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Doctors are stressed and many believe there is nothing they can do to make a difference to their lives. But it doesn’t have to be like that. When you make small changes you will experience work and life differently. Here are some suggestions to get you out of those prickly spots!
1. Get your boundaries really clear: don’t expect others to be mind-readers. Stop getting frustrated if colleagues, nurses, or secretaries don’t seem to understand what you want them to do: maybe you’ve made assumptions and haven’t been really clear about what you are expecting from them.
2. Decide what you want. When you know what it is you want then you will be more able to tell others and no longer have to put up with unsatisfactory performance.
3. Communicate clearly. Give a positive feedback sandwich if you are not happy with the way someone is behaving. Say something complimentary then get the to point about what it is you really want, finally end on something positive about them.
4. Be responsible for yourself rather than everyone else. You can’t be responsible for others. You may be avoiding making a decision for change because you think someone will be upset. Tell them what you are going to do and when and then allow them the chance to deal with it in their own way.
5. Improve your self-care. Stop neglecting your own needs for care of your body, mind and spirit in whatever ways are good for you.
What do these 5 things mean for you for a calm and happy you? Please comment in the box below.
We are coming to the end of another year and it’s the time when you may be making decisions about what you want next year. It seems to be an opportunity to do things differently and set out on a new path.
In spite of a huge number of resolutions made at the start of the year most people fail to keep them more than a few days of a few weeks at most. Resolutions are your goals and you need to plan how you will achieve them.
I’ve made a decision myself recently: after fifteen years of coaching doctors I have decided to concentrate more on writing books and coaching programmes instead of one to one coaching.
How about you?
What do you want to change or do differently next year?
You can make resolutions at any time. However there is the influence of others at New Year when your friends and family are asking you what you plan to do during the year ahead and so you may respond to the peer pressure to state your resolutions at this time too.
Trouble with New Year Resolutions is that they often don’t get kept for very long.
Before I stop one to one coaching I am offering just 6 people the chance to make the changes you want. CLICK HERE to find out more.
It’s always worth making resolutions even if you fail to keep to them. This is because doing so enables you to consider what you want different in your life and to at least start the process of change. You may not get to where you want but you will have at least acknowledged that you want to change something and once that thought has begun in you then eventually you will be able to make the change you want to make.
Let me help YOU make and MAINTAIN the change you want.
But this offer closes on December 31 2014
Create boundaries and do your very best to keep to them. However hard you try you can’t be perfect you can only be as good as you can be. That means learning when to stop and when to say ‘no’ if you are being asked to do something which you know either isn’t your job or you really don’t have the time or the skills to do it.
Decide how long you will spend worrying about a particular patient and when you reach your limit seek advice from colleagues. You learn by watching others and talking about what you find difficult. So stop worrying, identify the person who knows how to deal with the situation and ask for help and advice from them.
You don’t have to deal with every problem entirely alone. Talk to someone else about the parts of the job you find difficult and if necessary put aside time to learn the extra skills you need. This is better than struggling on for ages not really having much idea about what you are doing.
It’s OK to say ‘I don’t know what to do’ or ‘ I can’t deal with this situation, I need to talk to someone else about it.’ This is how you will learn what to do next time and it is the time-honoured way you can learn what to do.
Decide what can and can’t be achieved in the time available and set realistic goals. Plan to go home at the end of the day. The routine work will be there for you to continue next day. Learn to differentiate between the urgent and important, and urgent but not important (and who else could deal with those things) from that which is neither urgent nor important.
Place importance on your out of work life so that you don’t neglect it. There is a life outside of Medicine, even though your work takes a huge amount of time and energy, plan social events and don’t neglect your partner, friends and family. Be aware that life is more than Medicine and make sure you set aside some time each week to connect with friends and family and take part in activities completely unrelated to your work.
When you discover more balance between work and the rest of life you will feel better, have more energy, enjoy life more and get things into proportion.
Want to work with me to improve yours? CLICK HERE
Let me know your ways to improve work life balance.
We thrive on positive feedback. When someone says, as in ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ when Alice was asked to recite ‘You are old, Father William.’ she duly does so, and is then told by the caterpillar: ‘That was wrong from beginning to end…..’
How awful to be undermined in that way!
It’s a common experience amongst doctors to be ‘put down’ by their superiors, for example: how badly they have carried out a procedure or how wrong is their suggested diagnosis.
Have you ever experienced being humiliated in that way? Or have you done that to your juniors?
Even if it’s true that there are ways to improve your practice, it is so much better to praise whatever what is correct before suggesting ways to do better next time.
I remember as a medical student being the only female student around the bed of a patient (when I was studying medicine there was a strict quota of female medical students) I was picked on to present the patient’s history and examination and remember wanting to disappear into a hole in the floor that wouldn’t open up for me. The Prof. of Medicine looked over his spectacles and tut-tut as I didn’t say what was expected. ‘Come , come’, he said disapprovingly, ‘surely you know what this might be due to?’
I heard no word of praise for what I had answered correctly only putting me down for what I had not known. No offer of kind explanation for what I hadn’t understood. On reflection many of those medical student ward round memories were about being able to regurgitate facts and figures rather than demonstrating any ability to demonstrate understanding of the situation.
So, when you reflect on your experience of feedback from superiors and/or feedback you give to those you are teaching, aim to give more positive strokes and less undermining.
Please share your experience of this in the ‘Please leave a reply’ box at the very bottom of this page. Thank you.
Please add your comments by clicking the ‘leave a comment button at the top of this post.
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’.
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!
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?
If any or all of the above resonate with you then you are not alone.
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.
What do you do when you can’t go on any longer, when even the thought of seeing another patient almost paralyses you?
If 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.
There are three massive mistakes that doctors make that keep them feeling tired, stressed and frustrated.
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.
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.
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:
This article written by Susan Kersley, first appeared on http://doc2doc.bmj.com/
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What 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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