I Suffered From Physician Burnout. Here’s How I Changed Things for the Better

A trip with my daughter taught me the importance of slowing down, and standing still.

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Mikroman6/ Getty Images
Mikroman6/ Getty Images

“Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life” -Brian Andreas

Time is life’s most precious gift, yet we often feel like we don’t have enough of it. Responsibilities of work and family pull us away from having precious moments with loved ones and spending time nurturing our own wants and needs. This time strapped feeling creates a void and makes us feel like we are not in control of our own lives.

What if we can make better use of the time we have now? What if we can make time stand still?

How many of us feel like if we could turn back the hands of time, we would have spent more time with family, taken that dream vacation, gone back to school or made amends with a family member or friend. We can reclaim the time that we lost, if we stop and do it now. We must take time into our own hands and fill it with the things that bring us happiness. The fact of the matter is that we can make time stand still.

I, like many other physicians suffered from burnout.

As a physician, I spent long hours in the office, mornings and evenings rounding in the hospital, and nights and weekends on call. I often had to sacrifice time with family and friends to take care of others.  I started to believe that this was time lost that I would never get back, and there would never be a way to create those memories and moments later with my children.

It was my daughter who saved me from burnout and made me stand still.

She brought into my awareness, the lack of presence and the joy that was missing in my life. She made me realize that I had to work on finding balance for my own emotional and physical well being as well as for the sake of our family. What I had begun to understand was that I had to be intentional about making time for them.  I had to be present and in the moment by being still. It was one piece of the puzzle to fighting burnout.

Our time away

I redefined what my time away with family would look like. This past summer I decided to take a girl’s vacation with my daughter. With her busy school schedule and my busy work schedule we needed some alone time to reconnect.  I decided to become intentional about making the time and not waiting around for it to magically appear or for my work load to lessen. So, I planned a road trip to Savannah and Charleston. We were truly excited about this adventure and the planning was just as much fun as the trip. We were able to reconnect and catch up on what was happening in our lives.

During our drive, I was intentional about pointing out nature along the way, stopping to learn some of the culture and of course talking about any and everything along the way. We enjoyed great food, museums, cultural exhibits, the ocean and walks in the park. Each new food was savored. We enjoyed trying different ice cream flavors. During each museum visit we took the time to learn something new and experience what it must have felt like for the people in those times. We welcomed the feeling of sand between our toes on the beach, the ocean water on our skin and the sun on our faces. The walk in the park ended with a moment where we stopped to swing on a park bench and felt the breeze blowing through our hair.

My daughter and I enjoying a day in the park on a bench swing in Charleston

That week it felt like time stood still.

I was able to enjoy my daughter and our time together in that moment without distractions or being pulled in ten different directions. My focus was on her and our relationship and there will never be a regret of lost time. It seemed like the time spent with her somehow magically doubled in that week. It was the quality of the time spent with her and not the quantity. 

My commitment

Each moment spent with my children I have committed to being still. I concentrate on enjoying the wonders of life, the experience of being their mom and the awe of their existence. I have begun to perceive that this precious time that I am given to be in their presence is something bigger than myself. It is what researchers call the feeling of awe. Think about what happens when you see the sunset, or experience the birth of a child, or you’re in the presence of a famous person. It often feels like time just stands still. I learned that I was able to recreate this feeling and this experience with my loved ones.

Be open to new possibilities

Here are some ways in which we can start to view each moment as new and amazing and be open to the possibility of learning something different. We can make time stand still by spending more time with our children and be still as we look at the world through their eyes. We can spend more time outdoors and appreciate nature. We can visit new places and try new things. We can put the wheels into motion and start that new career path or business. We can practice gratitude every day and appreciate our existence in the world.  

We can make time stand still just by how we decide to show up. ​

So how will you make time stand still in your life?

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