Many of us in medicine struggle to justify why we should slow down and give ourselves a break.
We’re used to putting others’ needs before our own.
We’re used to unrelenting unrostered overtime; oncall callbacks at 3am; weekend shfits trickling into birthdays and holidays; and working through illness.
If only there was a book that helped us justify to our evidence-based selves WHY we need to rest.
Alex Soojung-Kim Pang does this brilliantly in his easy-to-read manual, “Rest.”
Alex is a Silicon Valley consultant used to seeing that other modern group of trophy chronic overworkers - tech workers.
No longer is “hustling,” “crushing” and “burning it” a badge of honour for your work.
And no longer are you badgering yourself for not “working hard enough”. You probably already are. This book teaches you how to work SMART.
Doctors know well (or should know!) that as physiologic stress hormones, chronic raised adrenaline and cortisol (which are essential hormones that help regulate our daily functions in normal health, not an evil in themselves!), can lead to raised blood pressure; heart disease; higher stroke risk; obesity; cancers; some thyroid disorders; some autoimmune conditions; and other conditions. As part of the body’s natural homeostasis/resetting, we all need sleep; good nutrition; regular exercise; and unregulated downtime- sitting and doing nothing, allowing ourselves to drift to boredom and creativity. (They say having bouts of boredom in our lives actually helps fuel creativity and innovation- hence why people struggle when they try to find a “job they love” that never bores them 24/7- the fact is, those peaks and troughs even in your dream pursuit, help you stay stimulated, curious and engaged with your passion!)
When we set that homeostasis out of whack due to shift work; chronic long hours (and everyone has a different set point for when they feel tired after a certain number of hours - your 40-hour week may be someone else’s 100-hour week!); irregular sleep habits; poor diet; and basically being “on” all the time; eventually, our bodies catch up and physically can’t take it anymore without an even longer rest, if it ever recovers.
Workplace burnout has recently been recognised by the World Health Organization as a “workplace syndrome” classified by the International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-11. This makes it even easier for us, whether we’re in medicine, tech or otherwise, to recognise signs of burnout, and the need to switch off and rest as part of our work/life routine.
Alex’s book gives tips from his research and work on this subject, and illustrates it with anecdotes from scientists who’ve raised productivity through napping; Stephen King’s writing routine; the benefits of walking; and other simple, inexpensive and time-effective measures for longevity in your work-life continuum. Like most books we recommend, it’s easy to read on the train, in bite-sized pieces, or all at once during your favourite reading time.
So, no more excuses. You deserve to Rest!
(The Medical Startup is an affiliate for Book Depository.)