One of the main causes of burnout is the imbalance between the energy that we expend on a daily basis, and the Energy that it takes to recharge our batteries. Most times (especially as physician/providers) we have a tendency to go, go, go, and ignore the low battery indicators that show up along the way. Just in case you don't know what those are (but you DO know), they may include overwhelm, fatigue, irritability, headaches, anxiety, sleeplessness, and even depression. Behavior indicators may be isolation, self-medication through alcohol or drugs or even sex.
But when you think about it, when the gas light comes on in your car, do you continue to ride it until you completely run out of gas and are stranded on the side of the road? Or do you take the time to stop by a gas station, and fill your tank? Similarly, when the low battery indicator or the check engine light comes on in your car, don't you almost immediately prioritize getting your car checked out? Of course you do! So why is it that we treat our cars better than we treat ourselves? What is it that has us give more consideration to a piece of moving metal than to our own well being?
While the answer to this question is likely multifactorial, one of the main dilemmas that we physicians don't take care of our needs, and some of us don’t even know what our self-care needs are. We have been trained for so long to ignore ourselves, that we never developed a sense of what we need to recharge. Knowing that there's an imbalance is the first step, and close behind that is knowing what you need to do to correct that imbalance. Of course in the complexities of our careers what we need to begin to correct the imbalance may be multifactorial as well, but if we start with ourselves we can begin to glean clarity on the steps to next take to get ourselves supported in the prevention and or the recovery of burnout.
You maybe asking, "but how do I begin to discover what it is that helps me recharge?"
Your three questions you can ask yourself that will give you an idea of what types of things you can begin to implement in your life on a daily basis to help you recharge.
- At the end of a long day at work, I prefer to a) go out with friends and unwind at happy hour or with a group of people, or B) go home to a quiet house, and have a bath/read a book and unwind quietly
- Being amongst crowds and social situations: A) invigorates me, or B) drains me
- When dealing with a problem or dilemma, I prefer to: A) talk it through with someone else or B) work it out in my mind alone first
If your answers were primarily (A) then you are likely more of the extrovert type. Extroverted personality types tend to draw their energy from the external environment, meaning you tend to be invigorated and energized by being amongst people. You like to talk everything through. Knowing that you're an extrovert personality type gives you access to discovering how you best to recharge. Some ways that extrovert might recharge are:
- going out to dinner with a group of friends,
- going to an after hours social or networking event,
- going and playing a sports after work with a team,
- working out of the busy gym or going to a popular exercise class.
The point is, you tend to better recharge your batteries in the company of others.
If your answers were primarily (B), then you are likely of the introverted personality type. Introverts sometimes get a bad rap, because the common historical view of introverts is that they don’t like being around other people. They often get judged as people who isolate themselves, are shy, or hermit like. This is not necessarily the case. Having an introverted personality type simply means that you process and draw energy from the internal world. While there are many introverts who love people and are outgoing, these introverted personalities will still need to recharge their batteries by being in a quiet place and often alone. Introverts tend to like peace and quiet. They tend to like to insulate themselves from loud noises when they are recharging, and will process problems in their mind first.
Some good ways for introverts to recharge the batteries may include:
- going on a quiet walk in the neighborhood,
- coming home to a quiet house and reading a book,
- listening to their favorite relaxing music,
- going to a yoga class, watching a movie or their favorite tv show,
- meditation, or
- a quiet dinner with a friend.
The point is, and introvert winds down and recharge their batteries in a more internal way. When I say internal, this doesn't always mean alone… It simply means they go "inside themselves" to recharge (even if they are with people).
While this is a very abbreviated view of personality types, and only the very tip of the iceberg as far as solutions for burnout are concerned, knowing what you need to recharge can be very valuable as you begin to create your daily self-care plan. Actions to take: Identify your personality type…are you more extroverted or introverted? Based on this, what are the actions you can begin to develop and implement today to create a regimen of battery recharging for your well being and peace of mind.
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If you would like to learn more information about how we create breakthroughs for physicians, or would like to know more about how to schedule a breakthrough sessions, visit www.thestressfreemd.com. You can sign up to get a complimentary copy of Dr. Clairborne’s E-Book: “30 Days to Happier Healing”.
Maiysha Clairborne MD