Practicing medicine is your primary obligation, a responsibility that can create stress. Unfortunately, the stress that physicians endure is reaching an all-time high. According to Medscape’s National Physician Burnout, Depression & Suicide Report 2019, over half of physicians either experience depression or feel burned out. This can lead to earlier retirement, and the shortage of coverage is taking a serious toll on hospitals nationwide.
So, what can you do to ensure that you don’t become one of the statistics? As important as it is to practice medicine, it’s important to practice self-care, too. “Self-care” has recently become a buzzword, but it’s not all face masks and smoothies, and it shouldn’t be brushed off as an unnecessary luxury. At its roots, self-care means setting aside time to engage in activities that boost mental, emotional, and physical health. Making time for yourself is important for your well-being—and it helps fight burnout. Remember, not all self-care is created equal. If you aren’t eager to drop a bath bomb in the tub and hop in, don’t worry; there are other options!
We’ve compiled a few quick and easy activities to incorporate into your weekly routine. If none of these suggestions hit home, they may help you brainstorm something that’s meaningful to you. Practicing self-care should never become another stressor in your life or something you dread completing. Read on for seven easy suggestions:
Keep a journal with three highlights of each day
Take a little time to reflect at the end of the day. Although completing full journal entries could be a little too much to keep up with, three quick bullets shouldn’t be too hard. Think about what happened today. Did a patient say something meaningful? Did you finally accomplish a long-awaited personal or professional goal? Keep track of the smaller things, too. Record a few moments that made you smile. At the end of each day, try to review your entries so you finish the day on a positive note. As those moments collect, the journal becomes a wonderful reminder of your days’ highlights. When you’re feeling discouraged, sit down and flip through the journal’s pages.
Do something creative
Are you a painter? Singer? Writer? As a medical provider, much of your day is spent performing analytical and symptom-based work. Take a break from the meticulous side of things and indulge in a quick reprieve. Taking time for these outlets can help alleviate burnout.
Schedule days (or at least a few hours) off
As a locum tenens physician, you have the freedom to make your own schedule, so make your arrangements intentionally. Maintain a calendar and color-code your time off.
As you accept or decline assignments, block in small vacations to recharge your batteries. Whether you’re jetting off to Aruba or spending a few days on a “staycation,” take the time to escape the four walls of the hospital.
Likewise, during your assignments, block off some time to decompress and put it on the calendar so it really happens. Maybe you didn’t book a flight or a hotel room for a getaway, but you can still honor the time as a commitment to yourself.
Don’t forgo your passion or hobby
You probably have one thing that fills you with joy. Unfortunately, when responsibilities dominate most of your day, it’s easy to forgo something that isn’t “required.” Try to change your mindset. Whether you’re an avid runner, golfer, or quilter, make time for an activity that gives you joy.
Think of your passion or hobby as an appointment with yourself that you can’t cancel. You owe it to your mental well-being, and to your patients, to stay grounded.
Like your passions or hobbies, it’s easy to skip a trip to the gym or your favorite workout class because you’re too tired. Exercise is often seen as something to work into your day instead of a mandatory part of your routine. Even if you must modify your plan, keep time blocked out for your physical health.
If your environment is chaotic, your life often feels chaotic, too. Buried in paperwork and case notes at the hospital? Constantly searching for things that you keep misplacing? Arriving home to clean surfaces and organized closets can help put your mind at ease.
Throw on some of your favorite tunes or a long-anticipated podcast or audiobook and get to work! Purging old items and maximizing functional living spaces provides instant gratification and makes you feel lighter. It might not seem like the most fun activity, but you’d be surprised how quickly little improvements contribute to a brighter outlook and less overall stress.
Call Medicus Healthcare Solutions at 855.301.0563 to explore locum tenens opportunities with an experienced recruiter, and read our blogs for tips, the latest news and trends, and other helpful information.