Doctors are some of the most influential people in society as they save lives, care for the sick and help them stay healthy. But due to these critical responsibilities, doctors are also at high risk of experiencing mental burnout; They must think about themselves regularly and take care of their mental health. Let’s look at the importance of self-care in the medical profession and how to handle mental health while a doctor.
The importance of self-care for doctors
It’s no secret that doctors face a lot of stress in their profession. Not only do they have to deal with their job’s emotional and physical demands, but they also have to deal with the pressure of making life-or-death decisions daily. It’s no wonder many doctors suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. A recent study has shown that doctors are more likely to die by suicide than the general population.
Hence, doctors must prioritise their mental health and care for their well-being to provide quality patient care.
The doctor-patient relationship
The doctor-patient relationship is one of the most critical aspects of healthcare. Trust and communication help build this foundation, which can profoundly impact a patient’s health and well-being.
A solid doctor-patient relationship can lead to better health outcomes. Those who feel supported and respected by their physicians are more likely to follow treatment recommendations and actively promote their well-being. Those who feel unheard or disrespected are more likely to experience poorer health outcomes. They may also be less likely to comply with treatment recommendations or follow up with their physician.
The doctor-patient relationship is the cornerstone of quality healthcare and can profoundly impact a patient’s health and well-being.
How to handle mental health as a doctor
Self-care is essential for maintaining good mental health, and there are several ways doctors can do this:
1. Get enough sleep
It may seem like an obvious one, but it’s essential to get enough rest. Doctors often have extended hours and chaotic schedules, which can lead to burnout, and getting enough sleep can help them combat fatigue and feel more rested and refreshed.
2. Eat healthily
Eating a balanced diet is essential for everyone, but it’s necessary for doctors. Eating unhealthy foods can lead to an unhealthy metabolism and low energy levels, whereas eating healthy will help us feel more alert and focused.
Exercise is a great way to boost our mood and relieve stress. Even if we do not have time to make it to the gym daily, there are plenty of other ways to stay active, such as going for a walk, doing yoga, or meditating at home.
4. Connect with colleagues
Talking to other doctors about their experiences can be an excellent way to de-stress and feel more connected to their profession. Several doctor-specific support groups are available where they can easily find support.
5. Make time for hobbies
Hobbies can take our minds off work and provide much-needed relaxation. Make time for it, whether painting, hiking, playing an instrument, or anything else.
6. Seek professional help
Doctors feeling overwhelmed or struggling to cope should not hesitate to seek professional help. There are many resources available, and getting help can make a difference.
Doctor burnout and its effect on patient care
What is doctor burnout?
Burnout is a state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. It can lead to feelings of cynicism, detachment and ineffectiveness. It can also lead to physical health problems such as headaches and gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems.
Several factors contribute to doctor burnout. The job demands can be overwhelming, especially the feeling responsible for so many human lives; the hours can be long and unpredictable.
How does doctor burnout affect patient care?
When a doctor reaches burnout, it affects the quality of patient care. When doctors feel mentally exhausted, they are more likely to make errors and their ability to empathise with patients. Burnout can also lead to absenteeism and turnover, disrupting healthcare delivery. It can also lead to lower satisfaction with the career.
How to prevent doctor burnout?
There are various steps to prevent and treat doctor burnout. Organisational change, better work-life balance, practising self-care and increased support from colleagues and institutions are all significant. But ultimately, it is up to each doctor to take care of their mental well-being. If doctors feel burnt out, they should not hesitate to seek help; their patients need them to be healthy and happy.
Being a doctor is a challenging but rewarding job.
It is no secret that the medical profession can be highly stressful. Long hours, demanding patients and the constant pressure to save lives can take their toll on even the most experienced doctor. However, it is also one of the most rewarding jobs. There is no more extraordinary good deed than saving a life; doctors regularly get to do that. But again, at the same time, they must make self-care a priority and take care of their mental health.
If work pressure overwhelms our mental health and well-being, we must seek professional help. Seeking professional service in the medical profession is still taboo in many places. Still, it is necessary to remember that many resources are available to help us healthily cope with our mental illness.