THE LAST WORD

Five Ways to Cultivate Resilience

 

Resilience is a powerful weapon against burnout.

Fam Pract Manag. 2018 Jul-Aug;25(4):38.

Author disclosure: no relevant financial relationships disclosed.

By now, you’ve probably heard the statistic: More than 60 percent of family physicians meet the criteria for burnout.1 Many of the changes needed to combat this problem are beyond the individual physician’s control, but there is something each of us can do. We can cultivate resilience.

Resilience is our capacity to quickly recover from and cope with adverse circumstances and to view them as opportunities to become stronger. Family physician Maria Colon-Gonzales, MD, often says resilience is like a weapon for battling burnout; it can be extremely powerful, on offense or defense.

To cultivate resilience and gain internal power, five habits can help:

1. Focus on what matters. When our days are filled with frustrations or tasks that have no meaning, burnout is likely. So ask yourself, “What activities or roles are most important to me?” Make a list. Then, each week, plan what you want to accomplish — and say “no” to other activities or people — so you can spend more time on things that matter. Aligning your mission and values and finding your ikigai, or “reason for being,” can also help clarify where you should spend your time.

2. Renew your energy. You won’t be able to face the challenges of practice, or life, if you feel depleted. Think about what energizes you, and incorporate those activities into your day. Even small things can make a difference. For example, take mental or physical breaks during the day. Read a book you enjoy. Listen to music. Exercise. Keep a gratitude journal. Practice mindfulness using a smartphone app like http://www.mindfulnessdailyapp.com. Or keep a collection of inspirational or humorous quotes in your office.

3. Connect with others. In the highs and lows of life, we all need a support system. Unfortunately, some physicians neglect their relationships for so long that, when a crisis hits, they feel alone. Take time each week to be with family and friends without the distraction of electronics. Spend some

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Yu is director for quality and performance in the Ambulatory and Urgent Care division for Vituity, a national physician-owned health care delivery organization in Emeryville, Calif., and is the past president for the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians.

Author disclosure: no relevant financial relationships disclosed.

Reference

1. Shanafelt TD, Hasan O, Dyrbye LN, et al. Changes in burnout and satisfaction with work-life balance in physicians and the general U.S. working population between 2011 and 2014. Mayo Clinic Proc. 2015;90(12):1600–1613.

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