From LEW to You: Resilience and Burnout

What are resilience and burnout?

Schulich Medicine & Dentistry students face countless ups and downs during their academic and professional careers that can be testing and exhausting. Staying resilient is key to handling these challenges with composure and focus.

Resilience is the ability to handle stress in a healthy way, such that goals can be achieved with minimum stress or anxiety while also maintaining balance in one’s life. A resilient student can ‘bounce back’ from a period of negativity and prepare adequately for the next challenge while continuing to maintain personal health.

Burnout, a state of physical and mental exhaustion is an unfortunate but common result of lack of resilience. Demanding classes, a limited social life, and serious responsibility can lead a student to burnout quickly. Negative thoughts and feelings, irritability, reduced self-esteem, unproductivity, and exaggerated response to stress are also clear indicators of burnout. Even though a student suffering from burnout may start a task well, they quickly face decreased ability and skill.

Here are some easy tips and tricks to help you stay resilient in stressful times:

1. Sleep when you can and follow your body’s cues to tell you when you need to rest.

2. If you have to eat on the run, snack on healthy foods like apples and peanut butter, chocolate milk, hummus and carrots, nuts, or protein shakes.

3. Engage in simple relaxation and stretching exercises, such as abdominal breathing, and stretching and head rolls, throughout the day to keep your blood flowing.

4. Check your moods throughout the day and take a moment to step back, reflect and refocus when you start to feel anxious or overwhelmed.

5. Stay on top of your readings and lectures. Staying on track during the year rather than cramming before an exam works wonders for preventing burnout.

6. Listen to your body for clues that you may be getting sick, need to eat, or need some down time. Ignoring your personal limits can put yourself and those around you at risk.

It is a physician’s responsibility to enhance their own capacity for resilience; it will increase the quality of their work and minimize the risk of errors and burnout.

Schulich Medicine & Dentistry students can make an appointment with a LEW team member for help throughout the year to stay healthy and resilient, both mentally and physically. Contact LEW for more help with resilience and burnout.