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Five Fun Ways to Fight Burnout

June 16, 2018

Battling for Wellness

Burnout is a huge problem among physicians, especially those of us in the ED.  I have felt it and still battle the feeling from time to time.  I don’t in any way want to offer a bandaid for a gaping wound.  Burnout defies simple answers.  This post isn’t meant to be major surgery.  It’s a bandaid…tissue adhesive at best.  But I do have five fun things you can do to take your mind off work and give you a respite.

Hobby = Happy

We spend a lot of time taking care of patients.  It is important to occasionally do something just because you enjoy it.  Here are some ideas.

  • Fly a remote control plane – My sons and I bought some ready-to-fly, idiot proof planes from a local hobby store and had a blast.  We were taking off and landing on the driveway.  It was amazing.
  • Shoot a real flintlock – My dad has gotten into muzzle-loading muskets and even flintlocks in his retirement.  They are really fascinating.  This can be a really fun thing to do as a family if a friend or neighbor can show you how to use one.
  • Read a biography – I think I have it bad until I read a biography.  I recently read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.  Shattering but worth the journey – so redemptive.  And it made me realize I had nothing to complain about.

Get Outside

John Muir said, “break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

  • Go backpacking – There is something so refreshing about getting into the woods.  It helps us feel a wonderful, appropriate smallness.  Yet somehow like we are part of something very special.  I love backpacking with my wife and kids.
  • Make a fire with no matches – Disclaimer: I have not had success with this yet.  But my son has a bar of magnesium and striker, and I am going to make this work or have a lot of fun trying.  I must say I have fire-envy of Bear Grylls.

Invest in Relationships

  • Start small – Surprise her or him with breakfast in bed.  For me, this is impossible because she is a light sleeper, and I am hopelessly noisy.  But that doesn’t stop me from periodically trying.
  • If your relationships are struggling, it is OK to get help.  For a long time I fought this, but when my hero said he needed marriage counseling, this broke down a barrier for me.  Counseling has helped a lot.

Fast From Technology

Sometimes we don’t realize how connected we are to our devices until they’re gone.

  • This can be total or partial.  Maybe fast from Twitter for a week, or Facebook, or Instagram.
  • More and more evidence suggests SoMe isn’t making us happier; rather, the opposite is occurring.

Try Something New (or old that’s new to you)

  • Visit an old general store – Since I live near an old historic village, this isn’t too hard.  You may have to search to find one.  But I promise, it’s worth it.
  • Drink a real bottled Coke – While you’re there, buy a real Coke in a glass bottle – sugar and all.  Drink it.  Repeat.  Feel your burnout fading.
  • Make homemade ice cream – If you don’t have a churn, try this one I found on NPR.  We’ve made it before, and it is delicious.

Is It That Simple?

  • Burnout is not simple.  I want to be sensitive to the fact that there are some issues that can’t be easily fixed.  But for those experiencing milder forms of burnout, engaging in hobbies, relationships, outdoor activities, etc. can be refreshing.
  • My goal is to put some ideas out there that have helped me in the past.  None of these ideas are very expensive.  And they are very unoriginal.  “Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.” George Orwell
  • If you have a gaping wound that this bandaid can’t fix, know that you have peers all around you, including the JournalFeed community, that have your back.  Anyone reading this would be glad to talk, more importantly, to listen.  Let’s take care of each other and do some simple things to take care of ourselves.





What are your thoughts?