6 Self Care Ideas for Busy Doctors to Combat Physician Burnout


Physician burnout

Physician burnout is a real and growing problem. Rates are increasing, and figures now estimate that 42% of U.S. physicians feel emotionally and physically drained. It’s easy to fall into an exhausted state between long hours, intense stress, and overwhelming patient loads.

Burnout can affect the quality of patient care and lead to medical errors. It may also decrease work satisfaction to the degree that doctors leave the profession altogether.

To prevent burnout and its negative consequences, physicians need to find ways to take care of themselves both physically and emotionally. Although it can be challenging to make time for self-care, it’s essential for well-being.

Here are 6 self-care ideas for busy doctors:

Start small

It’s difficult to make time for self-care when you’re already feeling overwhelmed and stressed about everything you need to get done in a day. So, if you’re struggling to find time, start small.

Self-care doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but it’s necessary to incorporate it into your daily routine. Even a 10-minute break to do something you enjoy can make a big difference. For example, a 2020 study found that spending 10 minutes in nature could boost your mood and reduce blood pressure.

Try scattering these breaks throughout your workday. If you can, step outside for a few minutes of fresh air during your morning coffee break. If you have a lunch break, use it as an opportunity to take a short walk around the block or listen to music. Turn off your phone and distractions and rest your eyes and mind.

Schedule specific times

One way to prioritize self-care is to schedule it into your week. Dedicate specific days and times that you’ll take care of yourself and treat them like any other high-priority appointment. Doing this helps you commit to your self-care routine even when you’re feeling particularly busy or stressed.

Begin by choosing a couple of days a month that you’ll dedicate to self-care. On these days, make time for joyful activities that nurture your mind and body. Why not treat yourself to a massage, go for a walk surrounded by nature, take a yoga class, or read a book.

It doesn’t matter what you choose or when you do it. The idea is to create a designated time slot for personal care.

Make time for socializing

It can be tempting to isolate yourself and withdraw from friends and family when you’re feeling burned out. Although it’s invaluable to have some time alone, too much isolation can worsen the situation.

So, try to connect with others, even when you’re feeling low on energy. Human interaction outside of your workplace and social support are important for maintaining good mental health. Try to schedule regular catch-ups with friends or join a social group or hobby class.

If you’re struggling to make time for socializing, there are plenty of ways to stay connected online. Social media and video calls allow you to chat with friends and family without leaving the house.

Set boundaries

It’s critical to have a healthy work-life balance, which means knowing your boundaries and when to say no.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your workload, it may be time to reassess your commitments. Take a good look at your schedule and see where you can cut back. Is there anything you can delegate to someone else?

Remember, it’s okay to say no. You can’t do everything and trying to do so only leads to burnout.

Exercise regularly

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress, boost your mood, and improve overall health. It can also help you sleep better, which is paramount for managing stress levels.

If you’re struggling to find time to exercise, start small and build up gradually. Just a few minutes of exercise can make a difference providing you’re committed. However, aim for at least 30 minutes a day if you can.

Try to find an activity that you enjoy so that it doesn’t feel like a chore. For example, if running isn’t your thing, try a brisk walk or cycle ride. You can also look for exercise classes or boot-camp-style workouts at local gyms.

Work locum tenens

Juggling a permanent role with other commitments can be tough, and you need time for yourself. Locum tenens work is a great way to fit work around your life, rather than the other way around.

As a locum, you can choose when and where you work, allowing you to take time off and plan work around other commitments.

What’s more, working in varied roles in different settings can help keep you motivated and engaged. It’s also a great way to network and learn new skills.