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Stop Sucking It Up

burnout choice mindset positive emotions self-care Oct 22, 2022
A woman sitting by the water in a yoga pose

One of the difficulties with burnout, whether related to medicine, teaching, parenting or any other caring-profession, is that there is often a lack of discrete start and stop points. For the patient who comes in with appendicitis, they experience a start to their symptoms, a crescendo that brings them to medical attention, a discrete treatment (surgery), a post-operative phase, and a resolution. But for the surgeon? There is a never-ending flow of appendixes, gall-bladders and colonic resections. For the PCP there are always more patients with diabetes, and well-visits. 

It’s very easy therefore to see your days as an endless flow of unsolved problems. Although you may help one person with their issue, there are always more behind them. And thus in the big picture, it can easily feel that you will never be done, you will never catch up, that there is no point at which you can celebrate resolution.

It’s not to say that this is an issue for everyone. But for people highly-trained to “suck it up,” and “keep plugging away,” it’s easy for this to feel exhausting and relentless because most of us haven’t learned the skills to pause and celebrate. And it comes up a lot for my Physician clients, just as it did for me.

“Why can’t I feel good?” I’d say. I was so stuck in my own blinders, that I did not pause, I did not celebrate. But now I know better.

It’s not just about birthdays and holidays. It’s about pausing with intention to notice your own accomplishments, to celebrate yourself and let yourself really feel the feedback you receive. It’s about creating moments in your day where you have intentional practices that refresh you, even if it’s just stretching or taking deep breaths. Or creating some separation ritual from work at the end of the day.

We have to shake it up a little. Pair something really enjoyable with leaving work, such as a gripping audiobook or podcast that you only listen to on the way home so you’ll be more excited to leave work on a high note, rather than dragging from your day. Or add in restorative habits that we do on the regular, such as a weekly or monthly date with a friend. Or a massage. And when that thing is over, you schedule your next time.

As Physicians, we are often terrible at creating rewards that are healthy and serve only ourselves. We may feel it’s selfish to give ourselves pleasure, or rest or solitude. And we know that we can hustle and grind through without it. But do you want to keep those thoughts? Do you want to believe that you are not worth rewarding and celebrating? And if you find yourself struggling with a nagging inner-voice, telling you that you can’t do these things, you can’t have that, ask it “says who?”

You have a choice here. What will you decide?

Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

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