“What I was taught in medical school a long time ago was to have an emotional shield,” says Trzeciak. “Don’t care too much. Too much compassion will burn you out.” However, research shows the exact opposite: “Caring and the relationships that flow from that can be an antidote to burnout,” he explains. (In fact, that’s the very subject of his previous book, Compassionomics.)
Take this 2021 study, for example, which shows that nurses with high scores for compassion for others experience less burnout. Trzeciak even tested the compassion hypothesis for himself, deciding to lean into his own relationships—with patients, with their families, with the ICU staff, and with his loved ones at home. “I decided to care more, not less. Lean in, rather than pull back, detach, and escape,” he recounts. “And that was when the fog of burnout began to lift.”
Essentially, strong social bonds are integral for your resilience to stress, “and that is supported by abundant scientific evidence,” says Trzeciak.