Physician burnout has long been documented as a pervasive issue in healthcare. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted in September of 2020, 58% of physicians reported feelings of burnout. Unfortunately, there are systemic issues within healthcare that propagate the continuation of burnout culture. But, “a broken system is not an excuse to not care for ourselves. It is a call to action.” (Pipas, 2020). As physicians, you have the power to change the culture of healthcare by caring for yourself and filling your own tank. When you do so, you will be better equipped to care for others.
Importance of Physician Mental and Physical Health
In the age of Covid-19, self-care may seem unimportant, but there may be dire consequences if mental and physical health is not addressed. The sad fact is that everyday, 1 physician commits suicide. We want to prevent this at all costs. For physicians in crisis, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1(800) 273-TALK. For other physicians, addressing self-care and mental wellbeing before a crisis is a viable option.
Simple Self-Care Strategies:
- Eating healthy
- Getting enough sleep
Medicine often has a warrior culture in which physicians consider it a badge of honor to deprive themselves of physical necessities. Unfortunately, not getting proper nutrition and sleep will quickly wear you down and make you less able to care for your patients.
Ask yourself the same questions you would ask your patients: Do you have a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables? Do you get at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days? Do you sleep the recommended amount? If you answered no to any of these questions, consider small changes that you can make in your life to improve your habits. Starting small helps shape your behaviors into healthier ones and reduces the chances of becoming overwhelmed and giving up on goals.