Dealing with Burnout with Errin Weisman

Episode Thumbnail
This is a podcast episode titled, Dealing with Burnout with Errin Weisman. The summary for this episode is: <p>This week on The Badass Women's Council, Rebecca talks with Errin Weisman about burnout. Errin is a life coach specializing in burnout with high achievers, making this episode the perfect conversation to continue helping high-achieving women. Today, Errin shares insight into the burnout healthcare workers experience and assists with tips on keeping ourselves from getting to the point of being burnt out. Listen now!</p>
Errin breaks down the burnout healthcare workers experience
03:05 MIN
Detoxing from an addiction to work
03:17 MIN
Tips to help yourself not burn out
03:20 MIN
What finally helped make the switch for real change
01:47 MIN
This week's reflection question
00:42 MIN

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: This is Rebecca Fleetwood Hession, host of The Badass Women's Council Podcast. And I'm super glad that you're here. We provide reflection and connection for the high achieving woman. So obviously, the podcast episode you're listening to by yourself, so the connection you can find at badasswomenscouncil. community. Come on in and join us. All right. Here we go. I'm excited for you to hear this interview with Errin Weisman, who is a family practice physician. She's also a coach, and she specializes in helping those in healthcare deal with burnout. And we talk about burnout here on the podcast quite often. It's the reason that my business exists, is to help high achieving women ban burnout. And what you're going to hear from Errin is some perspective about dealing with burnout that floored me to the point I messaged all of my clients, and it stirred up a conversation that is still happening weeks later today. I can't... Yes, this a teaser. This is an, oh, my gosh, you've got to listen to this episode. Here you go. All right. Errin, thanks for being here.

Errin Weisman: Yeah. Absolutely, Rebecca. It's great to be here with you today.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: So I've met my fellow burnout topic person.

Errin Weisman: Hell yes, you have. And we're in the same state.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And we're in the same state. I love when somebody says, " You have to talk to her. She talks about burnout too." Oh, yay. Everybody loves the burnout topic because it's real. So you come at it from a different perspective, from a different industry. I come from corporate America. You come from healthcare, where now that I've looked into it, that's way worse than corporate America from a burnout perspective. Holy crap, way worse. Want to give us a little just in a nutshell, summarize how bad it is for doctors, nurses, and all the people?

Errin Weisman: It's amazing to me. It was bad prior to the disease that shall not be named. And it'll be very interesting in the next five years when we study physicians, nurses, extenders, all levels of people who work in medicine and in healthcare, to compare, because right now all of our statistics show somewhere between 40% and 70% of doctors are burned out pre COVID. All of our numbers show that we lose 200 to 300 doctors a year to suicide before COVID. All of our numbers show that nurses are somewhere between 50% and 80% looking to change jobs in the next six months, before COVID. That I think it will be a very stark reality to see what those numbers are. Back when the pandemic started, people were already tired in medicine. And life is not going back to normal. This is what it is. It's getting back to better. And healthcare is having a really hard time right now thinking, " Oh, we'll just go back to how we were going to do it." Just push a little harder, give a little more, do another shift, stay four hours later. And it really is going to be so important in our industry that we have a fundamental change for how we do work. And so my burnout predated all of this by almost a decade. So luckily, I've had these skills. I've learned these coping mechanisms. I've been in coaching for a while, but I feel so bad for my colleagues who they kept their head down, and they kept thinking it's going to get better, it's going to get better. And then the pandemic hit, and then they dig down a little farther. It's going to get better. It's going to get better. And I just have to tell them, " Friend, it's time to lift your head up. It's time for you to make those changes," because really, it's learned helplessness a lot of times that I see for folks that are kind of stuck in the grind and perpetually burning out. And I say, " Before you get to the bottom of the barrel and you're ready to burn the m effer down, let's talk about things. And let's make shifts." So my purpose in this world as a physician burnout coach is to empower individuals so that we can change the system as a whole. And so it is a systemic problem. I need to go back and say that, that there's been some studies that have come out, Stanford Model of Professional Wellness shows that two thirds of the issues in professional burnout in healthcare is culture and system. Only one third is personal resiliency. And let me tell you, when you're an alpha female, either in business, in corporate America, or in healthcare, there isn't anybody more resilient than you. So resiliency training is bullshit. We don't need any more of that. We've got to have systemic changes. But at some point, you have to say, " No more bloom where I'm planted. No more keep my head down. It's time to get a new fucking garden and make those changes."

