Is it all about the profession or is it personal? The arguments are in favor of both. However two factors that put the medical profession on top of the list are:
a) The stakes being very high in the form of human morbidity and mortality and
b) The ethical and moral responsibilities associated with it.
But is it essential that these factors should mess up our work life balance? Then we come to the point that many a people who are not in medical profession also suffer from lot of work related stress and are unable to manage a healthy work life balance. While there are practicing doctors who are able to find adequate time for everything, there are clerks and teachers who constantly complain of lack of time and disturbing stress. In such definition, then every work has the ability to produce stress on the worker and every individual has the ability to work up a healthy work life balance.
The following questions are then important to be answered by each one of us in order to understand the reasons behind our stress.
1. Do I really like and enjoy my work?
2. Am I working in an environment of my choice?
3. Do I find my work monotonous or challenging?
4. Do I plan my day?
5. Do I do adequate delegation of my professional and personal work?
6. Can I keep my work and personal life separate?
7. Do I feel relaxed and happy while I work or tensed and pressurized?
8. Can I say no in situations I do not need to say yes?
9. Do I indulge in any hobbies or extracurricular activities regularly?
10. Can I communicate my feelings and emotions openly or do I feel bottled up?
11. Am I surrounded by healthy personal and professional relationships?
12. Do I exercise regularly?
13. Do I have a regular schedule and method for mental relaxation?
Honest answers to these questions would be enough for us to locate the real reason behind our mental stress.
Interestingly almost all of us know our answers but are not always willing to put in the efforts to work in the right direction for our healthy lifestyle and cope up with stress and anxiety in the right manner. In such situations, it is much easier to blame the profession, professional demands and professional environment. However, no amount of blame game can make this life worth living for us.
If we observe carefully, each one of the factors mentioned in the questions above have easy and obvious solutions. The bigger question then is- Are we ready to the take the responsibility of our life and make the necessary changes along with the uncertainties and risks involved.
Medical profession is a noble profession and comes with its inherent demands, but nothing in life is a compulsion unless we take it that way. Here are a few more questions this time specifically for the doctors and every other very busy practitioner:
1. Do I do the extra work because I have the passion or because I want to make the extra money?
2. If I have a huge work-load, do I spend enough in employing qualified and responsible people to handle the extra work-load?
3. Do I feel thankful for the abundance of my income or I never feel satisfied?
4. Do I know myself to be a special human being and not just a medical practitioner?
5. Do I know what would be the perfect work- life balance for me?
6. Am I ready to go the extra mile, may be sacrifice some of my expected income and make a choice for a healthy lifestyle?
In between the emergencies, odd working hours, demanding patients, there is always that extra hour to exercise instead of watching TV, there is always the option to refer patients to colleagues, there is always an option to do group practice and share, and there are many more options. The question is how do we plan to deal with stress at work? And what do we want for ourselves.