Lasting weight loss and lasting freedom around food, where you can enjoy yourself around food, not constantly obsess about food, and lose the weight you want with confidence that it’s not coming back, comes from managing yourself as a whole human being in a kind and compassionate way.
Mental health issues amongst physicians are not generally talked about, and yet so many physicians are struggling. It’s time to make the shift and start recognizing that it is okay to admit when you are struggling.
As a physician you work at a very high level. You give and give and give to those around you, taking on more work, and continue at that level until you absolutely cannot continue. You experience burnout. And you likely hide it from those around you by putting on a front. This leads to feelings of isolation in burnout, depression and mood issues.
This past summer, if you had asked me how I was doing I would have told you that summer was going really well. That I was busy, but good. In hindsight, I wasn’t doing as well as I’d thought.
I was working a lot. I felt like I had a lot of things to do and I wasn’t doing a lot of self care along the way. My primary tool for self care is running, and a recent injury had limited my ability to run. Instead of finding new ways to incorporate some self care, I used the time that I would usually be running to get to work on my to do list. And these tasks are the things I like to do, and the type of work I get excited and passionate about. But it’s still work. And it led to overworking.
I was working on days when I was technically on vacation. There wasn’t a single day in the summer that I was completely off. This was self driven work, not medical work. This is work that I am passionate about and it makes it easy to drive myself to do this work. But even when it’s work you love, overworking is not healthy.
Overworking is one (of many) factors that leads to burnout.
And in early September, I crashed. I crashed hard. I realized I had been neglecting the important aspects of myself and I had to start rebuilding.
Even when you have all of the skills necessary to self coach, burnout and depression can happen. The reality is you will always have a human brain and tough times are part of the human experience. You can’t prevent them, but you can learn to recognize them earlier and recover more quickly.
How do you move forward and manage through the burnout?
- Don’t beat yourself up. Have compassion for yourself and acknowledge that what you are experiencing is a human experience.
- Put a pause on everything. Strip back the amount of time spent on work.
- Add self care back into your daily routine. And find multiple facets of self care.
- Talk to someone. This can be a friend, partner, colleague. Someone that you feel safe with. Start the conversation with a simple “I’m struggling right now” or “I’m not doing very well”.
- Talk to your doctor.
Burnout and depression can directly impact your weight and your struggles with weight loss. When you are in the depths of burnout and your mood is low, you may find that you don’t care. It is easy to make things worse by beating yourself up over your eating or your weight. This usually drives more eating and can easily worsen your mood.
I recommend taking a break from focussing on your weight, decide to trust yourself that you will sort it out when you are feeling better. And then put all your energy into doing what you need to do to feel better.
Focus on what you can do right now to improve your mood and alleviate the feeling of burnout. Do that first and put a pause on everything else. Ask yourself, what can you do today to feel just a little bit better?
And remember, you are not struggling alone.
Listen to the full podcast episode to hear more about my personal struggle with burnout over the past couple of months and how I am slowly working towards making things better.
If you are in crisis, there are people who can help. Call the physician crisis line or talk to your doctor.
Canada: 1-833-456-4566 or text 741-741
USA: 1-800-273 8255