Doctor, you are not indispensable: put yourself first for a change!

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Although you may believe that you are indispensable, you might, one day, become unable to work. Perhaps you develop an illness which means you must take time away from work to recover fully either physically, emotionally or both. 

You may not want to take this time away from work although you are told that it is vital you do, or circumstances may mean you have no choice because  of the type of work you do or the type of treatment you have to undergo.

Doctors, like you, are particularly bad at taking necessary time away from work to fully recover. You feel guilty at letting your  patients down and even more, you realise your  colleagues will have to do much more work to cover for your  absence until you return or how quickly a locum is found.

You know that even with good locum cover there will be a considerable number of their patients who would rather wait to see their ‘own’ doctor when you return. 

All these factors can result in you not taking enough time to fully recover from your illness and so you may return and be less able to cope with the work load, take more time to do simple tasks and are not able to work as efficiently or even as competently as before.

What is the alternative? If you are a doctor who is or becomes ill then what you must do is to  be more ‘selfish’. The word ‘selfish’ may have bad connotations for you. 

Think about it meaning ‘self-care’.

When you take more care of yourself and your own needs, you will cope much more effortlessly with those of your patients. Relax Note Showing Less Stress And Tense

Don’t wait to find solace in drink or drugs, or until you reach crisis point. Find someone to encourage and support you unconditionally.  Don’t wait until you become so exhausted that you become ‘burnt out’ and have to take early retirement on health grounds. 

Instead put yourself first for a change. Listen to what you are advised to do and decide whether you can do that. Put your own needs to recover fully at the top of your agenda and don’t let guilty feelings about letting people down get in the way of your personal needs to recovery time.  

It’s a hard lesson to realise that you are dispensable but it’s true.  So do the best for you and then you will be in the best state to get on with whatever you want.

What is on the top of your agenda when you are ill or becoming burnt out? Please add your comments by clicking the ‘leave a comment button at the top of this post.

PS If you haven’t already got your free copy of Lifestyle coaching for doctors please complete the form in the sidebar —>>> and get yours before I take it down!

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Are you a Doctor who needs CPR?

Are you a Doctor who needs CPR?(Confidential Personal Readjustment)

Life as a doctor can be very stressful. Sometimes both you and others may wonder how you keep going with so much to do and so little time to do it. How many of the following challenge you?

  • lack of work-life balance
  • keeping up to date
  • excessive demands on your time
  • insufficient funding to get the work done
  • unreasonable demands made of you
  • paperwork
  • clutter
  • complaints
  • change
  • political pressure
  • un-read journals
  • emails
  • too little time with family or friends
  • unable to ‘switch off’ when on holiday
  • taking work home
  • lack of self-care

If any or all of the above resonate with you then you are not alone.

  •  Doctors who have too much to do in too little time – organise your time more effectively
  • Doctors who worry about whether they have made the correct diagnosis and prescribed the right treatment – let go of the need for perfection.
  • Doctors who wonder if they made the right career choice – step back and consider all of your options.
  • Doctors who don’t feel valued as no-one seems to care for them – start to care more about yourself  others value you more.
  • Doctors who don’t look after their own needs – define what these are and make time to address them each week.
  • Doctors who self-medicate or turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the day-to-day stress – recognise when you need support and ask for it.
Who heals the healers?
Who heals the healers?

If you are demoralised, overwhelmed, tired, stressed, undervalued and wonder if this is the way life as a doctor has to be, and wonder how you might be able to change things for the better, read on, Consider what you could do now to start to have the life you really want, before it all gets too much. It IS possible to have a life and be a doctor. A recent client wrote: Susan helped me look for the inside me. The person who wonders and enjoys rather than the one who is worried and stressed. She taught me about the journey of life, of taking control over my own journey, and recognising the choices that are there. It was most helpful that she had worked as a doctor, because she understood how ingrained we are. When I signed on for life coaching I was ready to take the enormous step of giving up my job as a GP. That is what I wanted to do but didn’t know how it could be possible. Susan helped me realise that this was just the first step of an exciting journey. I cannot know where it will take me, but I am now looking forward to it! Susan’s warm and straightforward approach was just what I needed from a life coach. She manages to balance professionalism with humour and good sense. She has masses of insight and is refreshingly optimistic. I wonder if my life would have turned out differently if I had found out about Susan and her telephone coaching sooner. FR General Practitioner What can YOU do? If you want tools, ways to change, and questions to make you think, you will find the following resources useful.

