Spark Joy in Healthcare with Dr. Jessica Louie, PharmD - Dr. Nikoleta
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Spark Joy in Healthcare with Dr. Jessica Louie, PharmD

Are you experiencing burnout in your current career? Do you struggle with feeling like your life is full of clutter, and it’s bogging you down? Are you no longer experiencing joy in your everyday life?

Trust me — we’ve all been there. I love my job as a healthcare professional, but even though it’s my dream career, I still experience burnout from time to time. In moments like these, it’s essential that we recenter ourselves on our purpose and let go of the things or people who are dragging us down. 

A cluttered life is not a happy one, and it’s certainly not one I want for you all! If you’re feeling burned out, discouraged, or overwhelmed and want to find joy in your career again, then this episode is for you.

My guest today is the perfect person to walk us through what burnout looks like and how we can best avoid it. Dr. Jessica Louie is a pharmacist and burnout coach, and in this interview, she talks about her journey from burnout in graduate training to helping others get out of chaos and live with less clutter and more energy. 

This interview is full of so many great tips, and whether you’re a healthcare professional or not, there’s something here for everyone!

Who Is Dr. Jessica Louie?

Dr. Jessica Louie is the founder of Clarify Simplify Align and The Burnout Doctor Podcast, where she helps burned-out pharmacists and healthcare professionals simplify their lives by letting go of clutter and finding joy in their careers.

Dr. Jessica is certified in the KonMari Method to help declutter your life and practices as an Associate Professor and Critical Care Pharmacist by day. She recently started the Spark Joy in Healthcare Community movement to give back to those on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic and restore joy to those workers.

As a former shopaholic and workaholic, Dr. Jessica struggled with burnout back in 2014 and 2015. Instead of thriving, she was surviving. It came to the point where she had to make a choice: Do I live life in clutter, or do I let go of the things that aren’t serving me to live a joyful life?

She chose the latter, and now, Dr. Jessica is helping thousands of health care professionals, pharmacists, and amazing women work through their burnout, rediscover their confidence, and contribute authentically to all areas of their lives!

This is an interview you’re not going to want to miss. I know that I personally learned so much, and I can’t wait to share it with you all today. Let’s get started! 

First, What Exactly Is Burnout?

The first time Dr. Jessica began experiencing burnout was in her second year of residency back in 2014 and 2015. She had just moved to Los Angeles after practicing in Utah, and she was dissatisfied that her team wasn’t practicing at the top of their license in L.A. 

At first, Dr. Jessica had no idea she was experiencing burnout. All she knew was that her energy levels were low, and she was coping in negative ways. After months of struggling with burnout, she came to the realization of what it truly was:

“Burnout … has three components where you’re exhausted, you have some cynicism or negative viewpoint, and then you have some decreased self-efficacy or a low sense of accomplishment.” – Dr. Jessica Louie

She explained how usually we equate burnout with physical exhaustion, but really, it’s a lot more than that. Burnout involves physical, emotional, and mental fatigue, and this happens when we’re bringing work home with us or our work is misaligned with our values. When we’re exhausted in all these capacities, we begin to doubt our self-worth, and we easily become negative about life. And when this becomes a cycle, we experience burnout at its fullest.

“I would say that burnout is a result of prolonged chronic stress. So they’re not exactly the same. You wouldn’t interchange the words necessarily, but usually you are stressed for a period of time, and biochemical, physiological types of changes that happen. And then that prolonged exposure to stress turns into burnout.” – Dr. Jessica Louie

Dr. Jessica brings up an important clarification between stress and burnout. Stress usually happens over a short period and shifts our bodies in hyperdrive. After we find a solution to our stress, it usually dissolves. But when it doesn’t — when it continues in a cycle — it leads to burnout.

This is why it’s so important to address stress before it leads to burnout. If you feel constantly stressed, dissatisfied with your work, and purposeless, there’s a good chance you’re heading towards burnout. The question becomes, how do we deal with it? How do we get back to a place of joy? It all comes down to letting go of clutter.

The Importance of Releasing Clutter 

After experiencing burnout herself, Dr. Jessica made it her mission to provide a solution to all the other healthcare professionals, pharmacists, and women experiencing the same problem. She found that a huge factor contributing to her burnout was clutter, and so she began working through the process of letting go of everything she didn’t need so she could thrive.

Over the past five years, Dr. Jessica has created her own coaching program, where she trains others in the KonMari method to let go of clutter and find balance in their lives. 

“I attribute a lot of how I help my burnout through decluttering, and I was fortunate find Marie Kondo. She wrote a few books back in 2013 2014 on the life-changing magic of tidying up. … So basically, it’s a five-step process. You commit beginning to end to it so that you never tidy up again in your life like that. It really changes your habits and your mindset around physical items. … And then I apply the same concepts to decluttering my schedule, digital clutter, finances, community, relationships, things like that.” – Dr. Jessica Louie

You may have heard of Marie Kondo from her hit Netflix series Tidying Up, but Dr. Jessica recommends reading Kondo’s books to get all the details of the KonMari method. To sum it up, you start by letting go of the physical clutter that no longer gives you joy — things like old clothes, unused supplies, and miscellaneous junk. After you do that, you move onto emotional, mental, and spiritual clutter.

