The stress involved with being a physician can take a toll on physical and emotional health. When your workday involves keeping people alive, multi-tasking and being available for emergencies, the potential for physician burnout is high. And, of course there are also the added demands that family and friends place on you. You want to spend quality time with your family and form meaningful bonds within your community, but these things take time, which is in limited supply in a physician’s schedule.
Achieving a better work-life balance and avoiding physician burnout is possible if you work in a supportive work environment like the Elliot Health System. Here are some ways to avoid physician burnout with a better work-life balance.
Caring physicians spend much of their time meeting the needs of patients’ and staff needs. It’s easy to forget that you need to take care of yourself first when you spend most of your day caring for other people. Within the Elliot Health System, physicians are encouraged to take care of themselves so that they can perform their jobs at optimal levels.
It’s very important that you arrange time to tend to your personal needs. Avoid skipping lunches and other meals, and instead plan to step away from the sometimes high-intensity environment of the hospital or medical facility during breaks. On such breaks, consider taking a brisk walk outside and enjoy the beautiful changing seasons of New England weather, eating your lunch on a park bench instead of inside or even participating in a bit of midday exercise at the TaeKwonDo Center (where Elliot Health System physicians enjoy complimentary access). It is also very important to keep up with your personal health needs, including regular checkups and dental visits.
One of the most common ways that physicians feel stress is when they are made to feel that they should be doing something other than what they are doing, or to be someplace else. When you are engaged in an activity, whether it’s examining a patient, filling out a chart, or splashing with your kids at Six Flags New England, be present. Know that you are where you are supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to be doing.
The way to achieve this presence is to set boundaries. Although you need to be available during on-call hours, you shouldn’t feel you can’t be fully present with your family when you’re not officially on-call. Instruct staff as to your off-duty hours so they understand your boundaries. The same thing must be done with your family. Of course, you want to be informed of family emergencies or urgent situations, but you also want to be able to concentrate on work while you’re on duty. Setting boundaries with those you work and interact with will help you to avoid being pulled in opposite directions at inappropriate times.
No one can maintain the busy lifestyle of a physician and have a healthy work-life balance without proper nutrition. At the Elliot Heath System, physicians have access to a cafeteria with a full menu at discounted prices. In addition, nutrition counseling is available for physicians who may want guidance for optimal nutrition and health.
It can be far too easy to eat out of vending machines, skip meals or constantly eat on the run. But nourishment is the cornerstone to avoiding physician burnout. When your body feels nourished, your mental capacity will be at its peak, and you’ll be able to conquer the challenges that work and family bring.
These tips for avoiding physician burnout and achieving a better work-life balance will help you to enjoy a long and fruitful physician career.
Is your physician career lacking balance? Consider joining Elliot Health System!
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