Battling Burnout: Turn Your Work Off When You Get Home

By Christi Lehner-Collins

70%Percentage of physicians who claim to have "emotional burnout."(College of Physician Executives)

I use to have a difficult time turning my work off when I was home. I checked my e-mail constantly (even when I got up to use the bathroom at night). I thought about my clients while I was on my morning jog. I read business materials during dinner and typed articles during Red Sox games.

I love my work, but it was clearly starting to get in the way of my personal life. For my own sanity—and the good of my family—I knew I had to learn how to let go of my work once I came home.

If you're a physician looking for ways to turn your medical practice off when you get home, here are some suggestions that have worked wonders for me:

• Create a transition routine to help you shed your work persona. As soon as you get home, change into comfortable clothes and go outside for a walk around the block. Or, sit down with a cup of tea. Or, set aside the first 10 minutes to truly enjoy and connect with your spouse, kids or pet. Whatever you choose, use this transition ritual to shed the pressures of work as soon as you walk in the door.

• Don't turn the computer on at home. The lure of e-mails and online research wastes precious home time. Getting online to check “just one e-mail” always turns into a much longer Internet session.

• Unless you're on call, turn your cell phone and pager off. This allows you to fully disconnect from your office and be truly present at home.

• Make a list of the things that give you pleasure (eg, reading, working in the yard, playing golf, watching a fun TV show, etc) and select one thing to do each night. If you don't plan something fun or relaxing, you will be tempted by work-related tasks.

Most importantly, give yourself permission not to work at home. If you feel like you're slacking off if you're not working constantly, remember that the most productive people set aside time to unwind and recharge.

Christi Lehner-Collins is a certified holistic health counselor based in Boston, MA. She specializes in helping busy professionals all over the nation practice stress-free healthy eating and guilt-free self-care. She welcomes comments at christi@bostonhealth coach.com. For more information and free resources, visit Boston Health Coach.