by Linda L. Zange, DC, DABCO, DABFP, DABCA, FICC, Lic. Acup.
Strange topic for an Illinois Chiropractic Society publication. Yes and no. We are all doctors and feel a sense of invincibility. “Invincible” per the dictionary definition means: incapable of being conquered, overcome or subdued. Yes, as physicians we feel this invincibility, especially when we are working. We know it all or think we do for ourselves and others. WRONG!
We must LISTEN to our patients, not just hear them, or we would not stay in practice.
The next part is the caregiver, a person who provides direct care. Are you a caregiver? Yes to your mate, children, parents, grandparents, relatives, and especially to your patients. We must again LISTEN to their needs.
It is an extreme responsibility to be an invincible caregiver. SO STOP!!
We cannot be everything to everyone and be true to ourselves. More articles are being published regarding care for the caregivers and physician burnout. We are not as invincible as we think. Caring for others is a physical, emotional, mental and psychological strain on us.
In the last few years, we have all seen young colleagues stop practicing. The stress of attempting to be an invincible caregiver has overwhelmed them. Be it from physical problems, mental or emotional stress from dealing with insurance companies, obstreperous patients, paperwork, or the business of being a physician; the strain has taken its toll.
So how do we “STOP,” and recharge and re-energize? How do we stop burning out? We must learn to deal productively with our stress. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
ATTITUDE is everything. First, LAUGH, exercise the “child” portion of your personality.
EAT a “healthy” diet: even if you are not hungry due to stress. Eat anyway!
DRINK plenty of fluids. Hydration is essential to existence.
REST – get a “good” night’s sleep, easier said than done. If you are tired during the day, take a nap. It is not a sign of weakness, it is your body saying it needs more rest. So go get it.
EXERCISE sounds counterproductive to being tired, but a pleasant walk in the fresh air or bike ride is refreshing and restorative. It may be the one thing to help us clear our mind and get a good night’s sleep. Take a few deep breaths.
MUSIC is very therapeutic, whatever genre you like, and sometimes the louder the better, to drown out the constant thought processes that invade and upset us.
ASK FOR HELP. We are not a failure for asking for help. Get help, especially if caring for an ill, elderly relative, a sick or special needs child. Use community resources. Many resources are available on the internet. Just say YES, if someone offers help, from preparing a meal, going to get groceries or doing other errands. Accept graciously. We are not failing to be invincible, we are being sensible human beings. We are NOT superhuman. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. We get frustrated and may say the wrong thing to someone and regret it later. Do not chide yourself. We are, after all, human. Just remember to forgive yourself. Reward yourself for the little as well as the big things. Do not postpone your self-gratification– buy a book, get ice cream, have a lollipop, watch a cartoon, if you like. Who says you can’t? Do whatever makes you happy – BE SPONTANEOUS!
What else should we do for ourselves? We may need help as well in the form of support groups, counselors, clergy, psychologist, journaling, talking to friends — whomever and whatever it takes to reduce our stress, anxiety, and frustration.
Be sure to get regular check-ups. We cannot help others if we are ill. Do not rationalize or ignore symptoms. We think we are invincible physicians. Forget it. Be smart. We will get ill due to stress, fatigue, poor eating habits, lack of exercise and “doing double duty” between home and office.
Our invincibility and well-being are being challenged by our physical and psychological stress. We need to take care of ourselves as no one is going to do it for us.
So LISTEN and HEAR your body:
If tired – REST.
If hungry – EAT.
If thirsty – DRINK.
If aggravated / frustrated / angry – TALK / WALK / BREATHE.
DO whatever works for you.
We entered this profession to help others, but we are not invincible caregivers. The sooner we learn that the better practitioners we will become.
Do what you love and love what you do.
Be good to yourself first and foremost.
The invincible practitioner will shine forth.