Know the signs of burnout out and how to treat it.
Howard Baumgarten, LPC, has extensive experience working with physicians who feel burned out and says there are three categories of signs doctors should look for.Â
Category one: Physiological
Examples: Frequent headaches, gastro-intestinal issues, high blood pressure or other symptoms that are out of the norm.
Category three: Behavioral
Examples: Increased alcohol use, increased smoking, overspending, not sleeping or eating.
Once you are experiencing the symptoms of burnout, it’s important to fight it.
“Work-life balance is the goal,” says Baumgarten, noting that physicians may be in positions that can’t be entirely changed. “We are not looking to extinguish all the symptoms. The reality is about management.”
Daily strategies for promoting self-wellness are important for burnout prevention, says Baumgarten.
The four most important are:
Strategy one: Sleep
Aim for seven to eight hours, go to bed at the same time each night, and avoid screen time and drinking before bed.
Strategy two: Exercise
The goal is for a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise four to five times a week with some muscle-building exercises mixed in.
Strategy three: Nutrition
Avoid sugary and fried foods. Cook a larger healthy meal on a weekend and pull from it for meals later in the week.
Strategy four: Spirituality/joy
Do something that makes you feel good, whether it’s religious in nature or spending time on hobbies like painting, reading or being with friends.
While the solutions aren’t that complicated, Baumgarten says the challenge is working them into an already over-packed physician schedule. The key is to not try to do everything at once.
“Start with one simple thing and try to infuse it into your work schedule,” says Baumgarten. “Pick something that is a little out of your comfort zone but that you can commit to doing. It takes a good three weeks or so to fully commit to something.”
As time goes on, add more things.