Work is a huge part of life. Many doctors work upwards of 40 hours a week. But the good news is that most doctors like their work. A recent study published in the Medical Journal of Australia found 87% of doctors are satisfied with their jobs, with GPs being at the higher end of the scale and hospital non-specialists sitting at the lower end.
It makes sense to want to enjoy your work life. If you’re feeling disillusioned or think there’s capacity to improve your happiness, there are a number of steps you can take.
1. Take the time to acknowledge your strengths
As a physician, your role is inherently high pressure. It is easy to focus on the things you can’t do and the people you can’t help, instead of focusing on what you have achieved.
As in any role, it is important for you to take the time out to celebrate your successes and acknowledge the good work you have done.
2. Break up your day with meditation
Struggling to find a break in the day with a constant stream of patients? Try taking a ten-minute time out to meditate. The constant stress of being responsible for your patient’s health can be overwhelming. Meditation will not only offer you a break from these demands but also offer increased emotional control.
3. Reflect on why you got into medicine
As a doctor, it’s probably not surprising to you that one of the most important factors in work happiness is purpose. A Harvard Business Review study found employees who could attribute meaning to their work reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction. They were also 1.4 times more engaged.
As a busy GP, it’s easy to forget to take the time to remember why you got into medicine. Take time out daily to reflect on the patients you have helped.
4. Limit the decisions you make throughout the day
Decision Fatigue is a regularly cited reason for unhappiness. From Obama to Steve Jobs, high pressure CEOs are cutting back on the decisions they have to make throughout the day to increase happiness and reduce stress.
As a medical professional, you’re faced with major decisions daily – some with the potential to be life or death. To reduce the number of decisions you have to make, inject some routine where possible. Eat the same thing for lunch every Tuesday or have a section of your wardrobe that is only work wear to take away the stress of simple, every day decisions.
5. Stock up on sleep
The American Psychological Association found Americans who get more sleep reported being both happier and healthier, but this isn’t news to you.
As a medical professional, you understand sleep is important for good mental health. But between long days at the clinic, extracurricular activities and family duties, it can be difficult to practice what you preach. Focus on good sleep habits each night and see how sleeping better improves your mood.
6. Take a walk
Breaking up your work day with physical activity is not only great for boosting your brain activity and reducing your waistline, but it’s also fantastic for your mood.
One University of Texas study found participants who walked for 30 minutes per day reported being happier than those who simply took time out. Get your endorphins pumping on your lunch break and head out for a walk around the block.
7. Spruce up your space
Try injecting some life into the clinic with flowers. One Harvard study found we are more energised and happier when looking at flowers. Another study by Harvard found flowers reduced anxiety, depression and negativity. So take a trip to the local florist and invest in some plant life for your desk.