  1. Read my books: http://www.thedoctorscoach.co.uk/books
  2. Sign up for a Prescription for Change Discovery Session

 

life as a doctor

Burnout: prevent it developing for you ….

What do you do when you can’t go on any longer, when even the thought of seeing another patient almost paralyses you?

doctor with headacheIf that has ever happened to you then you no longer have a choice: you know you have to get away, out of the work environment, away from patients and managers, away from all the demands made of your body, mind and spirit and take some time out, to rest and recuperate.

Don’t wait until you can no longer cope – it is vital to schedule time for you. As a doctor you may be particularly blind to the fact that you are vulnerable just like anyone else who is experiencing  stress and overwhelm and inadequate support.

Be clear about boundaries and stop full blown burnout from developing : that means saying  ‘no’ to excessive demands; saying ‘yes’ to taking adequate rest time for food and exercise during the working day; getting outside for a few minutes and taking some deep breaths as you concentrate on your breathing and getting rid of tension in your body.

Say ‘yes’ to having a more balanced life as it’s the only one you’ve got and there are ways to be a doctor and have a life.

What do you do to prevent burnout? Please add your comments.

 

 

Looking after yourself!

Mistakes Doctors Make that keep them……

There are three massive mistakes that doctors make that keep them feeling tired, stressed and frustrated.

Who heals the healers?
Who heals the healers?

Many doctors believe that overwork is part of being a doctor. They complain of  a constant feeling of pressure and of frustration of not getting things done. not having enough time to do the things they really want to do. They neglect their lives outside of work because Medicine takes over their lives.   The three mistakes the make are:

3. Neglecting your  own health and well-being. This   means looking after your body, mind and spirit so you can be happy and  fulfilled. You can do this  by eating healthily, taking regular exercise and connecting with spirituality, by connecting with nature, meditation, or in formal religious  practice.

Connect with Nature and feel refreshed
Connect with Nature and feel refreshed

You cannot  expect to be fit and well while eating junk food, never taking exercise, taking  excessive alcohol and smoking and never taking time to watch a beautiful sunset or waves crashing on the shore.

Connecting with nature
Connecting with nature

This is important because when you are look after yourself you can better look after your patients.  When you don’t care about yourself how can you give the best care to your patients? You could start by taking a walk each day; eating regular meals and avoiding unhealthy food and doing something outside to  connect with nature.

2. Not finding the time to keep in contact with friends and family Relationships with people outside of your work environment are important because throughout your life there is a bond between family and friends that is very different from that between you and patients or colleagues at work. Usually friends and family are there for you, whatever the ‘ups and downs’ in your professional life, so don’t neglect these relationships. Even if separated by distance you can do this by meeting regularly or speaking on the telephone or via the internet.

1. Not taking ‘time out’ for rest, relaxation and re-charging your personal batteries. Even doctors are not mechanical machines and you need time doing something else apart from work.  When you do this you return to work feeling refreshed and enthusiastic once again. Taking ‘time out’ means rest or recreation away from your work.  This can be achieved in various ways: You could:

  • Take a few minutes between patients to close your eyes, concentrating on slow breathing in and out . You may want to think about breathing in relaxation and breathing out tension as you do this, or simply count slowly as you breathe in and out.
  • Get away from your clinic, ward or office for at least twenty minutes for a break during the day. Take the opportunity to take a walk outside especially if you can walk by a river or in a park. At the very least take a walk around the block.
  • Make a regular commitment to see a film each week or go to a concert or theatre : on your own can be as refreshing as with company.
  • Have  a  few days  away, for a complete change of scene and a chance to really get away from it all.
  • Take several months away from work  as a ‘sabbatical’