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Well, the last couple of episodes, we've been talking about the framework I use in my work, which is largely business, is business is human. Right? So the business needs to control, measure, optimize, which is the same thing in healthcare. Right?

Errin Weisman: Mm- hmm(affirmative).

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And that's what a good business or a good or should do. But humans are personal, emotional, and social. And those are the needs that we have. That just is. And so the more we try to control, measure and optimize our lives, the more we leave behind the things that we desperately need for our brains, our hearts, our bodies. And it's got to stop. And so I have a book coming out in February, and I call it, We've Entered the Age of Humanity. And if you haven't looked up and realized that's where we are, you're part of the problem, or you just need to look up and get on board. Right? So it's here, it's been here, it was here before the things that we aren't going to name. But that just exacerbated how big of a problem that it is.

Errin Weisman: Absolutely, I agree because being quote, unquote, raised in medical culture, as you're coming through medical school and residency and fellowship training and all of that, the paradigm of work harder, work hard, play hard, but you don't ever really play hard, but work harder. Patients come first. Push your basic needs to the side. You can come back to them. Being God complex, superhero robots, like you said, it has to go away because I'm just as human as everybody else. I'm not a special unicorn just because I have special initials behind my name. I still have to pee. I still have to eat several meals a day. I get sick. And so I think, like you said, coming into the age of humanity and rationalizes, I don't think it only helps on the individual side. I think in healthcare what it's going to do, we're going to look at the malpractice side and be like, " Listen, things happen." Yes, neglect, obvious error in medical judgment should be prosecuted through the legal system. But guess what, I take care of human beings, and they don't read the textbooks. Things happen. And so accepting that shared humanity of everyone, or like, hey, you call into the office, your doctor's out today. I'm sorry. But we can see you tomorrow. Rationalizing that, that's okay. That's okay for people to take breaks. That's okay for them not to be there is important.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Well, the literal training hours culture that healthcare goes through feels to me from an outsider like a bit of the hazing period of what's about to become your life. Right? So head down, study, don't eat, don't sleep. Get through it all. And then the shifts, and the way that those are scheduled, and the people that I've talked to, like you, that have lived that life, there's nothing human about that.

Errin Weisman: Yeah. It can be very demoralizing. And it's an observation that I've made is we go from having a study addition to having a work addiction because the thought process is if I study harder, then I will advance and I will meet my goals. If I work harder, then I will meet my goals. And what really happens is by always doing that work, by always putting our head down and grinding, what we're really doing is using that as first a positive coping mechanism because in an industrial society, the more you work, the more productive you are, the more that you're rewarded. But at some point, when does it become an addiction? I think it's when we start using it to not take care of unprocessed emotions, when we're using it to validate our worth and how we show up into the world, and when we start using work to justify all of our decision making.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Agreed, wholeheartedly. When I work with my clients, I want them to discover their unique personal story, so they can then stand tall in that story and live a life full of soul and emotions and their natural curiosity about their unique gifts, talents, and abilities, so they can live a thriving life because our brains are hardwired for stories, and our brain wants us to thrive. So I help my clients tap into that. And I also have a sponsor for this podcast called Storybook, which is a unique and innovative platform that helps you bring your company's stories to life by tapping into the emotional flow and the natural curiosity that we have about your products and services. So check them out, you can go to my website, WEthrive. live. Click on the stand tall in your story link and see the kind of work they're doing for us, or go to their site, cantaloupe. tv and there's hundreds of stories there that they've created that you can experience. Check them out. We're so grateful to work with them and for them to sponsor the podcast. One of the areas that you help coach is this getting more aware of the need to rest. But you talk about it as actually detoxing from that addiction to work.

