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.
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 becauseof 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 yourpatients down and even more, you realise yourcolleagues will have to do much more work to cover for yourabsence 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 tobe 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.
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!
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
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.
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:
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’
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.
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.
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!
If you are an overworked and stressed doctor who wonders if there is anything you could do to be happier, more relaxed and have enough time to do things for yourself, instead of allowing the monster that is Medicine, eat you up, then here are some suggestions for you.
You can’t go on like this, because if you do then something has to give and that something will be your personal health and well-being so that you are unable to function as a doctor efficiently and effectively any more. This will impact on your ability as a doctor and the way you feel about your patients and your medical work and eventually can lead to burn out and having to leave the profession on health grounds.
Not only your medical work, but your life in general already can be affected when you are on the go all the time. This results in you finding it difficult to make decisions or decide what is best for your life now. Your relationships suffer and your self-care is decreased and you will feel frustrated and ineffectual. You may long to take some ‘time out’ but don’t know how or what to do!
What can you do to change your situation?
Leave the Medical profession completely, which might solve the problem yet feel anxious about what to do instead
Consider retirement yet wonder if you will be bored without the routine of work
Continue as a doctor and try to improve your work-life balance but don’t know how to
Free up more time for you – but don’t believe it is possible
Carry on as you are until you cannot cope any more and become completely burnt out
What could happen if you don’t care for yourself more?
Become more stressed and unhappy;
Get fully burnt out;
Be unable to enjoy Medicine any more;
Become confused about what to do next…….
You long for some space and time to:
decide what to do for you
discover for yourself that it is possible to be a doctor and live your life in whatever way you want…..
Life doesn’t have to be like that for you….
You can be:
find answers to your dilemmas
decide on steps to move forward…..
But HOW can you achieve this? You must:
nurture yourself because when you look after yourself you can better look after your patients
relax, reflect so that you can make decisions calmly and in an informed way
make new connections with parts of yourself which have been neglected for a while so that you become a whole person again, by exercising, stretching, being creative
connect with nature so that you find something beyond your day to day work
find a new way forward, which you hadn’t discovered before so that you are more confident about changes you decide to make
There is also a once only opportunity to discover new ways to connect and change in beautiful West Cornwall, UK, so you can be refreshed, relaxed and make decisions about what to do next.
You will experience being able to Connect and Change with:
Your body which will become energised, exercised and stretched with walking, yoga, relaxation….
Your mind, to be able to think more clearly as you have time to consider what to do next in your life as you spend time in nature, by the sea, learn about and experience mindfulness… and have the chance to use me and others as a sounding board to discover your own solutions.
Your emotions which will become calmer as you put things into proportion while watching the ocean in an area of outstanding natural beauty and have the opportunity for personal reflection and discussion with other medics and experience coaching as a sounding board for your thoughts and ideas.
Your creativity whichwill be awakened as you have permission to have fun and discover new ways to express yourself through art and music, and discover something new about yourself.
Your enjoyment which will be increased….as you enjoy bird watching, swimming, ….conversations….laughing….staying in a beautiful place just minutes from the sea, so you can relax and refresh your mind, body and spirit; and experience a day foraging (with an expert) for wild food then cooking and feasting on it!
When you connect with new experiences you will be able to make the changes you want and discover which direction to take next, within or out of the Medical profession, in order to live the life you truly want.
To take some time out just for you and discover what to do, for yourself, when you connect with parts of yourself you may have neglected…. find out more here:
Would you like to find out how to relax more often and as a result be a more effective doctor?
Some days the work seems overwhelming. As soon as you finish with one thing there is another patient to see, another phone call to answer and another crisis to deal with. There seems to be no time for anything, no time to stop for a meal, almost no time to breathe. Even though you are convinced there is no time to do anything else there are some things you can do:
Become more aware of your breathing. Pause and breathe. However rushed you are, however stressed you feel, however much pressure others are putting on you, take a few seconds and pause and breathe consciously, slowly in and out, count to 5 slowly as you breathe in and as you breathe out to focus on your breathing. How long will that take? ten or twenty seconds at most. And the benefit? You will feel calmer and more able to carry on.
Notice your environment At the same time as connecting with your breathing or at other times just take a few seconds to look up and out of a window and become aware there is a world outside of the hospital. Notice the sky and be conscious of a world beyond where you are. If you are in a room with no windows then look at some flowers or as a last resort just close your eyes for a moment and think about a place you love to be in the countryside or beside the sea. Just a few moments then open your eyes and carry on with renewed energy.
Nourish yourself When you are busy and rushing about it is too easy to skip meals or grab a sugary snack and eat it while you answer emails or search for a patient’s notes. If you take time to get something more healthy to fill the gap, or take it with you each day and take some time away from the ward, away from the patients while you eat and enjoy it, you will return with renewed energy and be able to cope much more effectively with whatever the rest of the day brings.
Follow these three tips every day and monitor how you feel you will notice a steady improvement in your concentration, your energy and your well-being and as a result you will be a more effective doctor too.