One of the best ways to fight burnout is to build resilience. The American Psychological Association has put forth these tips to do just that.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” And if ever there was a profession facing “difficulties” it is physicians. The “recover quickly” part is no slim accomplishment either.
Wayne Sotile, PhD, “one the world’s most seasoned clinicians specializing in life coaching for physicians,” says that today’s healthcare system faces unrelenting change and the mismanagement of that change along with the fatigue it brings is causing an epidemic of costly burnout for health professionals. Sounds pretty bad.
But the medical profession must do much more than just endure. It must flourish. Doctors have a great trust. When it comes to the dealing with the stress of today’s medical profession—adapting, coping, adjusting, and managing—some doctors are better at it than others.
My physician-dad was a fine model for resilience. He knew how to compartmentalize things. Maintaining control, being positive, and seeking support were skill sets I observed in him. In fact, it wasn’t until he retired from medicine that I felt he lost his coping skills.
According to an American Psychological Association report, The Road to Resilience, “being resilient does not mean that a person doesn't experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common in people who have suffered major adversity in their lives (e.g., doctors). In fact, the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress. Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.”
The APA offers these 10 ways to build resilience:
1. Make connections. “Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience.”
2. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. “Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better.”
3. Accept that change is a part of living. “Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.”
4. Move toward your goals. “Do something regularly—even if it seems like a small accomplishment—that enables you to move toward your goals.”
5. Take decisive actions. “Rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away, act on adverse situations as much as you can.”
6. Look for opportunities for self-discovery. “People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss.”
7. Nurture a positive view of yourself. “Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.”
8. Keep things in perspective. “Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective.”
9. Maintain a hopeful outlook. “Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.”
10. Take care of yourself. “Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.”