BURN BRIGHT, NOT OUT!
Anyone who thinks I’m here for some “gyaan” should know that I’m not!
This article is written from the perspective of a 21-year-old who overcame her dilemma and chose medicine, is still clueless about life, struggles to make each day productive, cribs at not having enough hours to wind off her to-do list, fails to live up to the superhuman expectations she has set for herself; yet has her happy hours, wholesome days, peaceful weeks and momentous months.
“I’m not sad, nor depressed. I’m burnt out”
Burnout – a word I’ve come across several times since the time I entered college but I never really understood its essence till I very recently experienced it myself. While it does not have a distinct clinical diagnosis, there are signs to identify it – emotional exhaustion, lack of motivation, physical fatigue associated with frequent headaches, GI disturbances, self-doubt, inability to find yourself in a happy space, cynicism, and feeling detached from the rest. While scrolling through the web and finding people in the same shoes as mine, I realized that none of us has found the best ways to deal with it yet. But these kinds of discussions and portals are where solutions are born; hence I hope to learn ten more ways to overcome it through my journey of writing this piece.
Burnout is everybody’s business, but with the highest suicide rate in our line of work, medicos are found to be the worst sufferers. The practice of medicine is not stressful but the unforeseen downsides in our profession are what make us feel sad and incompetent. Here are a few theories; I’ve created over time and also some time-tested ones that might just work for you.
First – Recognise! Identify your triggers & track your stress levels. Ask yourself what exactly is leading you to feel a particular way. Learn about the behaviours and habits that pull you down. Eliminate the exposure and treat it symptomatically.
Second – React! To perform at one’s best, Ben Meer enlists 7 different kinds of rests.
PHYSICAL REST – Exercise, a nutritious diet, and 8 hours of sleep are every mom’s ‘triad’ of solutions to every problem. A brisk walk with your earphones on with some lofi music/a podcast/dreamy Bollywood playlist helps. Guided yoga sessions, diaphragmatic breathing, and virtual Zumba workouts are some proven techniques that help release feel-good hormones in the body. When we are in a better place physically, we feel better mentally and emotionally. (still in the process of acing this)
SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL REST – Spend time with your family, your most trusted support system. Stay connected, I mean it. I’m fortunate to find people from three different generations who are my punch bags and give me the much-needed reality checks often and always. Similarly, your friends/colleagues/seniors/juniors; the ones you spend the most time with, are the ones who affect you the most. Find 5 people you like to be around, with whom you can be authentic. Communicate your worries, tell them if they are a reason for your sadness, verbalise your emotions, and hear them out. (I know how my friends would react if they read this)
SENSORY REST – take a break from social media and sit in a relaxing ambience. Get off Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Reddit for a while. You won’t need a special social detox day if you spend a considerable amount of time in a day without it. Half an hour after you wake up and half an hour before sleep, try to be with yourself alone. Use app timers to limit your screen time and take up a wellness activity instead.
‘An activity that allows you to use your imagination is an antidote to burnout’. – Jardin Dogan
MENTAL REST – Journal your thoughts; voice record your feelings, get on a zoom call with yourself, or simply scribble them off in a notebook. I’ve tried this often and it helped me decompress after an emotionally taxing day.
CREATIVE REST – Be ambitious but learn to refuse tasks that force you to go beyond your body’s physical and mental ability. Practice calmness, patience, and empathy not only with your patients but yourself as well. Be GOOD ENOUGH & eliminate the perfectionist in you. You will never find yourself to be the ultimate at something. Learn from your mistakes but don’t keep beating yourself over them, because to err is human.
‘A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A series of such moments can change the course of your life.’ – Cristopher K. Germer
SPIRITUAL REST – Celebrate your blessings and pay gratitude to the universe by indulging in faith-based or volunteer activities, and performing purpose-driven jobs.
So, complete your rest deficits and then hit the ground running.
Wishing you all a great, stress-free day at work today!
- Johnson, B. (2022) 10 quotes to help conquer your burnout, HER BAGS WERE PACKED. HER BAGS WERE PACKED. Available at: https://www.herbagswerepacked.com/blog/burnout-quotes (Accessed: February 8, 2023).
- Bureau, E.H.N. (2023) Stress among healthcare workers: Physician, heal thyself!!, Express Healthcare. Available at: https://www.expresshealthcare.in/amp/news/stress-among-healthcare-workers-physician-heal-thyself/437598/ (Accessed: February 8, 2023).