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Doctors around the world have battled against problems inflicted by Covid 19. Hospitals, which are stressful places at the best of times, experienced additional pressures. The heroic efforts of doctors were rightly applauded and given a spotlight. However, our thoughts and attention must not stray from the profession. There is a crisis that cannot be ignored – doctor burnout.
Research reveals a worrying picture amongst doctors. One in four doctors suggested that burnout was affecting their lives. These feelings of sadness and alienation are not just felt by young doctors who are just starting in hospitals but also by experienced doctors with many years under their belt – 30% of baby boomer doctors were found to be struggling with burnout syndrome.
Burnout syndrome significantly impacts how you approach your work, and it has a knock-on effect on your relationship with your family and close friends. You are likely to be less motivated to be your best self. Some doctors are even considering leaving their roles permanently. Also, many young people might be thinking twice about studying medicine due to a lack of work/life balance.
If you feel that your relationship with your work has changed, you must act. Signs of burnout at work are essential to look out for in any workplace, especially for doctors.
Signs of Burnout
Burnout at work is something that can manifest itself in multiple ways. It would help if you took the time to reflect on your day. Are your interactions with colleagues and patients exactly what you want them to be? Doctors are always looking to help everyone else, but putting yourself second all the time will lead to problems.
The most common signs of emotional and physical burnout at work are:
- Struggling to stay positive about the job and acting with increasing distrust and self-interest when engaging with others
- Failing to achieve the standards expected in terms of conduct and image.
- Feeling tired all the time.
The most difficult upshot of burnout is that you feel a shadow of your former self. You cannot reach the levels of performance that you know you are capable of. However, you are not letting anyone down! Burnout is common for doctors, and, now, it is a recognised problem across the globe.
7 Steps Toward Self Care
The situation for many can seem bleak. However, leaving the profession you love does not have to be the answer. Incorporating into your life more self-care can change the way you feel. We all must prioritise our wellbeing, especially now with so many changes happening in the work environment.
Self-care alone is not the answer, but these 7 steps can be a huge help. The essence of self-care is acknowledging the importance of your health. Pinpoint the things negatively affecting you. Then, you can start limiting these in your work and home life.
1. Focus on how you excel in the job and identify the parts of your day that you enjoy most.
2. Reach out to your colleagues, and don’t compare yourself to them.
3. Practice exercises and activities that can lift your mood – like yoga.
4. Don’t forget to make time to think.
5. Self care is more than a mental state, it also includes caring for your body.
6. Honour your needs (especially the small ones.)
7. Set healthy boundaries and create a powerful work/life balance.
Speaking to others is a crucial step. A recent research project revealed that group workshops amongst junior and senior doctors helped improve the mental health of the participants. Burnout is a hard thing to face. Please make sure you remember that everyone is vulnerable to it, regardless of whether they seem in control.
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