Burnout. It’s a very real thing. How do we combat it? What’s the secret to cultivating vitality? Boosting resilience? New York-based positive psychiatrist, Dr. Samantha Boardman, has the answers. Her specialty lies in transforming full days into more fulfilling days and turning stress into strength. Pretty helpful life skills, might we add. She shares the tools one needs to garner such skills—to make us all better moms, daughters, sisters, friends, wives, not to mention, just better versions of ourselves. And, guess what. It’s okay to feel burnout. It’s okay to feel stress. In fact, stress can be a good thing. It’s all about navigating ourselves towards the right direction. By the way, we’re rarely bias, but we’d be remiss not to admit that this was one of our favorite episode’s and guest’s to date. Dr. Boardman, Samantha, Sam (are we on a nickname basis?) you are extraordinary.
“Positive psychiatry is relatively new in the field. I originally became a psychiatrist because I was so interested in what makes life worth living—those big questions. Pretty quickly you get very good at fixing problems and figuring out what’s wrong with someone to make them feel less bad or bring them back to baseline. I had gotten so good at fixing problems that I wasn’t focused enough on the science of health or well-being. I ended up going back to school to get a degree in positive psychology where we learned about optimism, post-traumatic-growth, and resilience. These were not words I heard in my medical training at all. Instead of looking at pathogenesis which is the study of disease, it was the idea of looking at salutogenesis which is the creation of help. You can do both and they go hand-in-hand. With positive psychiatry, it’s really focusing as much on what’s wrong as much as it is building what’s strong and looking at what people’s strengths are to help them navigate their challenges.”
“Burnout is classically defined as this triad of three things: exhaustion, lack of efficacy, and cynicism. It’s been classical defined in the workplace in occupational contexts. We’re having a much bigger and broader discussion these days about burnout and how it can exist. It’s really differentiating it from what depression is—it’s usually a problem of culture. When people have depression it’s much more internally driven. When you see someone who when you remove them from that context, if on the weekends they feel better and have interest in their activities, that’s when you know it’s really related to their circumstances. Burnout is not a problem in your head, it’s a problem in your circumstances.”
“I think about it in three buckets in your connections you’re making with others because that’s such an important part of our lives. Psychology has been very interiorized. When we’re constantly ruminating in something that can be an onramp to depression, learning how to “self-distance” is really important. It’s this idea of not immersing yourself in your emotions and you think “what would my future self think about this” or “what would I tell a friend in this situation?” That gets the person out of stewing in their emotions and to a place of action and possibility in some way. When I meet patients for the first time I’ll ask what they value most and then I’ll ask how they spent Saturday. When there is a disconnect in what you value and what you’re doing, it’s very hard to build that resilience muscle because you don’t feel like you’re walking your walk.”