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Reframing To Prevent Burnout

Sep 18, 2023

Burnout is a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. It decreases your sense of personal achievement. You feel less fit for your job professionally. Burnout is usually a result of chronic stress at work. In the United States, more than 60% of physicians reported the experience of burnout.

Sometimes you may not even recognize that you are experiencing burnout. You might be experiencing burnout if you are dreading to work, having trouble to concentrate, having insomnia, having difficulty to focus, or having unexplained physical ailments. As a result of burnout, you may experience extreme stress, sadness, become easily irritable, or even have physical manifestation such as chronic fatigue or increased risk of infection.

Although physician burnout is likely related to the organization they work for, the experience itself is personal. It affects the well-being of individual physicians. It affects the quality of patient care and productivity.

While organizational factors have a major impact on physician burnout, individual factors also play a role. Some people have their default thinking usually as the worst case scenario. Let us explore what can be done in the personal level to reduce or avoid burnout.

The first step is to recognize what burnout is and if you have signs or symptoms to suggest you are experiencing burnout. To examine your life and what you are thinking, sometimes it is helpful to become an observer of yourself. Mindfulness is a practice to increase awareness of what you are feeling physically and emotionally in the present, without adding judgment or interpretation to your experience.

If you are experiencing burnout, do not fight it. Do not argue with it. Simply acknowledge this is your reality at this moment. Ask yourself what the main thought is on your mind that makes you feel drained or exhausted. For example, the thought the patient documentation and inbox tasks are killing you. If that is your main thought, how do you feel? Angry, frustrated or in distress? Or some other negative emotions?

That main sentence in your mind is usually your default thinking. You have that in your mind without actually thinking hard about it. Oftentimes you believe that is your reality and that is it.  It feels so real. It feels solid.

But is it?

Be curious. Be open-minded. That main sentence (The patient documentation and inbox tasks are killing you) – is it absolutely true? Is there another way to think about your situation? Be open to possibilities.

If you can see there are other perspectives to look at your situation, you can see that there is a choice to reframe what you think.

Instead of thinking that the patient documentation and inbox tasks are killing you, what is an alternative thought? For example, you can think instead that patient charting and the inbox tasks are manageable. Or you can choose to think that you got this, you can handle it. How do you feel if you are thinking the alternative thought? Hopeful? More a peace?

It is important to know that it is a choice to pick your perspective. It is your choice. You are more powerful than your thoughts once you realize you can choose what you are thinking and how you are thinking.

Reframing is simply recognizing what your default perspective is and choosing another perspective that is more helpful and constructive. The alternative is usually a more positive way to think of the situation. The alternative thought will generate a more positive emotion. When you are operating more in positive emotions, you are less likely to experience burnout.

Are you ready to stop feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Are you ready to have more time to do what you want?


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