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10 Ways to Fight Doctor Burnout

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Physician burnout is a very real and frustrating issue plaguing the medical world today.

Doctors are being overworked and underappreciated. There is little question that being a physician is one of the most critical and stressful professions today.

Doctors are often over worked which leads to a dangerous burnout cycle.

Doctors face a kind of stress that most people in most fields do not have to deal with. One resident wrote in to the New York Times saying “There is a strange machismo that pervades medicine. Doctors, especially fledgling doctors like me, feel pressure to project intellectual, emotional and physical prowess beyond what we truly possess.”

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We, as in people not involved in the medical field, tend to forget that doctors--while highly educated and trained-- are just people. A lot like us. But it is the pressure of having to act like they are more than human along with stressful hours that can lead to doctor burnout.

In a study done by Dr. S. Aggarwal of San Antonio, Texas, participants were asked what they like doing in their free time. “The doctors who are doing well, like ones who aren’t in a burnout or stress cycle- have an answer right off. You hear, ‘I like to fish,’ ‘I love to camp,’ ‘I go bowling.’ But the sad thing is that many doctors don’t have an answer.”

Research and other doctors alike agree that having hobbies and activities to do during personal time will help stave off burnout. So, what do most doctors like doing during their free time?

1. Reading

Reading is an important hobby to have for many different reasons. It can be educational and fun. It gives you an opportunity to learn from the knowledge and experiences of other people- whether they are real people or fictional characters. Reading also gives you an escape from your day to day life. It can supply a needed break from reality in a healthy way while being great exercise for you imagination.

2. Cooking

Cooking, once a dreaded chore, is a quickly growing popular pastime. With all of the hip food blogs out there, we believe that we too can make beautiful, tasty and healthy meals. Cooking can be a great hobby because there are always new recipes to try (so you’ll never get bored) and you can see progress the more you do it. Cooking is also a great reason to get together with friends and socialize

3. Walking

Exercise in general is a much needed hobby, but walking is something that is easy and can be done just about anywhere while getting your heart rate up. It can be done alone as personal thinking time or with others.

4. Cultural/ Art events

Attending and participating in cultural events is a great pastime because it leads to community involvement. It’s important to be involved in things that are not work or your patients, but that are still bigger than yourself.

5. Running/Jogging

If anyone understands the benefits of exercise it’s doctors. Running is not only a great form of exercise with many health benefits, but it is also cheap and flexible. When you’re a physician with varying and unexpected hours it may be hard to attend a gym, but you can run whenever and wherever you want.

6. Cycling

Cycling is not only great aerobic exercise but it is also efficient. Biking to work or around town can alleviate stress while saving gas and lowering your environmental footprint. It is also a very social sport and can lead to building new relationships.

7. Traveling

Anything that puts you outside of your immediate comfort zone helps you grow and is ultimately good for you. Traveling does that. It helps people get away from their everyday comforts, it expands awareness and it slows us down. And if any group of people need a chance to slow down it’s doctors.

8. Food/Wine

Probably the most important thing about food and wine events is the social aspect. Nothing brings people together like food. And finding the right wine to pair with it is not only fun but it’s educational as well.

9. Gardening

Gardening is something the whole family can enjoy and a great way to spend productive together time outside enjoying nature. It is relaxing and boosts your immune system.

10. Music

It’s interesting how closely music is tied to emotion. Music can be an instant mood lifter and learning how/ getting better at playing music builds self confidence.

Doctor's with hobbies are the happiest and least likely to become burnt out.

Having hobbies and enjoyable activities during free time is important for anyone. Pastimes reduce stress, improve self esteem and have been found to even increase sleep quality. With the amount of stress that doctors and physicians are under on a daily basis, finding meaningful and fun hobbies can certainly promote their overall happiness and prevent burnout at work.


Interested in learning more about doctor burnout? Download our Ultimate Guide to find out more about the burnout cycle and how to manage it.

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