Errin Weisman: Yeah, absolutely. So if work is your drug, then rest is your active detox. And I frame it up that way, so I'm board certified in family medicine, but I also do a lot of addiction medicine work here recently in my area of the country. And I tell all of my patients, I tell all of my coaching clients, we're all recovering from something because we're human beings and we don't like to feel pain. We don't want to feel pain. So instead, we find those substitutes. And I don't know how I made it through school, I made it through the'90s and never experimented with drugs or alcohol, but I didn't. That wasn't who I was. And so I tell my patients all the time, work is my drug. That's how I found my validation. That's how I numbed my pain. That's how I got through really hard times. You picked up pills, or heroin, or alcohol, or meth, or whatever, gambling, shopping, pick an addiction and go with it. And so with that then, once you identify, oh, my gosh, I've been numbing myself away, you have to see. What is my detox? What is getting away from it. And it's so hard again in a patriarchal, industrial society, when you say, " Oh, my God. I'm overworking. Oh, my God. I'm burning myself out. I have to take a break." And people are like, " What? Are you kidding me?" So I'm here to totally normalize sabbaticals, to normalize taking mental health breaks, using your short- term leave policies that you have at your job because rest is the detox you need. But here's the thing, rest doesn't feel good. It feels ass awful. If it felt good, then we all would do it and we all would be healthy, and we all would be balanced and we wouldn't be burned out because we'll feel like it's like laying on a hammock on a beautiful summer day with the birds chirping and an amazing glass of sweet tea. But really what rest feels like is that literal pain, the withdrawal from your drug, so that you have to look yourself in the face and process the anxiety, and all the fears, and all the emotions that come up. I mean, it's work. And I see so many people who they come to me, they're burned out. They're like, " Errin, what do I do?" And we coach through it and we work through it. And they start taking their rest and their break. And they're like, " Okay. I'm going to organize all the closet. I'm going to paint my house. And we're going to re- landscape everything. And I'm going to take my kids everywhere and we're going to travel and do a stay- cation." I'm like, " Whoa, whoa, whoa, friend. You've just taken a break from your professional work. And now you've translated your addiction into home work." And so doing actual rest, like sitting with yourself, looking at yourself in the face, it's hard. It's really, really tough. So one thing I always tell people that what you should do, even if rest feels really, really bad for you, is do it anyway. And know that the goal is not to feel good, but instead, it's to meet who you are now, explore what you want, figure out what's really important with you, and not numb away from the fear, not numb away from the anxiety, not numb away from the emotions. And that eventually, you will build on that skill and it will get better.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Okay. I'm in love with this conversation, couple of things. One, when I left my 19 year corporate career, I went through a detox that I hadn't anticipated was going to happen because I was leaving for this sexy, wide open space of entrepreneurial creativity and endeavors that was going to just make my heart and my brain and my everything happy. Instead, what happened was... And I'm a good sleeper, by the way. I don't typically have anxiety. When I sleep, I sleep. I was waking up in the middle of the night panicked. Was I late? Was I in the wrong city? Did I have a proposal that was overdue? Was I in trouble at work? Now I was an entrepreneur, so if I was in trouble with work, I was in trouble with my own thoughts. And I did not prepare for this. I didn't know that was going to be a part of the deal because I had come from... I was traveling. I was in three cities a week for six, seven, eight weeks in a row sometimes. And coming down off that level of being constantly stimulated and needing to know where I was going to be next was really hard, uncomfortably hard, anxiety hard. And now when I'm helping others as a coach make some career transitions, I haven't talked about it like you were talking about a detox, but I'm going to use that. I'm going to quote you and say, " Hey, here's how it works," because it's true. I experienced it.

Errin Weisman: Yeah. It brings up all those things that we have shoved away in our proverbial closet and slammed the door behind and been like, " I'll deal with that later." It's like the Christmas decorations when you bring them down and you don't organize them. You just shove them in for next year. Eventually, either it's next year, and it's time to deal with those Christmas decorations, or it's so full, the door pops open. And that's when people have an acute illness, or an accident, or something that just floors them, a job loss, something that just knocks you on your ass. And you have to look in the closet and be like, " Holy shit. I got 19 years of shit in here. What do I do? How do I process through that?" And so I want to give a few keys in case there's some people thinking out there like, " Oh, my God, this is me," because I'm raising my hand. This is 100% what I went through and what I continually do.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: That happened to me. I ended up with two months of pneumonia, which is one of the reasons I made the changes.

