According to ABC News, job burnout affects nearly 60% of doctors, and leads to poor bedside manner, lower-quality care, less patient satisfaction, and more medical errors and lawsuits. Burned-out doctors also overreact to on-the-job stress, are emotionally exhausted, feel their work isn’t meaningful, are less healthy, and have a variety of personal problems, including a higher risk of divorce.
So, what can prevent doctor burnout? Continuing medical education classes! Researchers at the University of Rochester in New York designed a program that teaches doctors things like mindfulness, literally, how to be “in the moment” - as well as narrative medicine, where patients aren’t viewed as just a disease or a problem to be solved, but as a living, breathing person, with emotions, a history, and a future they’d like to live to see. Studies show it helps doctors connect better with patients – which makes patients feel the doctor is more invested in their health and wellbeing. When doctors feel they’re making a difference in people’s lives, they’re less likely to suffer from job burnout. Still – you don’t have to take a class to learn mindfulness. Whether you’re a doctor, a landscaper, or a cashier, here’s how to use mindfulness to boost your mood and avoid job burnout:
- Savor something. Sonja Lyubomirsky wrote The How of Happiness, and she suggests picking an activity - like drinking a cup of coffee - and doing that and nothing else. Focusing completely on something simple improves mood and lowers the level of stress hormones in your blood.
- You can also learn mindfulness by comparing downward. In other words, don’t look at your neighbor’s Mercedes and feel bad about your old clunker. Instead, think how things could be worse. Just don’t take it too far, like enjoying someone else’s misfortune. Just consider what’s different: Is it sunnier today than yesterday? Are you in better shape than you were a year ago?
- Finally: Share positive feelings. Tell your kids how great it is to spend time with them. Tell your spouse about the compliment from your boss. Sharing happy times is one of the most powerful and effective ways to prolong and magnify joy. It helps sustain emotions that would otherwise fade.