“Burnout,” a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion, plagues medical professionals worldwide. According to Medscape’s 2020 National Physician Burnout & Depression Report, 42 percent of physician respondents experience burnout.
Unfortunately, this high level of stress often begins in medical school, only intensifying as a physician’s career progresses. Not to mention, external factors can severely increase the already existing pressure.
Burnout leads to several consequences, including irritability, weakened immune systems, and medical errors. Extremely unhappy physicians tend to lose sight of their love for medicine, reduce their hours, leave their practices, and consider early retirement.
To maintain a happy career, it’s important to make your personal wellness a priority throughout your medical journey and engage in effective coping mechanisms. No matter what is happening around you, try to remember that your health is essential. In honor of National Stress Awareness Month, we are providing five healthy ways to help physicians combat stress and burnout.
- Make time for a hobby
Time away from the hospital (no matter how little) improves your overall well-being. It’s important to take advantage of your time at home to truly recharge. Plus, you have something to look forward to at the end or beginning of your days. Blocking in downtime allows you to hit the refresh button. Whether you read a few chapters of a good book or try a new recipe, be sure to indulge in activities that make you happy. When you return to the hospital, you’ll be surprised by your fresh outlook!
- Get moving
Exercise is a healthy way to destress; endorphins are natural stress-zappers! Even if you only have time for a quick walk, it’s a refreshing change of scenery. If you’d rather strengthen your mind and body, check out a yoga or barre classes (many are available online for your convenience). For more intense workouts, consider HIIT training. For the cardio lover, hop on a bike or go for a run. No matter your interest or physical ability, there’s an array of activities available to help you get up and get your blood flowing.
- Mental wellness
Depending on the person, spirituality can have a variety of meanings. No matter your outlet, find an activity that makes you feel grounded, whether it’s meditation, a religious affiliation, or simply immersing yourself in nature. Once you have your preferred method, incorporate it in your schedule.
- Fuel your body
It’s important to get a consistent amount of sleep and eat a balanced diet. You’ll find that if you sleep too little (or too much), your performance can slip. Similarly, eating improperly can cause you to feel sluggish and can impact your ability to focus. Even though you may have to schedule these necessities into your day, allotting time for healthy meal prep or getting an extra hour of sleep ensures that your body is taken care of, which benefits you significantly in the long run.
- Quality time with loved ones
The minute your career starts to encroach on your time with your family and friends, it can put stress on those relationships and negatively impact your mental health. Don’t sacrifice memories and quality time. Even if you’re restricted to video chat, make sure you remain connected and take a small break from the hospital! Being in the moment and dedicating time, no matter how little, helps lift your spirits and make you feel more balanced.