Building resilience and avoiding burnout in 2022

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Healthcare workers have done an outstanding job and worked tirelessly since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This tireless effort to help keep the community safe has not only impacted healthcare workers’ physical health and wellbeing but also their mental and emotional health.

As we enter another calendar year of the pandemic, how can healthcare workers continue to be resilient while also avoiding burnout during these unprecedented times? 

Dr Gail Gazelle MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Master Certified Coach for physicians, lists her top five tips for healthcare workers looking to build resilience and avoid burnout.

“The stresses of working in healthcare are many, and one thing all but absent in our training is how to cope with them,” says Dr Gazelle.

“To run the marathon of a medical career, it is critical to learn resilience strategies. They make the difference between burnout and a career of meaning and satisfaction.”

5 tips to build resilience and prevent burnout 

Tip #1: Give yourself credit

According to Dr Gazelle, healthcare workers can often be so focused on problems that they can overlook things that are going well, in patients and also in themselves.

“To build resilience, be sure to take stock of your strengths and accomplishments. Every evening, make a list of three things you did well that day,” she suggests.

Tip #2: Don’t run on empty

Dr Gazelle says that if you’re like most of your peers, you are all too good at taking care of others and not great at caring for yourself. You may consider your own needs frivolous or inconsequential.

She recommends that to build resilience, you need to maintain your physical, emotional, and psychological energy level.

Examples of things that may fill your tank include:

  • Spending time with loved ones.
  • Listening to your favourite music.
  • Doing something in nature.
  • Reading a non-medical book.

Tip #3: Build moments of calm into your day

According to Dr Gazelle, whether it’s sitting in quiet meditation, taking a short walk, or simply creating a timeout in your schedule, it’s key that you have some time each day when you can recharge yourself.

Even brief moments of calm can increase your ability to weather all the stresses you face, she says, adding that they may even lead to greater efficiency in your day.

Tip #4: Overcome the Imposter Syndrome

“In the hundreds of physicians I’ve coached, the incidence of the Imposter Syndrome is over 80%,” says Dr Gazelle. “Almost all physicians are walking around feeling like imposters.”

According to Dr Gazelle, the Imposter Syndrome is a very debilitating condition that erodes self-esteem, leads to excessive rumination, and contributes to the exhaustion of burnout.

She says that one way to overcome Imposter Syndrome is realising that it is simply a thought process, nothing more.

Tip #5: Practice self-compassion

“We in healthcare can be our own most harsh critics, telling ourselves that others are smarter, more adept at diagnosis and treatment, and have their lives more together than us,” says Dr Gazelle.

“To run the marathon of a medical career, we need to learn how to support ourselves, and how to bring the same compassion to ourselves that we bring to our patients.”