionals, but they're also very common. You can end up experiencing a wide range of symptoms and results due to the combination of the two, from depression to bad patient outcomes. Fortunately, some everyday habits can make it less likely that you get to the point where you're completely burnt out and no longer able to work in the healthcare field.
[RELATED: Find out everything you need to know about physician burnout and promoting well-being.]
Mindfulness can help you center your thoughts and get your mind into the present. Focus on particular areas in the room that you're in, or simply let your mind become aware of everything around you. Since you can do a mindfulness session quickly, you have the opportunity to fit it in between patients or tests.
What does burnout look like for you? Everyone has their own responses to a major burnout, from apathy to leaving the medical field entirely. You might not know what the symptoms look like in the stages before you get completely burned out. The Well-Being Index is a self-evaluation assessment tool that gives you the opportunity to gauge your burnout levels and the symptoms that you're experiencing.
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), is an esteemed organization that sets standards for training and preparing residents and fellow physicians. The Resident/Fellow Well-Being Index is an ACGME-validated self-assessment tool that provides access to tools that identify symptoms of depression and burnout, then offers resources to combat them. Implementing a wellness program that provides an ACGME-accredited self-evaluation tool can benefit your organization tremendously.
3. Breathing Exercises
Deep, slow breathing is another way to quickly destress and bring yourself back to the moment. Several smartphone applications are available that can guide your breath. If you enjoy meditation, you can also fit in a brief session when you get a few minutes in your schedule.
4. Quality Sleep
Are you getting enough sleep? Many positions in the medical field make it difficult to get quality sleep, but a lack of it can lead to a lot of long-term problems. Outside of burnout, it also impacts your judgment, can lead to depression and may even be a contributing factor in weight issues. Look for ways to improve your sleep length and quality, such as getting a white noise machine, investing in a quality mattress and getting screened for sleep disorders.
5. Balanced Schedule
How much time do you spend on activities unrelated to your medical profession? While it may be difficult to get a fully balanced schedule, taking the opportunity to see friends and have quality time with family can make the difference. You need some time to decompress and relax.
ACGME standards require that a wellness plan recognizes the importance of a balanced schedule of work, time with family and friends, and time to attend to personal needs.
6. Support Groups
An online support group or community can help you feel connected with people going through the same things you are. You can also attend an in-person support group, although this might not be an activity that you can schedule on a daily basis. If you prefer one-on-one support, counselors, therapists and similar professionals may be able to help.
7. Healthy Diet
A meal made out of vending machine snacks might seem like a good idea when you're juggling multiple patients and you have no time to sit down to eat, but it takes a toll on your body. Look for ways to prepare healthy food at work and home. Consider using grocery delivery and meal box services to cut down on the time you spend making the food. Many grocery stores are turning their attention to healthier prepackaged options, so your lunches and dinners might be as easy as picking something up on the way home.
Lastly, one way to not deal with stress or burnout is to be quiet about it. Coping mechanisms like ignoring the issue or pushing yourself past the point of exhaustion are completely inefficient, and will not resolve your feelings of stress and burnout.
Staying away from stress and burnout as a medical professional is difficult. These everyday habits get you on the right track to address these issues and help you cope with the difficulties of the job.