“Physical clutter is a great way to start in my opinion because you see the tangible benefits right away, and then mental clutter, for a lot of us, is our ability to process information … from our phones to our emails — all that can get cluttered our schedules. … And then spiritual clutter is really about our energy levels being present. So I think of that as mindfulness because a lot of the times we’re not actually present when we’re sitting here. … So just that energy on being present and being mindful of that current situation.” – Dr. Jessica Louie

Do you need to declutter? I think it’s so important to remember that decluttering doesn’t just mean getting rid of physical stuff. Are you holding onto any toxic relationships in your life that are dragging you down? Do you need to clean up your computer so you can have more mental clarity during work? Are you being present with your family? 

Once you get clear on that, you are so much more equipped to deal with burnout. You can begin putting systems in place to prevent clutter from creeping back into your life. Unsure of where to start? Thankfully, Dr. Jessica has some great tips.

Dr. Jessica Louie quote about next steps
Close your eyes, take some deep breaths and think about how can you bring your best self to the next activity.

How to Create Boundaries to Receive More Joy in Your Life

The best thing you can do for yourself to live a non-cluttered life is create boundaries, and this is something that Dr. Jessica practices every day after work. She’s an ICU pharmacist, but after she’s off the clock, she doesn’t open any work emails.

“If someone needs to get a hold of me, we’d be personal enough that they could call me. So setting up boundaries, even in healthcare, I think are really important to reduce a lot of that mental clutter of how you are reachable throughout the day.” – Dr. Jessica Louie 

Separating your work life from your personal life is especially hard for healthcare professionals. But if we can’t take care of ourselves, how are we supposed to take care of our patients? Don’t get me wrong — work is important, but as Dr. Jessica says, it can’t overtake your whole life.

I’ve been trying to practice this in my own life, too! In August of 2019, I had a baby and received a very short maternity leave of just five weeks. But during that leave, I made very strict boundaries to ensure I would be as filled up and present as possible. I didn’t open any work emails, look at patient tasks, or anything like that. This was a sacred time with my newborn baby, and my work wasn’t a part of it.

Another great way to create boundaries in your life is by mapping out a clear schedule. I like to color-code my schedule and use different colors for different parts of my life, like dermatology, exercise, and family time. If you’re a visual person, this really helps to see how your time is allotted and if you need to make any changes.

The same practice goes for relational boundaries! If you have people in your circle that are constantly negative, their negativity will spread and bring you down over time. In these cases, it’s essential to surround yourself with people who lift you up and give you joy, rather than give you emotional clutter. This is something I’ve had to do in my own life, and while it’s hard, it’s so worth it!

Here’s the bottom line: If you decide to get rid of clutter, you have to commit to it. Set up boundaries to keep it consistent, and you’ll be amazed at the amount of joy you’ll bring into your life!

Spark Joy and Gratitude with Dr. Jessica Louie

I want to take a moment to acknowledge Dr. Jessica for all the good advice and wisdom she’s putting out into the world! I was blessed to have her on the podcast, and I hope you all enjoyed this interview as much as I did!

To close it out, I asked Dr. Jessica if she had one last piece of wisdom to share, and this was her answer:

“Remember to bring joy into each day in any way possible, that’s something small. And remember to write out a note of gratitude for a team member or a friend today.” – Dr. Jessica Louie

What an amazing charge. We bring so much joy into the world by blessing other people, even if it’s something small.

If you want to hear more from Dr. Jessica, I highly suggest checking out her podcast, The Burnout Doctor, to learn more about decluttering your life to find joy and happiness. You can also get involved in her Spark Joy Healthcare in Community and help bring back joy into the medical field! To get connected with Dr. Jessica professionally, you can contact her on LinkedIn.

If this interview inspired you to defeat burnout and step into confidence, please take a screenshot of the episode and tag Dr. Jessica Louie, @drjessicalouie, and me, @drnikoleta, on Instagram! We’d love to hear how you’re decluttering and setting boundaries in your own life! If you enjoy the Millennial Doc podcast, it would also mean so much to me if you could give it a five-star rating on Apple Podcasts so we can spread the word!

I’m so grateful for all of you. As always, Step Out with Confidence® and go rock your life!

I'M DR. NIKOLETA BRANKOV!

I am a board-certified dermatologist, CEO and Founder of Healthy Skin Blueprint, an acclaimed podcast host, best-selling author, and nationally recognized skin, hair, and nails expert. Welcome to the Skin Talk with Dr. Nikoleta blog.

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