Errin Weisman: There you go.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And I was never sick person, but boom, smacked me in the face. So yes, keep going.

Errin Weisman: Okay. So the first tip with this is I want everyone to look at their calendars and see what's filling their days, see what's filling their months. See what has filled all of that. And then I want you to take a post- it note and write what are the most important things in your life. Go back to your calendar and see where they're at because I bet they're not there. And so that's the very, very, very first thing, is really getting aligned with what is most important to you. And what are you giving your time to? Because your time is a super valuable resource that we have delegated, negated, given away. And then at the end of the day, there's no reason why we feel... That's exactly why we feel empty and overworked, because the things that fill us up, things that are most important to us and that give us life, are not in our lives. And so that's part of the pause, that's part of the active detox rest, is to really recognize. What is important in my life? And why is it not there? And so the next step then is: How do I build it in there? And that's where I give one of my favorite lines, which is no is a complete sentence. You've got to start using that word.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Well, the phrase we use is when I get caught up, I'll do that. And caught up is not a place. In fact, that's a name of a chapter in my book. Caught up is not a place that we get to.

Errin Weisman: Absolutely, it's inaudible. It's never there. It is, you are here and you are now. And I think that's one of the things that it took me long time, even though I, on consistent basis deal with people's health and their life that can be gone in a second, is just recognizing that when you're always in a goal centered life, where you're like, " Okay, when I get to that milestone, then we'll do that." And then when I get out of residency, and then when I get the practice, and then when I get partnership, and then when I, and then when the kids are out of the house, and then when I got my retirement fully stocked. If we keep doing that, it's no wonder you feel like you're on the hamster wheel inaudible because you're inaudible. It's getting off and saying, " Okay, in this moment, this is what I'm doing." I'm not hugely woo-woo, but I'm definitely a little woo, and so the mindfulness stuff I think definitely has a place.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Well, I recommend to my clients that they have a daily stillness practice for 10, 20 minutes, 30 if you can. And the level of angst on their face when I first ask them to do it is just frightening. And I was the same way, but I realized one day, I was journaling, it was a Saturday morning. I'd been on the road all week. And I wrote in my journal, " I just want every morning to feel like Saturday morning," because I got my best ideas then. I felt so calm and at peace. And then when I started my own business, I thought, " There's no reason why you can't have every morning be like a Saturday morning." So I started that practice to have daily morning stillness. And it transformed my life. I can say that wholeheartedly without any amount of hyperbole intended. It changed my life.

Errin Weisman: I would 100% agree because again, it's counter cultural to stop. And when we learn to stop, we learn to sit with ourselves, we learn to recognize that all our thoughts are not facts, they're just thoughts. And you can just let them go. You don't have to hang onto every letter of them. And it also starts to help you see the patterning of your brain and to be like, " Oh, my God. That's some toxic shit in there."

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Absolutely. When I had the two months of pneumonia, I'm glad that I've always journaled because I... Thoughts were starting to come up in all that stillness, things that I knew I had to deal with, and I couldn't go to work and numb it out. Right? I couldn't even have a glass of wine because I was sick. And so one day when I was starting to feel better, I sat with my stack of journals from years, and I read them all back to back. It took me hours. And what I saw were the patterns, the hopeful, it's going to get better, and then it doesn't, the hopeful, if I read the next book, I can make that change, and then it didn't. And I said to myself, " I can either keep living that year over and over and over and over again, or I can make some really dramatic life changing decisions and shake myself out of it." And that's ultimately what I had to do.

Errin Weisman: Okay. You go first. What was it that finally switched over to real change instead of you continuing to cycle, but actually to go in a different direction?

