Healthcare is under-strain. Doctors that continue to aspire to offer high quality of treatment to patients are familiar with trying to do more with less. Your job can be intense and it brings immense responsibility for which you have no authority or power. Your patients are vulnerable and in pain sometimes. It needs your emotional energy to give them the care and love they deserve, which can leave you feeling exhausted.
And while your job gives you meaning and happiness, this may have a drawback. Studies have shown that doctors tend to be conscientious and have perfectionist characteristics that can lead to the setting of incredibly high standards and overwork. These tendencies could lead to your work bleeding into home life, making it difficult to turn off the job’s pressures and strains.
The first step in taking better care of yourself is to build self-awareness1 in order to recognize when you don’t cope as well as you should. The signs can be physical, emotional, and behavioral, and any of the following could be included:
- Low focus
- Lack of energy and efficiency
- Annoyance and irritability
- Abuse of substances
- Lower standards for work
- Changes in behavior-and inappropriate-
This list is not exhaustive and it is necessary to accept this if you just don’t feel yourself.
Take control and prioritize yourself
If you have signs of burnout, the next step is to accept it, in order to continue competently taking care of your patients. To better care for yourself, you also need to carve out space-and not feel bad about it! Recognize and agree that you need space for your physical and mental well-being, to spend time with those around you, and to reconnect with your work with what you enjoy.
Doctors are also hesitant to seek assistance for their well-being, perhaps afraid of stigma or raising concerns about their clinical abilities and ability to cope. Feel secure communicating with your own GP about certain symptoms or via a confidential service.