I remember there was a time I would lay awake in bed at night dreading going to work and wondering how in the world I would make it to retirement age as an emergency physician.
I was an attending physician, and I thought life was supposed to get easier by now. But it somehow came to feel like a grind working in the ER.
And then I would come home to the second shift of responsibilities at home and with my kids. I was usually the first one up in the morning and the last one to sleep at night trying to be a superwoman. What I really wanted was to feel confident and balanced in life, but instead I was exhausted, overwhelmed and burned out.
I tried many things to try to get myself out of burnout
- I began working out more regularly
- I was surrounding myself with positive people
- I cut down my hours at work
- I began doing some administrative work for my department
- I started teaching and precepting residents thinking that would reconnect me with the joy of medicine
- I started a side hustle
While those things helped for a short period of time, feelings of exhaustion and overwhelm about work would creep back in. I went on to experience multiple rounds of professional burnout.
3 Practical Steps to Help
After a while, I found three things that helped me finally address those burnout feelings for good. I discovered a new belief that shifted my entire perspective on my career and got me out of burnout.
I discovered it was crucial that I learn to acknowledge my true feelings about the situation. I had to take out the guilt, shame and judgement. I had to feel my feelings for what they really were. I had to take time to tune in to what I was really feeling.
That can be hard when we are rushing from patient to patient or from carpool to dinner. I had to learn to take advantage of the time I was commuting to and from work, time in the shower, when I was making dinner, etc.
Once I was able to put names to my emotions (exhausted, frustrated, etc.) I realized I needed to take a look at the thoughts behind those feelings.
Did you know that it is not actually our circumstances that create our feelings? We first have a thought about the circumstance and then that leads to our feelings. Makes sense, right?!
I personally found it helpful to journal about my thoughts so I could really see how they influenced my experiences and perspective.
Once I was able to “see” things more clearly, I knew it was time to step into my power. I didn’t have to hold onto these thoughts and feelings I didn’t particularly like. They weren’t serving me.
I realized that I get to choose my thoughts and in turn how I feel about my circumstances. What a realization!
This step takes a bit of practice because our subconscious has gotten used to thinking certain things. Learn to recognize those when they come up and replace them with the thoughts you want to have about the situation. You are in the driver’s seat, so take the wheel!
Wash, Rinse, Repeat
This is a process I have to repeat often, especially when I am feeling overwhelmed. Please remember that change is not often a one-time deal. We may have those negative feelings creep back in, but just repeat steps 1-3 and take your power back.
Listen, my friend, if you are struggling right now (like I was), the most important thing that I want you to know is that you are not alone. You can get through this and feel confident and balanced in your life.
If you’d like to hear more about these 3 steps, join our free training where I cover each step in more detail to help you kick overwhelm and exhaustion to the curb. Click here to enroll in our free training.
Archana Shrestha, MD is a physician, life coach, speaker and entrepreneur in Chicago. She is the Cofounder and Chief Wellness Officer at Women in White Coats and co-author of “The Chronicles of Women in White Coats” book series. Learn more about her by going to MightyMomMD.com. She can be followed on Instagram @MightyMomMD
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