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Burnout in women physicians is just as common as it is for everyone else. There was a time when I felt completely burned out. Even though I was in a career I had worked so hard for, I fantasized about walking out of the hospital and never coming back. As an allergist, I was in the “cush” field of medicine. I wasn’t supposed to be burned out with a primarily outpatient job! These feelings were supposed to be reserved for those ready to retire.
The turning point
One clinic day, ALL of my double booked patients showed up. I was already stressed about running behind and was having difficulty focusing because of the thoughts running rampant in my mind. Every one of them was competing with my patients for my attention. I was being pulled in a million different directions both mentally and emotionally, and I was miserable. Living with constant feelings of frustration, being overwhelmed with anxiety and loneliness, I had created an entire narrative in my mind.
The battlefield in my mind
Everything looked as it should in this role of “doctor.” The day-to-day reality, however, wasn’t living up to my expectations. So many thoughts were running through my mind and constantly challenging me.
“Are you taking enough time with this patient? Don’t be rushed.”
“Be efficient. Don’t make the other patients wait too long.”
“How is Grant doing at his new school? You should be home with him.”
“You are not being a good mom, wife or doctor.”
The hard truth
For years, I blamed my burnout on the job, the medical system and the demands. Most sources I read talked about it being the result of lack of work-life balance, extremes of activity and lack of control. While these things definitely played a role they were really a symptom of it. They were not the direct cause.
What was the difference?
When I think back to that time in my life, I had colleagues that worked just as much than I did. Some worked even more hours. They had less time with their families and similar work days. Yet, they were still energized and passionate about their jobs. The difference was in how each of us was thinking about our circumstances.
During this time, all of the thoughts I was having were fueled with fear, frustration and inadequacy. These feelings are what lead to my burnout. It was a result of my own thoughts about my circumstances. If you are feeling burned out, your thoughts are contributing to it too.
The good news
My thoughts were entirely within my own control and so are yours! When you feel like burnout is not within your control, you become a victim. You feel like your circumstances and your job need to change in order for you to be happy. In contrast, if you understand that your thoughts are triggering your feelings, you can take your power back.
It’s a process
Tune in to the thoughts that are causing you frustration and overwhelm. Here’s how:
- Write out all of your thoughts the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and burned out. Get it all out on paper. Resist the temptation to self edit. Let it all come out… good, bad and really bad.
- Go back and read what you’ve written. This will help you become an observer of your thoughts, so that you can eventually evaluate which thoughts are useful to you and which are not.
- Separate the facts from your thoughts. A fact is anything that could be proven in a court of law, or something that everyone would agree on. Everything else is a thought.
This exercise will help you understand the reasons for your feelings. If are experiencing burnout as a woman physician and you’d like to dive deeper, I can help you. Click here to schedule a Discovery Coaching Call .
I’m Kricia Palmer, and I help women physicians let go of clutter and create beautiful, clutter-resistant homes so they can feel more peace, get more rest and be more focused.
Create a home you love that fits YOUR style, so you feel relaxed, inspired, and enjoy every space in your home.