Burnout affects everyone, no matter what job you have. However, medical professionals have more intense professional lives. You have to balance constant emergency cases, unhappy patients and potential bad outcomes. The long hours and emotional toll can affect your mental and emotional health. Use these tips to avoid burnout and find more joy in your career again.
Isolation can make burnout symptoms more intense. While it’s good to have supporting relationships in general, try to find more helpful support by developing friendships with your co-workers. As co-workers, you are all likely handling similar stresses and experiencing the same situations, so you can work through those feelings and stressors together. You’ll feel better just by talking about your shared challenges with people who truly understand.
It’s always a good idea to set boundaries between your work and home life whenever possible, whether or not you work in the medical field. However, it’s especially important in the medical profession to be able to healthily compartmentalize your work versus home life as you’re constantly caring for others. When you’re not on call, leave your email notifications alone. If conversations about work make you feel like you’re still on the clock, try to not talk about work when you’re home. Separating the two parts of your life will help your mind find peace and a quiet change of pace.
Many medical professionals don’t have time to prepare meals or even sit down for lunch while they’re working. While grabbing snacks from the vending machine might be the most convenient, these foods contain saturated fats and high caloric foods, which could actually make your burnout symptoms worse.
Avoid a blood sugar crash that can make your exhaustion worse by keeping a food diary throughout the week. This will help you grow in awareness of what foods you’re putting in your body. Then, you can reflect on what you eat most often and replace the unhealthy items with better alternatives that still fit your routine.
A healthy sleep schedule improves your concentration and alertness, which will deteriorate if you feel burned out. Prioritize your sleep by napping more frequently or setting a strict bedtime when you get home. After your body gets the chance to catch up on rest, you’ll feel like yourself again.
Breaks are possible, even for the busiest doctor or nurse. Sit down for at least five minutes during the workday, even if you can only do it once. Listen to nature sounds to relieve your growing anxiety and get back out on the floor with a positive frame of mind. Even minor breaks will make a huge difference in the intensity of your burnout, so try to maintain your daily breaks even when you don’t have much free time.
If you can’t make many adjustments to your professional life, you can still prevent burnout by scheduling appointments with your therapist. These visits will become healthy outlets for any stress you experience throughout your week, and you’ll get professional advice on how to appropriately handle it at home. Research therapists around your area who specialize in burnout or chronic stress to get the most out of your appointments.
Even if you were once excited to jump into the deep end of medical mysteries, surgeries or patient care, your career could still take a toll on your mental health – it happens even to the medical fanatics. So don’t underestimate the impact of burnout, and make sure you’re taking care of your mental health.
About the Author
Mia is a health and wellness writer and the Editor In Chief at Body + Mind. She specifically enjoys writing about women’s fitness, as well as mental health-related topics. When she’s not writing, Mia can usually be found reading poetry, taking a dance or cardio class, or hiking.