This article written by Susan Kersley, first appeared on http://doc2doc.bmj.com/

Let me know what you think on the form below:

 

Time out for doctors

IMG_2212What was most important to the doctors who participated in Connect and Change in Cornwall last weekend was that the group were all doctors.  It was vital to understand  each other’s points of view and life experiences. Although we were all at different stages of our journey from Medicine to a life either after Medicine, or a life in Medicine, but without the burn-out, we all wanted to be able to live in the way we wanted to live, and there was a definite  commonality, understanding and connection between us, that non-medics might not have appreciated.

There was a strong sense of gratitude for the chance to take time out away from home and work, yet a strong reluctance to advertise what they were doing this weekend  to their colleagues.

Everyone needs time to be listened to, have the chance to  bounce ideas onto someone who understands but doesn’t tell them what to do, and also time to process new ideas and consider alternatives when life has become overwhelming.

We had already stretched our bodies with yoga before indulging in a delicious breakfast:   before a day to Nurture the Nurturer.

On Friday it was a glorious day and we walked and thought and connected with the fresh sea air and the rocks and the beauty of a Cornish beach. We found lovely pebbles and later decorated these with sparkles. We made a treasure map which showed what we really wanted in life.

Later we played with percussion instruments and made  harmonies and had fun creating amazing sounds.

We foraged for wild foods and prepared and then ate a slow cooked meal. It was a chance for a small group of medics to connect with each other and with me and together we planned what to do next for journeys of change.

 When you feel overwhelmed by patients and work load, take a little time each day to connect with your breath for a few moments. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Experience how empowering it is to be mindful, to be in the moment.  A few minutes  letting worries about the past or the future  drift by and connecting with your breath is a powerful technique we experienced in the session on mindfulness. It’s a technique that every doctor could use when feeling stressed and overwhelmed by huge work load.

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Time for something different?

Doctor, running around ragged?

I remember what that feeling of overwhelm was like when there wasn’t time to finish one task before more and more were demanded: from ‘Doctor, this won’t take a minute, can you just take a look at so and so’ to ‘You haven’t dictated all the letters yet,’ or ‘I put a couple of extras onto your clinic list for today, I knew you wouldn’t mind.’

How do you describe that feeling of ‘running round ragged’?  Please click ‘leave a comment’ at the top of this post and tell me.

Doctor, do you procrastinate……?

…….and then miss your chance to do something you really want to do!! We all have our differing ways to make decisions about something especially if it involves stepping out of your comfort zone. What do you do? Wait to hear what your colleagues say, or your partner? or your friends? or go by your gut reaction and take a leap of faith to jump into the unknown?  Do put your comments in the box below!!

 If you’ve been procrastinating about coming to Cornwall in April for Connect and Change -there are very few places left so contact me to find out if one of them is for you!!

Doctor, Is Medicine eating you up?

Don’t delay your life until  you reach a certain  point in your career: to remain a whole person make sure you look after yourself body, mind and spirit. When you do that you will be a whole person who also can cope much better with the stress of working as a doctor.

New Year Resolutions: what I’ve learned!

Happy New Year
Happy New Year

It’s the start of another  New Year  and everyone, including me, is  making New Year resolutions.

But is it worth doing this? Will making resolutions lead to disappointment when I fail to keep to them for more than a few days? Or will I feel elated and happy that I’ve managed to change some habits which need to be changed?

