I’m a STEM gal through and through, give me facts and figures. But let’s get real…actual clinical practice isn’t straightforward like the multiple choice questions we cut our teeth on during medical school. Same goes for physician wellness knowing the numbers shows the severity of the problem without giving any type of actual solution.
Understanding that half of all us physicians are burnt out is one thing…but living it? That’s an entirely different ballgame.
As a physician who went through major burnout early in my career, there’s no way I could put a numerical value on how terrible I felt every Sunday when thinking about going to work the next day. Finding others who felt similar gave me a little more confidence that it “wasn’t just me,” but it didn’t give me clarity about how, or if, I wanted to practice medicine.
Sitting through wellness CME workshops helped me recognize that I wasn’t alone. But the presentations didn’t save me. What really rocked my world is what I now call my “inner woo-woo”.
What’s this woo-woo I speak of? Well, my definition is basically anything that wasn’t taught in traditional American education or any mechanism that cannot be proven by the scientific process. It’s meditation, affirmations, mental exercises, trusting intuition and “insightful” exercises. Stuff I rolled my eyes at 1000 times before actually trying it.
It took me getting to the very brink of mental and emotional exhaustion for me to finally put away my pride, admit I needed to try something unfamiliar and bring out my inner woo-woo.
At first, l felt downright goofy for making an effort to nail down my core values or write letters to my past self.
But y’all…I tried it and I’m never going back. Did it feel silly? Absolutely. But it also gave me the most profound and deeply insightful answers I had to date.
Here’s the thing. Whether or not you are in touch with them, your values drive your actions every day. These enduring internal beliefs help you measure what’s good or desirable and what’s not. They serve as broad guidelines in all situations, and exert major influence on your behavior, perception and decisions.
In short, figuring out your values and internal beliefs gives you guidance on your purpose. Science is still my first love, but now I let my woo-woo flag fly high.
So to all my fellow STEM nerds out there: Let a little woo into your life! It’s awkward and embarrassing at first, but I promise it’s worth it.