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Switching Off

As a foundation doctor, it can be challenging to switch off after a shift due to the emotional and mental demands of the job. In the first few months of becoming a foundation doctor, you might find that your mind is really busy thinking about patients you’ve encountered. You might even dream about work.  This is symptomatic of your compassion fatigue ramping up and requires you to actively putt things in place to separate and decompress from work. 

Taking the time to switch off is essential for maintaining your well-being and preventing burnout. Here are some strategies to help you switch off after a shift:

Create a Routine:

Create a routine for after your shift that signals the end of the workday. This can include changing your clothes, doing a relaxation exercise, exercising or having a shower.

Disconnect from Technology:

Disconnect from technology, such as email or social media, to create a clear separation between work and personal life. Mute work WhatsApp chats or consider buying a work phone, so you can put it away when you are finished. 

Engage in Relaxation Techniques:

Engage in relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, yoga, or meditation, to help calm your mind and body.

Engage in Activities You Enjoy:

Engage in activities you enjoy, such as reading, watching a movie, or spending time with loved ones.

Avoid Overcommitment:

Avoid overcommitting to activities or responsibilities outside of work that may add to your stress levels.

Practice Self-Care:

Practice self-care, such as getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and engaging in regular exercise, to maintain your physical and mental well-being.

Bedtime Routine:

Whatever time you go to bed get into the habit of practising a bedtime routine. This might involve, listening to quiet music, reading something (unrelated to work), going for a walk, having a bath/shower, or speaking with a friend/family member. If you have had a particularly difficult day, consider extending your bedtime routine in preparation for sleep. See ‘Sleep’ strategies in the ‘Tools’ section. 

Remember, switching off after a shift is essential for your well-being and long-term success as a foundation doctor. By practicing self-care, engaging in relaxation techniques, and disconnecting from technology, you can help create a clear separation between work and personal life and promote a healthier work-life balance.

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