3 Simple Ways to Recover from Burnout: Woman PhysicianMar 10, 2023
As a woman, I appreciate how strong and resilient we can be. We're blessed with thick skin that allows us to approach challenges with bravery and positivity, pushing through stressful situations with determination and grace. However, this strength can also be a curse., Especially when we forget to pause or take a break. Our push-through attitude and determination can sometimes lead to burnout.
And as a woman physician, I've seen firsthand how prevalent this can be. So many of us push ourselves to the brink without realizing we are in it. Hear me out on this:
It's time to break this cycle and prioritize our well-being because, in the end, our health and happiness are just as important as any other responsibility we have.
It's amazing to witness how women physicians more often choose to fulfill and prioritize the needs of others over their own needs. Yes, it is a courageous act, but will it still be a bold move if, in the long run, our health and happiness are the ones being neglected?
Sister, there is nothing wrong with choosing yourself and your needs first.
Exhausting and Demanding Nature
Medical professionals are tasked with tremendous responsibility, and our work can be physically and mentally draining. Therefore, this comes as no surprise why clinician burnout is such a prevalent issue among physicians, particularly women. Many of us are expected to juggle multiple roles, including professional responsibilities, caring for our families, and maintaining our personal lives.
This constant juggling act of work-life integration can leave us feeling depleted and struggling to find a sense of balance. And yes, many of us get lost and defeated along the way, facing the consequences of burnout.
Burnout can take a significant toll on our physical and mental health. It can:
- Lead to feelings of emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment.
- Impact our performance at work, making it challenging to provide the highest quality patient care and serve others.
- Manifest in our overall well-being, leaving us feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and unfulfilled.
This is why it is essential to recognize the prevalence of burnout rates among female physicians and take proactive steps to address it. I want to emphasize that we cannot continue sacrificing our physical and mental health for our careers.
How to Recover from Burnout?
Working women often juggle multiple roles and responsibilities, from caring for our family members to pursuing our professional goals. This constant balancing act is one-way professional burnout becomes crippling, so it is crucial to prioritize our well-being and take the necessary steps to recover from it. Fortunately, the road to recovery is not an impossible one. With a little effort and self-care, we can reignite our passion, regain a positive mindset, and restore our energy for our work. I will share three simple yet effective ways YOU can recover from burnout and move forward with renewed motivation and purpose.
I started a podcast to describe my journey through physician burnout and out of it. (And, maybe back in again…because hey, we're human beings after all!) If you haven't listened to The Brave Enough Show, Start HERE.
1. Disconnect and Reflect
The first step toward recovery is acknowledging the problem and recognizing the symptoms of burnout. This may involve taking action and reflecting on your goals, identifying the triggers that lead to burnout symptoms, and understanding the physical and emotional toll it has on you.
In today's digital age, it's easy to feel tethered to our devices and the never-ending demands of our work environment. The constant notifications, emails, and messages can make it feel like we are always on call, always available, and always working. But it's important to remember that we are not machines; we need enough time to rest and recharge.
Taking time to disconnect and focus on self-care is crucial to maintaining physical and mental health. It's not just about taking a vacation or a weekend getaway, although those can be helpful. It's more about taking deliberate steps to detach from work, turn off our devices, and spend time doing things that nourish our souls.
A digital detox can be a powerful tool in this regard. By unplugging from social media, email, and other digital distractions, we can free up mental and emotional space to focus on other significant and joyful things. We can spend time with loved ones, read a good book, take a relaxing bath, or simply sit in quiet contemplation.
We need to make time for whatever helps us recharge and refocus. Of course, taking a complete break from work is not always possible, especially in this profession. But small steps can make a big difference. For example, turning off your phone during dinner or spending an hour in nature can be restorative and rejuvenating.
By taking time away from long hours of work and focusing on self-care, we can return to our physician role with a renewed mindset and motivation. We can be more productive, more creative, and more resilient. We can be better versions of ourselves at work and in our personal lives. After all, we owe it to ourselves to live full and healthy lives, both in and out of the workplace.
If you're a woman coach looking for the perfect opportunity to disconnect and reflect, The Coach's Retreat: A Brave Enough Retreat for Women Coaches may be just what you need. This retreat is designed to help women coaches or those in leadership positions step away from the demands of their busy lives and focus on self-care, personal growth, and professional development.