What I’ve learned over many years of making resolutions at this time of the year is as follows:

  • It’s useful to make resolutions even if I don’t stick to them.
  • Resolutions indicate that I am aware that something in my life is making me unhappy, frustrated or angry and I  realise the need for change. When I make a resolution what I’m saying to myself is that I recognise the problem and  know things could be different. I may not have actually worked out how they could be different but at least I’ve taken a step forward, by being more aware.
  • I need to be more specific in the resolutions I make.
  • A resolution is just that: a statement that I’ve resolved to make a change in my life, hopefully for the better. I know I want something different and I’m stating this by making a resolution.
  • But a resolution is just that: a statement of intent – it doesn’t necessarily identify the steps I will need to take to achieve what I want. It doesn’t specify how long it will take me to achieve, so possibly leading to me giving up after a few days when I haven’t achieved something which might take months rather than days to happen.
  • Nor does it say how I can identify exactly what success at getting  that resolution completed will actually mean in practical terms.
  • If I say I want to get fitter, for example, how exactly do I  plan to do this? What does the term ‘fitter’ actually mean to me? If I want to lose weight, how much weight will it take to satisfy myself that I’ve achieved what I resolved?

What I’ve learned is that it’s a great exercise to make resolutions so long as I am very clear what I want and how I’ll get to it and be able to congratulate myself for any changes I make however small and however short lived.  Some changes need to be attempted many times before they become permanent , so it’s important that I don’t give up yet!

 
Happy New Year

What are you resolving to do to improve your work life balance so that you can be a doctor and have a life? Please put your comments in the box below!

PS Booking for Connect and Change must close at end of January 2014 or sooner when last 3 places filled. Don’t miss this opportunity!!

 

5 Ways for a doctor to easily improve work-life balance

 Perfect Work Life Balance
Perfect Work Life Balance

1. Decide what changes you want to make

If you know that the balance in your life is not ideal and it falls far too much on the side of work, it’s time to make appropriate adjustments in the way you live your life. The vital first step is to decide precisely what you want to change and then how you will go about making that change. Too often people are very clear about what they no longer want to happen but haven’t yet clarified what they want instead.

2. Do things you haven’t considered doing before

Because you have got stuck into a rut  in relation to the way you spend your days it’s important to brainstorm all sorts of new ideas, including whatever comes into your head, especially noting possibilities which you might not have considered before. At this stage don’t think too deeply about the practicalities. Those come later.

3. Keep on track with your projects 

Of course however lacking in balance your life seems to be it is nevertheless important to get certain things done each day. So devise a way to keep on track with those essential jobs and ongoing projects while also being willing and ready to let go of those not so important or necessary.

4. Only promise what you can actually do

It’s very important to become much more aware of how often you agree to do things when you have neither the time or the energy to complete. This means setting new personal boundaries. Instead of saying yes to all and sundry begin to consider your own needs for rest and relaxation and time  and start to say no when you are unable or unwilling to oblige and do what has been asked of you.

5. Energise yourself

This means re-charging your personal batteries in whatever way works best for you. It may mean for example taking time out for meditation or relaxation or doing some strenuous exercise such as running or brisk walking.  Exercise such as yoga combines physical movements with relaxation and concentrating on the postures enables your mind to be re-energised too. Whatever you decide to do make sure it is combined with eating healthy foods most of the time, plenty of sleep and time spent away from work, time with friends family and partner is a great way to build your energy and not forgetting time for you to indulge in your hobbies and interests.

Making big changes in life can be very stressful, so it’s important not to neglect yourself during the transition. If you begin to feel overwhelmed by all the things you have to do when circumstances are new, you may not feel as confident as usual.  It’s important to remember to find some time just for yourself. Don’t only say yes to change, remember to say yes to time for rest and relaxation too. This might be making sure you have some fresh air during the day and eating lunch. It also means saying yes to leaving your work place to go home at a reasonable time, finding time to look after your body, mind and spirit. Movement can address all of these. This doesn’t have to be strenuous like going to a gym or running but could be yoga, tai chi or dance to  relax you after a hectic  day.

What can you do to  keep your body in good working order and improve  your general well being?



 

What do you do to improve your work life balance? Let me know  below!