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We know that things are tough out there, but letting yourself get dejected does a disservice to you and your patients. Here are our tips for unwinding and re-energizing.
Worn out, run down, weary:
These are phrases many docs use to describe their feelings about modern practice. We know that things are tough out there and systematic problems and daily hassles abound, but letting yourself get dejected does a disservice to you and your patients. Take the time to take care of yourself. Not only will you feel better, but your patients, your staff, and your family will thank you. Here are our tips for unwinding and re-energizing:
1. Unplug. When was the last time you really, truly unplugged - more than just setting your cell phone to vibrate? Try turning off the electronics tethering you to work and other stressors: your cell phone, your pager (when you’re not on call, of course), and the computer. Disengage entirely, if just for an hour or two each week. Read a book. Take a walk. Or just sit and enjoy the silence. Don’t worry, in time the withdrawal symptoms will ease and you will feel your shoulders loosen.
2. Take a real vacation. How long has it been since you took a trip that was all vacation - that wasn’t for a wedding, to visit family for the holidays, or tacking on a day or two at the end of a conference? If relaxation is what you need, then spending even a few days visiting a new place or beloved getaway and allowing yourself to see the sights with no pressure, sit on a porch in a rocking chair, or lounge in a beach chair with a good book can be just the ticket.
Rejuvenate 3. Cultivate a hobby. It may feel like all you have time for is work, work, work, but surely you can finagle a free afternoon here and there. Take advantage of your free time by indulging in a hobby, something you are good at that you enjoy. Get back into running; revisit that model airplane kit; or return to your love of photography, cooking, or knitting. Focusing your energy on a pastime outside of work will help you find balance and recharge.
4. Learn something new. Feel stuck in a rut? The same old, same old can drag down your energy levels and your enthusiasm for the job. Fight ennui and stimulate your brain by learning something new. Go to a workshop on new treatments for a condition that interests you, or take a course on another specialty or field that you find fascinating. Or if you are in need of more work-life balance, look outside the discipline at classes in everything from art history to martial arts to urban farming.
Get Re-inspired 5. Talk to a mentor and become a mentor. If you’ve lost some of the inspiration that once motivated you, call on a mentor for guidance. Look to a colleague or peer whom you respect - someone who’s been through the ups and downs of practice. Similarly, consider becoming a mentor to a younger colleague. There’s little more inspiring than being an inspiration.
6. Focus on the good stuff. It’s easy to get dragged down by the daily grind of paperwork, coding snafus, and staffing issues. But it’s important to regularly remind yourself why you do what you do. At least once a month, take time to sit down and read thank-you notes from patients, revisit recent positive outcomes your patients have experienced, or read survivor stories online about people overcoming disease. There are a lot of folks out there who feel and live better because of the work you and other providers do - focus on the healing, not the headaches.
Abigail Beckel is managing editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sara Michael is senior editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at email@example.com. This article originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of Physicians Practice.