Here are the statistics:
Over the last 25 years, repeated studies have show an average of 1 in 3 doctors suffer from symptomatic physician burnout on any given office day. Recent surveys show burnout rates in US doctors topping 50% ! Some surveys – typically among surgeons – show physician burnout rates over 70%.
Physicians are not the only ones suffering. There is no reason to think nursing burnout, or administrator burnout are any less prevalent. CEO turnover in Healthcare is the highest of all measured industries. Now, add COVID-19 into the mix and it’s a burnout nation.
Any level of exhaustion and sarcasm/cynicism/patient blaming that does not respond to time off is of concern.
If you notice these symptoms getting worse over time — regardless of whether or not you feel you are doing good work — head’s up. You are on a physician burnout trajectory and will end up at a dead end if things don’t change.
1. Release Stress with the “Squeegee Breath”
The following technique is like a window washer’s squeegee. In a single stroke it can wipe you clean of stress, allowing you to see clearly and be present with your patients. Here’s how to take a “Squeegee Breath”
=> Take a big breath – up to the top of your head – and hold it for a 3 count => Then exhale all the way to your toes inviting any stress, tension or worry out with your out breath => Hold the full exhale for a 3 count => Then allow your breath to breathe normally.
Go ahead and try it now ….
=> INHALE to the top of your head (…2…3)
=> EXHALE AND RELEASE to the tips of your toes (… 2… 3)
=> Allow your breath to breathe normally
How does that feel?
Now, tomorrow at work take this “Squeegee Breath” each time you touch a doorknob to go in the room with a patient … and see what difference you notice in the quality of your day.
Create more balance with “It’s been too long”
Try this simple method to refill your emotional bank account:
What is one relationship you have been feeling a need to pay more attention to lately … someone would like to connect with and it feels like it has been too long? It might be your mom or dad, spouse or significant other, one of your children, a friend.
GRAB YOUR CALENDAR right now, connect with them and schedule a “date” for sometime in the next two weeks. Minimum of 15 minutes – on the phone or in person.
2. Set boundaries.
This requires some self-control. If you need to leave work by 5 p.m. to pick up your child from daycare but you’re finishing patient charts at 5:30, then you’re not setting good boundaries at work. If you stay up late to binge on Netflix and don’t get enough sleep, you’re not setting good boundaries for sleep hygiene.
3. Engage in healthy activities.
Get enough sleep, eat healthy foods and exercise. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not perfect. If you can’t walk for 30 minutes at lunch, then walk to a bathroom or refill your water bottle on another floor. If the taco bar is tempting, fix a taco salad rather than a loaded burrito.
Then show up and see how it feels.