Preventing burnout


I found the burnout prevention matrix above by Dr Dike Drummond useful.

This looks at 4 key areas which I will discuss below and considers strategies to:
  • reduce your stress at work ie setting firm boundaries
  • reduce your stress at home ie systems in place
  • increase your ability to re-charge at work ie seeking social support
  • increase your ability to re-charge at home ie meditation, yoga

General practice for me has always required a lot of my energy as I have always given it 100%. Before having kids, I could always re-charge this energy at home. As we grew our family, I lost not only the ability to re-charge, but needed to give more and more of my energy to home life.

Using this matrix, it seems clear why I bypassed prevention.

It enables me consider, what I could have done differently. What you could do differently, if you feel strong enough and enabled enough.


Are there changes that you could make at work, that would make a difference?

Many things won’t be changeable at work, so it is not worth wasting your energy on these. Focus on the changes that might make a difference. Small changes in the right places can be transformative.

Things to consider to reduce stress at work include:

  • Talking to colleagues & peers– are any of them struggling with the same issues as you – are there changes that could be easily made that would benefit you all?

  • Talking to your supervisor or manager to see what changes could be made to make your work-life balance better

  • Talking to occupational health or the lead person in your organisation for HR
  • A reduction in hours or workload. Are you able to cut right back on any external commitments that are work-related such as private work, extra roles? Can you reduce your clinic time or increase your consulting time? Are there other commitments in your personal life that aren’t essential that could be reigned in whilst you take action such as voluntary work (unless they are energising.)

  • Setting firm boundaries: being able to say no to extra work, being clear as to what you are taking on. Know your limits.

  • Setting aside time and headspace at the end of your day to clear your desk so that you are less likely to take work home

Things to consider to increase your recharge at work:

  • seeking social support at work – lunchtime get-togethers, team coffee breaks, engaging with colleagues. Developing friendships at work help buffer you from burnout.
  • Taking a break from screen time. This includes smart phones
  • Get moving – set aside some time to go for a walk or stretch
  • Engaging in some quick and simple relaxation strategies such as deep breathing, mindfulness. Time-out for a few minutes using this can be an immensely powerful way to reduce stress at work.


Are there changes at home that will help?

Things that might help re-charge at home

  • Get better sleep – more and better quality. Coping with sleep difficulties by Cambridge Primary Psychology service has some useful tips. NHS choices also have some useful advice on sleep hygiene.
  • Eat healthily. A low fat, low sugar diet.
  • Do more of what you enjoy. Re-discover hobbies and passions. Make time for them.
  • Surround yourself with people that give you energy. Try to avoid those that drain you further.
  • Set dedicated time aside for yourself. This could be something relaxing like a bath, going to the cinema or reading a book or just spending time alone thinking. What you do does not really matter. Try to choose something that you look forwards to and gives you a break. Doing something that you enjoy means that you spend less time worrying. Relaxation strategies that I have found particularly helpful are yoga and mindfulness meditation. These strategies will not suit everyone, but it is important that you find something that works for you.
  • Do more exercise. Could going for a short walk, run or swim before or after finishing work be incorporated into your daily regime? This would help you feel better but may also help you unwind after a busy day.


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