Your Weekly Dose of Positive Medicine
As life has dramatically changed for all of us, it’s okay to be scared, anxious and angry. We are all on the same emotional rollercoaster. None of us know how long this will last or what the long term consequences of this pandemic will be. This uncertainty along with a real lack of control can be especially difficult for physicians as we struggle to take care of patients, our families and ourselves.
There are many great resources out there advising us all on how we can maintain our well-being during this time. We can take walks, meditate, practice gratitude, reach out to loved ones in other states or cities, spend extra time with our kids, and perhaps even reevaluate our priorities and way of life. While all of those activities are important, one thing that we as physicians must do now is to begin paying more attention to each other.
Pay attention to each other!
Throughout our lives, we have grown up in a competitive culture that pits us against each other. Moreover, we have become accustomed to this “lone wolf” culture as a normal way of life. We hide our insecurity and vulnerability so we can maintain our edge. We bury our emotions and self-medicate to hide the pain. This approach has not served us well in training and continues to sabotage our attempts to practice medicine. Even worse, our lack of cohesiveness and collegiality has been exploited by hospital administrators and insurance executives profiting from our labor. To them, we are a fragmented, overpaid and whiny group who must be “taught” how to run the business of healthcare.
It gets even worse. Physicians, in general, are reluctant to discuss mental health issues and are fearful (rightly so) of licensure/credentialing restrictions. Many feel that non-physician mental health professionals don’t “get what they are going through.” As physicians, now more than ever, we desperately need to do a better job of supporting each other. While a confidential formalized peer support for physicians by physicians is finally in place (https://physiciansconfidential.com), we all have an opportunity each day to help our fellow colleagues.
Rather than grinding through the workday, racing to retirement or our side gigs, we need to turn our attention to the suffering around us – in our patients, colleagues, and ourselves. It starts with simple acts of attention. After discussing a case with a colleague, ask them how they are doing. Are they getting enough rest? How are things at home? How are their families dealing with the current situation? Working with a troubled physician who appears to be struggling? Spend some regular time with them and encourage them to seek confidential professional help. Let them know that they are not alone. Ultimately, these are the moments in life that matter and we must learn to pay more attention to them, now more than ever!
Let’s take this moment to realize the power in a cohesive physician community.
Now on to this week’s ideas…
1. In Stressful Times, Make Stress Work For You.
“These are stressful times. As a result of coronavirus and the disease it causes, Covid-19, millions of Americans aren’t just worried about their health, but also about their livelihoods and their futures. At the same time, warnings abound that stress itself is bad for our health and might even make us more susceptible to the illness. The irony is obvious.”
Fortunately, there is an alternative approach. We can actually use that stress to improve our health and well-being. In this post, Alia Crum, an assistant professor of psychology and head of the Stanford Mind Body Lab, outlines a 3 step process to change our relationship with stress.
2. Empowering and Protecting Your Family During the Covid-19 Pandemic
“Every day we are learning more about the disease. I am no longer scared because I know the rules”
Dr. David Price, an Intensive Care Physician at Weill Cornell Medical Center, works exclusively with Covid-19 patients as New York City is under siege from the pandemic. In this informative and empowering video, Dr. Price shares facts about the virus, tells us what we can do to protect ourselves and our family, and replaces some of our fear with hope.
3. Building Your Pandemic Toolbox
“We are living in times that are rapidly changing, stress-filled, and unpredictable. This may be bringing up anxiety and worry for you. The following are some ideas on coronavirus stress management from three different psychological modalities: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Mindfulness. Understanding different approaches to cope with anxiety may help build a more robust toolbox to deal with your current worries.”
In this post, psychologist Leah Katz shows us how to incorporate simple strategies from three different psychological modalities to help cope with growing anxiety during this pandemic.
Two Quick Things Before You Go…
As physicians, now more than ever, we desperately need to do a better job of supporting each other. If you are struggling with the current demands of medicine, please know that a FREE confidential formalized peer support for physicians by physicians is finally in place. Contact Physicians Confidential.
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