2. Set Healthy Boundaries
The second step is to set healthy boundaries. This may include taking breaks throughout the day, engaging in physical activity, connecting with friends and loved ones, and practicing mindfulness techniques such as meditation or yoga. Additionally, setting clear boundaries between work and personal life can help prevent burnout from spilling over into other areas of our lives.
As we navigate the demands of work and personal life with our unique challenges, maintaining a healthy balance between the two is more complicated. Unfortunately, this can often lead to burnout, significantly impacting physical and mental health. That's why establishing boundaries is essential to prevent burnout and promote work-life balance. Setting healthy boundaries involves identifying what is important to us and prioritizing those things. This can include:
- limiting long work hours
- delegating tasks
- saying no to extra responsibilities
By establishing these boundaries, we can create a sense of structure and control over our lives, which can help us to manage stress and avoid burnout.
However, I know that setting boundaries can be challenging, especially when we feel pressure to meet the expectations of others. That is why it is important to recognize that saying no to extra responsibilities or delegating tasks does not make you a terrible colleague or person. On the contrary, it can make us more effective in the long run by allowing us to focus on what matters.
To overcome these challenges, it can be helpful to communicate our boundaries clearly and assertively. Remember, establishing healthy boundaries is not selfish; it's essential for our well-being. By prioritizing what's important and limiting our time and energy, we can achieve greater success and fulfillment in our personal and professional lives.
If you're struggling to set healthy boundaries for yourself and prioritize your well-being, my book Brave Boundaries can be an excellent resource. In it, you'll learn practical strategies for setting limits and saying no, and tips to manage stress and address burnout.
3. Thriving Support System, All the Way
Finally, seeking support and connecting with a community of like-minded individuals is essential. This may involve joining a professional group or network, seeking mentorship or coaching, or simply connecting with colleagues with similar experiences. By building a support system, we can find comfort and motivation in knowing we are not alone in our struggles.
We all experience stress, challenges, and obstacles like time pressures that can leave us overwhelmed and alone. This is especially true in our professional lives, where we often face high-pressure situations, and the weight of responsibility can feel overwhelming. However, seeking support from colleagues, mentors, and loved ones can make all the difference in alleviating chronic stress, providing guidance, and promoting personal and professional growth.
If you're looking for the support of thriving women who will listen, help, and assist you on your journey, my community is here for you. This community comprises women from all walks of life who share a common goal: personal and professional growth.
The power of support cannot be overstated. A solid peer support network can provide a sense of community and belonging, thus making us feel less isolated and more connected to others. It's the best care possible, and it can also provide us with guidance from those who have walked a similar path and can offer invaluable insights and advice. But most importantly, support can help us navigate challenging situations, manage stress, and promote personal and professional growth.
If you're looking for even more support and connection with other women professionals, the BE 2023 Women's CME Mastermind Conference is the perfect event for you. This conference is designed specifically for women who want to take their personal and professional growth to the next level, with a focus on continuing medical education (CME) and networking.
As a woman physician, physician wellness is essential to prevent burnout and maintain passion for your work. Taking time to disconnect, setting boundaries, and having a healthy support system are easy ways to promote self-care and recovery.
Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury; it's a necessity.
Recovery is Possible
I am here to remind you that no matter how overwhelming and exhausting life may feel at this moment, recovery from burnout is possible. And let me tell you from my personal experiences the journey to reclaiming your passion, energy, and a sense of purpose will be worth every step. Sadly, burnout can leave us feeling drained, uninspired, and disconnected from the work we once loved. But here's the good news: you can reignite that spark within you. You can reclaim your joy and enthusiasm for life.
It won't be easy, but your effort will be worth it. Imagine waking up each day feeling energized and excited about the work ahead. Picture yourself thriving in your career, feeling fulfilled and accomplished with job satisfaction. These dreams are not out of reach. Recovering from burnout is a journey that requires self-awareness, self-care, and community support, and the key is to prioritize your well-being and commit to that journey. Remember to stick through it and emerge from the experience wiser and braver than you were before.
Let us show up for the world and ourselves what it means to be a woman physician - strong, resilient, and capable of greatness.
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