Are you happy and fulfilled with your career and life at this moment? You have worked hard to acquire titles, possessions, and achieve goals on your life checklist. Perhaps something feels as if it is missing from your life, so you reassess or reassign another goal to cross over to the path of contentment.
I too spent my years checking off the lists to make sure that I became a doctor, got married (and then divorced) in style, and collected designer high heeled shoes.
There was a signature sound of my designer high heels that echoed in the hospital corridors where no stilettos had ever roamed before. The click-clack of my heels was the signal to my physician colleagues, nurses, and patients that I had arrived. Female brain doctor, epilepsy specialist, and never-to-recover chocolate addict. The truth of the matter was that I was overwhelmed and sleep-deprived trying to keep up with 80-90 hour work weeks. Despite professional success, I felt all alone. My single prayer every morning was that no one would discover my shame and loneliness that was I hiding underneath a starched white lab coat.
FEELING ALONE IN A VALLEY OF BURNOUT
Twelve years ago, I didn’t know that the symptoms I was suffering had a diagnosis of physician burnout. As a newly appointed faculty member in neurology at that time, no media headlines or studies were in existence to give my symptoms a name. Instead, I hoped that no one would find out the shame and struggles I was hiding underneath my starched white lab coat.
How do you know if you or a colleague is suffering from burnout? I always ask physician groups to look for the following: a feeling that the lights are on and no one is home. You may be going through the motions, struggling to keep up, and feeling disconnected from your life emotionally.
I just internalized the symptoms of emotional exhaustion and a low sense of personal accomplishment. I thought my problem was that I was a physician failure. I pushed myself to exceed RVU (relative value unit) expectations in the increasingly profit-driven world of medicine. I could never find the time in my 80- to 100-hour work week to catch up on research, medical records, or tend to my personal health.
ARE YOUR THOUGHTS RUNNING A MARATHON RACE IN YOUR BRAIN AS YOU TRY TO FALL ASLEEP?
We've all been there from time to time, right? If we've had a really busy day at work or an emotionally charged day, we just can't shut off our thoughts before bedtime. That's a normal response. However, if this is happening frequently and you're wondering, “What do I do now? Am I driving myself insane?” Let it be known, help is on the way. My goal today is to help you connect to calm and fall asleep.
WHY DO YOU HAVE LOW ENERGY WHEN YOU ARE CHUGGING CAFFEINE?
I find my high-performing executive clients and I share a similar struggle. Balancing meetings, travel, and some semblance of a personal life can drain our energy reserves. How about you?
Are you drinking several cups to a pot of coffee but still not quite feeling energized? Why does that happen?
When we're consuming large amounts of caffeine, we get a temporary high and focus and then crash really hard. Consuming excess amounts of caffeine boosts our inflammatory chemicals in the body and the brain. We tend to crave sugars, have difficulty focusing, and it just fuels the busy brain problem all over again. If our coffee is sweetened with sugary flavors, we experience the sugar high and crash much more quickly. It is okay; I am not here to judge, I am stoked that Pumpkin Spice lattes are back in season.