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: The awareness of it, to see it in a year over year pattern, I could no longer ignore it because then I was sitting with myself saying... I'm annoyingly positive as a person in general. You can't turn this into some... I'm famous for when things are bad, well, I can make this fine. I can take the lesson. I couldn't. There was no amount of positivity that was going to change this thing. There was no next book that I was going to read. There was no another counselor or therapist. I had to look at the patterns of multiple years and say, " Okay, the common denominator in all this is me, and I'm going to have to make these changes, they're going to suck. And they're going to hurt people. And if I don't make them, I've sacrificed myself."

Errin Weisman: Do you think for yourself... Listen to me go all podcaster on you. Do you think it was a eureka moment or a rock bottom moment?

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Well, it wasn't rock bottom because I was living on a 23 acre estate with two kids, two dogs, and enough money to buy my way out of whatever I needed to buy my way out of. Right? So I can't by any means call that rock bottom. So it was a eureka... It was a blessing. I'm a very... I'm Jesus freak faithful. And so it was a God moment. I really felt like by reading those journals, and I just sat that day and just prayed. And I just had that moment where I heard God say, " I will give you grace. This is going to suck and you need to make changes. But I'm here, I got your back. Let's do it."

Errin Weisman: I love it. I love it.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: It was interesting though because the first place that I thought that I was going to... I'll just go get a new job.

Errin Weisman: You're talking into the burnout transition coach, and so I did everything you just said.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I do that all the time. That was my first thing. And then I was like, "Well, I'm still going to have the job." That might... And the job was the easy part. The job was the thing that was making me happy. And then I was like, " Okay. Well, maybe not." Then I was like, " Well, maybe I'll just sell this big house and it won't be as much inaudible." And ultimately, I got to the point where I was in an 18 year marriage that was... We were killing each other trying to stay together, and it was impacting every other aspect of my life. And he and I are great friends now. We spend holidays together. I told you that when we first jumped on and met each other. We're great friends now, but it was not going anywhere. And it was killing us trying to stay together. And I was like, "I've got to deal with the damn thing." And that was the first inaudible. So I asked for the divorce, then I said, " Okay. I'll stay in this house for a while and see if the house still sparks joy." And I stayed there for about a year until the kids got transitioned. I was like, " Nah," moved into a smaller house. Then I was like, " Well, if I still feel, then maybe I'll quit my job and start my own thing." And so I just kind of unraveled and reassembled my life over about four years. So it wasn't like I changed everything immediately. Over four years, I made some pretty dramatic changes.

Errin Weisman: I have to tell you, so I've been coaching for seven years now, almost eight. And that is the pattern that is sustainable. So I just want to put that out to everybody. It's not like one morning, you wake up and the clouds depart and the sun shines down, and you are a different person. It's all about taking the next best step, and you're not going to see the whole story until you look back on your journey retrospectively. For me, it's been years as well, of taking the next best step, and then the next step after that, and then the next step, because even though we want to be five and 10 year planners, you've got to stay in the now. And just know that there's a North Star that you're moving towards, and that the path is probably not going to be how you charted it on your piece of paper, but that's okay. You've just got to take the next best step. And so to do that, it's all about what I like to call the Cs, so having your Cs around you, your community, so vitally important to have that support. Learning self compassion, huge, huge step for me. If you haven't read the book by Kristin Neff called Self Compassion, you go on Amazon, you get it today. It's$ 11 right now. Read it because no one taught me how to be nice to myself, and my world changed when I started doing that. Community, compassion and then borrowing some courage, finding someone or something, maybe it's your faith like you talked about your spiritual life. For me, it was really finding that courage of other people, and then that's what empowered them to take those next best steps.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Because if we're so married to the five, 10 year plan, we miss some really meaningful moments in the moment that could be the thing that's trying to get our attention because we're supposed to make a pivot or a change. And I think my loyalty to goals and strategy and execution of my personal life kept me from realizing that there needed to be a pivot. And once I woke up to the fact that I couldn't plan this thing better, then I just had to make a new plan.

