Coming up in March, our healthcare professionals will be entering their third year of the global pandemic. This means three years of being covered in heavy head to toe PPE, back to back 12+ hour shifts and all while trying to maintain a semi-normal family and friend life. The point is, burnout among this group can be high, here are a few tips on how to build resilience and avoid burnout.
Dr. Gail Gazelle MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard University and Master Certified Coach for physicians, lists her top 5 tips for healthcare workers, particularly physicians, looking to build resilience and avoid burnout.
“The stresses of working in healthcare are many, and one thing all but absent in our training is how to cope with them. To run the marathon of a medical career, it is critical to learn resilience strategies. They make the difference between burnout and a career of meaning and satisfaction.” says Dr. Gazelle.
Tip #1: Give yourself credit
Working in healthcare, we can be so focused on problems that we can overlook things that are going well, in patients and also in ourselves. To build resilience, be sure to take stock of your strengths and accomplishments. Every evening, make a list of 3 things you did well that day.
Tip #2: Don’t run on empty
If you’re like most of your peers, you are all too good at taking care of others and not great at caring for yourself. You may consider your own needs frivolous or inconsequential. To build resilience, you need to maintain your physical, emotional, and psychological energy level. Examples of things that may fill your tank include:
- Spending time with loved ones
- Listening to your favorite music
- Doing something in nature
- Reading a non-medical book
Tip #3: Build moments of calm into your day
Whether it’s sitting in quiet meditation, taking a short walk, or simply creating a timeout in your schedule, it’s key that you have some time each day when you can recharge yourself. Even brief moments of calm can increase your ability to weather all the stresses you face. They may even lead to greater efficiency in your day.
Tip #4: Overcome the Imposter Syndrome
In the hundreds of physicians I’ve coached, the incidence of the Imposter Syndrome is over 80%. Almost all physicians are walking around feeling like imposters. The Imposter Syndrome is a very debilitating condition that erodes self-esteem, leads to excessive rumination, and contributes to the exhaustion of burnout. One strategy to overcome I.S. is realizing that it is simply a thought process, nothing more.
Tip #5: Practice self-compassion
We in healthcare can be our own most harsh critics, telling ourselves that others are smarter, more adept at diagnosis and treatment, and have their lives more together than us. To run the marathon of a medical career, we need to learn how to support ourselves, and how to bring the same compassion to ourselves that we bring to our patients.