They say that doctors are the worst patients, and for some doctors, they truly are. Here’s why they should practice self-care!
In order for doctors to truly be able to care for their patients, they need to first make sure they’re taking good care of themselves.
As a doctor, it might be difficult to find that balance between caring for yourself and caring for others, whether you’re caring for terminally ill patients or delivering babies. But nonetheless, that balance is detrimental to your staying clinically competent in your field.
Why Do Doctors Neglect Themselves?
It’s pretty common among doctors to care so much for others that they have a bad habit of forgetting about themselves.
Some doctors have an unspoken assumption that they’re invulnerable to physical and mental health… They know they don’t but still go about treating patients as if they do.
For one, doctors are exposed to so many health risks that it’s clinically dangerous to have a mindset of invulnerable. That reason alone is why it’s vital for doctors to consider protection from potential health risks. This could save their life and career in the long run.
As silly as it may sound to others that are not in the medical field, doctors sometimes feel that caring for themselves is a sign of selfishness and weakness while overextending themselves is a virtue, so they focus on working more and sleeping less.
This mindset is what can ultimately lead to burnout among doctors.
Job Exhaustion: What Is Burnout?
Burnout is a condition resulting from stress in the workplace, and it’s becoming an epidemic among doctors today.
A study found that around 49% of doctors in the U.S. meet the characteristics of burnout, suffering from emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. Their work/life balance is also considerably lower than that of other workers.
This epidemic of burnout is causing many doctors to leave the profession completely, reduce hours down to part-time, and retire early.
From the long hours to being blamed for unfortunate deaths of patients… all of those aspects of their job can cause stress unimaginable for some.
Some doctors have even taken a darker turn, reporting that they’ve considered suicide according to that study. Each year, more than 300 doctors commit suicide.
It’s Okay To Seek Help
As mentioned earlier, doctors witness suffering and death all too often and are not getting the mental health support they need to cope with such traumatic experiences.
Now, knowing all of the trauma doctors experience, you would think that it would be nothing for them to be able to receive mental help, right? Yes. Well, it’s actually not that easy.
If a doctor seeks professional mental health help, they will have to explain to the Board of Medical Examiners why they need the help and details of their situation.
If you have an understanding of everything that doctors go through on a daily basis you would be able to see why some doctors feel like the only solution is to end it all. But suicide is not a solution for anyone regardless of the situation.
There are several different healthy ways to cope with the effects of physical and mental health among doctors… But it first starts with self-realization on the doctor’s behalf that taking care of themselves is key.
How Doctors Should Practice Self-Care
In theory, a doctor putting the needs of others above their own is very heroic and worthy of praise, but it’s actually not. When doctors sacrifice their own well-being, they’re actually compromising the quality of the care they provide.
Here are three simple ways doctors can practice self-care:
1. Ample Sleep And Rest
Although you’re in a profession of improving the quality of lives of others, if you’re any bit of human, you’re still going to require ample sleep and rest.
According to the CDC, there are over 100 million people that are deprived of sleep.
Exercise is a great way to keep your body active and reduce stress. Although you’re running a tight schedule, you still need to find some type of way to incorporate exercise into your schedule.
Even if it’s just a brisk walk in the parking lot of the facility you’re working at, a little exercise is better than no exercise.
Sometimes the stressors of work can be overwhelming (for anyone) and you just need a mental break from it all. A doctor could greatly benefit from meditation.
The key aspect of meditation is to find a quiet area where you won’t be disturbed and can clear your mind. Lots of people rely on meditation to de-stress.
Doctors should practice self-care not only to help themselves and improve their own health but to help their patients too by taking the right decisions.