Errin Weisman: Well, medicine, you go into it when 18, 21, and it's a good slog through for the next couple decades. You are not the woman who started this journey. So why would you stay on that same plotted path? And allowing yourself to change, giving yourself the permission to say, " We're going to do it different," and loving that woman who started the journey and who was doing the best that she could, but also giving yourself the forgiveness and the compassion to say, " But in this moment, this woman, she's going to do things a little differently," and that's okay.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And that's okay, and that's okay. I love this. I love that you gave tips, you gave advice. You gave good stuff. How can people continue to stay connected to you? Because you have a podcast or two yourself. How can we stay connected with you?

Errin Weisman: Absolutely. So since you're listening to podcasts, hop on over to Doctor Me First. It's a podcast I started several years ago because we first must take care of ourselves. We first have to fill our own cups because nothing comes out of an empty cup but disappointment. So come over there, even if you're not in medicine, I still give a lot of good Errin sass. If you're feeling burnt out, if this message is resonating, tips and tricks you want to hear other people, I am really putting a light on burnout, and naming it, normalizing it so that we can all move through it. And so my second podcast is called Burnt Out to Badass. And that's where I'm sharing stories of other people from all industries on what their journey has been, what has been their healing path, and where they are at next. So because podcasts are like tattoos, once you get one, you kind of just don't stop. So those are my two podcasts. If you want to hang out with me on social, I love Instagram and LinkedIn. So come find me, Errin with two Rs. It'll be in the show note, Errin Weisman, or like I said, Errin Weisman D. O. on LinkedIn.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Awesome. So I didn't realize that your other podcast was called Burnt Out to Badass. So kindred spirits right here because we met through Ashley Butler, who's now a part of my rise and thrive experience for season three. And I hadn't done really my podcaster homework. I just went on her recommendation and we jumped on the phone. And now I realize we were supposed to meet.

Errin Weisman: Absolutely, absolutely.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And none of this was in our five year plan, but here we are.

Errin Weisman: That's right. That's right.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I think you're amazing. Thank you for being on the show. Thank you for the work that you're doing to help in this age of humanity shift that we're in. And I think you're pretty badass. I told you it would blow your mind. So if we're all addicted to something, including busyness, achievement and productivity, then stillness is the detox. And we've got to get through the discomfort to get the benefit of the other side. Mind blown. Hey, y'all, if you're looking for other breakthroughs like this, I've got a cool thing starting late January. It's called Badass Breakthroughs for 2022. It's a virtual group of 10 high achieving women, well, the high achieving women are real women, but they're meeting virtually. And it's two things, it's one on one coaching with me once a month, and once a month, a group session with these other women. I would love for you to check into this. It's going to be the opportunity for you to look at yourself, your old patterns, create new patterns. And that's where we get the idea of breaking through. So if you want to check it out, message me. Let's schedule some time to chat about it. We already have I believe four people signed up, so six spots left. Jump in, we'd love to have you. So your reflection question for today is: Do you have a maybe a little bit of an addiction to achievement? Is your first reflection question. And then the second one is: What would inspire you to get through the discomfort of stillness to get what's on the other side of stillness for you? That's the reflection question. So one, do you have a little bit of an addiction to achievement maybe? No shame in that game. We are all in on the struggle bus there at some point. And the second question is: What is inspiring enough to get you through the discomfort of stillness to be able to practice it on a daily basis? Okay, y'all, make it a great day. And please join the online community at badasswomenscouncil. community, where we can continue the conversation and you can meet other badass high achievers like you. Thanks so much. Make it a great day. If you like the music for the podcast, go to iTunes, Spotify, wherever you listen to your music, and look up Cameron Hession Clouds, you can download the full song there. He's got some other stuff out there as well. And y'all, he's my son. It'd be great if you go and download some of his stuff.


This week on The Badass Women's Council, Rebecca talks with Errin Weisman about burnout. Errin is a life coach specializing in burnout with high achievers, making this episode the perfect conversation to continue helping high-achieving women. Today, Errin shares insight into the burnout healthcare workers experience and assists with tips on keeping ourselves from getting to the point of being burnt out. Listen now!