For the first ever Physician Mindfulness Retreat, 20 physicians came from across the US to learn during the Martin Luther King holiday in January. There was a wide range of medical specialties represented, from Psychiatry to Family Medicine, Palliative Care to Radiology, General Internal Medicine to Obstetrics. Physicians trudged bravely to Massachusetts in the dead of winter from such points as California, Washington state, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, and Florida. The commonality was a desire to develop tools to manage the many stressors of practice.
What Physicians Had to Say about the Physician Mindfulness Retreat
The learning was completely experiential from interactive exercises to journaling to yoga. Mornings began with morning meditation and yoga. Dr. Paula Gardiner and I gave talks but there was no boring powerpoint!
How training sets us up for burnout and doesn’t give us the skills we need to manage it
Ways to work with your judging mind to decrease suffering
Building self-compassion as a way to manage self-doubt and the Imposter Syndrome
Strategies to manage challenging emotions and cultivate positive ones
Tips for spending more time being and less time doing
From a walking meditation to the ocean, to the hot tub (with suits!), to delicious chef-prepared meals, and time with new colleagues, in addition to all the learning, this physician resilience retreat provided many opportunities to relax and renew.
A Second Physician Mindfulness Retreat is Coming October 2018!
Mindfulness-based Coaching: Beyond The Physician Retreat
Mindfulness-based Physician Coaching™ is Dr. Gazelle’s unique approach to helping physicians avoid burnout, decreasing reactivity, improving leadership, and developing true presence at work and at home.
Utilizing a wide variety of evidence-based techniques, Mindfulness-based Physician Coaching™ helps physicians improve work satisfaction, create more balance, and lead more fulfilling lives.
“With Gail’s mindfulness coaching, I have more authenticity, ease, and enjoyment both at work and at home. The challenges in professional and family life remain, but I am more efficient and at ease with my clinical work, more comfortable with a wider range of emotions, and am living a much happier and full life.”
How much time do you spend on mental comparisons? Looking on Facebook and thinking everyone else has better relationships and is much happier than you? Thinking that everyone in your peer group is smarter than you? Or fretting about how much fitter, thinner, smarter, or more successful you were at a different point in your life? Much of our stress, frustration, disappointment, guilt, and regret is the result of comparing ourselves to preconceived ideas about how we should be acting, how we should be looking, and how our personal successes are perceived by others. Theodore Roosevelt once said that comparison is the thief of joy. Indeed, comparisons often keep us in a mental hamster wheel of self-doubt and lack of confidence. To combat physician burnout, it is critical to decrease the tendency toward comparisons.
But comparison allows me to improve my performance
You may believe that comparisons keep you on your toes. Let’s test this out. Think about any times you’ve compared yourself to someone else in the past week. Did the comparison help you feel good about yourself and your circumstances or did it send you into a spiral of self-critical thoughts? Did you feel energized and optimistic about your circumstances or did you feel defeated, inadequate, and that your life would be forever deficient?
Like advertisements, comparisons hold us in the belief that if we only had product or service X, we’d be happier, feel and look younger, and be the king or queen of our world. While it’s always good to work toward life improvement, comparisons typically leave you unable to focus on the satisfaction inherent in your current circumstances. Comparisons push your focus onto either the past or the future, or simply what’s wrong with the present. Comparisons keep you from being content and perhaps more able to accept what is. Right now.
How to stop comparing yourself to others
As a physician coach, here are four steps I teach to overcome the pull to comparisons:
Start tuning in to your own thought processes. Simply begin noticing when you are going into comparison-oriented thinking. Try not to judge yourself. Jot these instances down so you can begin to see how often this occurs.
Once you’ve noticed that you’re making a comparison, name it to yourself. Say to yourself “there I go comparing myself again.” Doing this begins to create a distance between the comparison you’re focusing on and the reality of the situation. Having that distance and separation is vital in having choice and control over your own thoughts.
Now ask yourself: What is the cost of this thought process? What would I gain if I spent less time on these mental comparisons? Journal about these questions.
Now for the challenge. When you find yourself making a comparison and coming up short, push yourself to think of at least three ways you, your circumstances, your thoughts, and your actions are right and adequate just as they are. Your mind will call you back to the land of comparison and self-criticism. Your job in this step is to exert equal and opposite force in the other direction! Definitely take notes here.
These steps take a lot of practice. What you will gain, though, is the ability to see your own strengths and accomplishments. You’ll find yourself experiencing more calm and a stronger sense of your own self-worth. Harkening the words of Theodore Roosevelt, you may even find yourself experiencing more joy.