Health & Fitness

Medical doctors going through burnout are turning to self-care

Elizabeth M. Goldberg is an associate professor of emergency medicine at Brown University in Providence and an emergency physician. “In March and April you felt like you were choosing either your patients or yourself and it was your expectation to be there,” said Dr. Goldberg, 38, who has three young children. “A lot of us wanted to be there, but I was scared and uneasy about going to work.”

She attended a free health care worker support group that she had never run before. “It was great to hear other people have similar experiences with me when I wasn’t sleeping well, worried about our family’s health, and spoke openly about our fears and fears of illness,” she said.

Kathleen S. Isaac, 32, a clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone Health who also practices in New York, started a weekly support group for residents in June. But not many doctors showed up. She attributes part of this to time constraints and demanding schedules, but also to the fact that many simply tried to be stoic and powerful.

“Asking for help is less stigmatized in the psychological community, but sometimes I think it gives a sense of ‘I’m fine, I know what I’m doing’,” she said. “There’s a culture of perfectionism and it’s so competitive that people want to do their best. It’s harder to admit that they have problems. “

This also applies to their own life. She talks to friends and coworkers, does exercises, goes to therapy, and admits to watching the sitcom “That’s So Raven” to relax.

Dr. Thompson credits the Body Mind Skills group for helping them change their own self-care routine and checking in with themselves every hour. “I ask myself, ‘What do I need? How do I take care of myself in this moment? Do i need a cup of tea? Should I use mind-body medicine? ‘”, She said.

This can include gentle stomach breathing, dancing, mindful eating, or just going outside for some fresh air. “Maybe I just need to use the bathroom and take time to attend to simple, basic self-care needs,” she said.

“This has been the hardest time of my life and I’m super grounded and very balanced,” she added. “I’m fine, but it’s constant work and I need to be aware of myself.”

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