The goal of course is to maintain or regain your resilience, so you can be fulfilled, effective, and happy. So, as promised, here are 12 antidotes, recommendations, opportunities, behavioral skills, things you can actually do, to pump yourself full with what you need, to vaccinate yourself against burnout, to preserve your bounce.
#1 Self-care: This is a commitment to being your own first patient, to be kind and fair to yourself, and realistic about your personality and your needs. The most essential link between your patients, and the health benefits they need, is YOU. So it is your duty to keep yourself in top working order, as a person, as a human being. Only by doing this, can the doctor in you do the job you’ve taken on. YOU are your most important instrument.
#2 Assertiveness: This is the consistent use words and actions to communicate both clearly & firmly, and constructively & respectfully. It is the eschewing of passive behavior (failing to communicate, out of desire to please), and aggressive behavior (communicating out of desire to dominate and humiliate.)
#3 Diversification: Everyone needs at least two non-work leisure interests.
#4 Vacation: Medscape (2015) found that the percentage who took off at least 2 weeks a year for vacation was 70% among non-burned-out MDs, vs 59% of burned-out MDs.
#5 Healthy value choices: Everyone should be able to name their chosen values, guiding principles in life. This allows them to make healthy choices. To resist burnout, it is critical that one’s values include gratitude & appreciation of the good in every day.
#6 Mindful emotional regulation, which is using your words in an inner dialogue; insight/self-awareness; and #7 mature defense mechanisms, such as affiliation, altruism, humor/irony, self-assertion, self-observation, sublimation, and suppression.
#8 Diet & exercise: Exercise is good for doctors as well as their patients. It improves sleep, mood, appetite, and weight. Alcohol should be used responsibly and moderately only.
#9 Emotional support at home: Marriage should be “an island of peace,” and include sexual fulfillment. I hope you are lucky enough to have a wonderful mate. But, don’t ever forget that all relationships need constant feeding and watering to thrive! Happiness does not happen by accident. Marital happiness requires skills that luckily can be taught and learned.
#10 Realism about the specific nature of your chosen specialty.
#11 Variety in your work routine.
#12 Mutual support: share feelings with colleagues.
Armed with this information and these recommendations, you can protect your bounce, and your legacy to the future of medicine will be one of consistent good mood, good attitude, and good work.
“My passion is ensuring that every adult is mentally ready to succeed in all transitions that comprise the adult years. The meaning in my life comes from helping my patients see themselves, their situation, their future, and the entire world with new eyes and a newly courageous attitude.