“The patient always comes first.” Have you heard these words before? Chances are if you’re a physician, you have. Doctors are constantly reminded to put their patients first. However, this mindset can easily lead to physician burnout. If you find yourself putting work before your personal needs more often than not, it may be time for a priority check. Don’t get me wrong, the patient is important, but self-care for doctors is essential. Read along as we outline some of the best self-care tips for doctors.
Self-Care for Doctors
If you allow it, your medical career can easily take up every ounce of your spare time and put your relationships in jeopardy. The key is to prevent this before it even starts. When it comes to practicing self-care for doctors, there are three major things to consider…
1. Reevaluate your Priorities
The main premise behind self-care is putting oneself first. It sounds simple, but many physicians fail to realize how easily their jobs can take over their whole lives. As a doctor, you must know your limits and don’t be afraid to say “no” every once in a while (when it’s appropriate). If you find yourself becoming distant from your family, it may be time to reevaluate your priorities. Try answering the following questions (truthfully!) to identify where your priorities lie:
- Do I spend enough time with my family?
- Outside of work, what is important to me? What are my passions and hobbies?
- What is the last thing I’ve done for ME?
Your answers to these questions can indicate a lot about what you’re saying is most important in your life. Write down the things that are really important to you, and keep this list somewhere handy. Tape it to your computer screen or your bathroom mirror, or place it somewhere visible in your car.
2. Be Present
When you’re at home, do you often find yourself thinking about work or vice versa? If this sounds like you, it’s probably a good time to start practicing mindfulness and living in the present moment. When you’re at home, concentrate on what is going on at home; don’t think about that difficult patient from a few hours ago. Similarly, when you’re at work, try not to worry about the argument you had with your spouse that morning. Create a clear distinction between your work life and your family life. If you find that this boundary is becoming blurred, consider coming up with a routine to keep yourself in the present moment. Set aside a small window of time during your day to be alone and focus on your surroundings. Think about what is happening presently, and try your best to push your worries and judgments aside for the time being. You could even try meditation!
3. Be Friends with Your Body
One of the best ways to practice self-care as a doctor is to be kind to your body. From healthy eating habits to sleeping habits, it’s extremely important for doctors to treat their bodies properly. Here are some easy, healthy practices that are definitely worth trying:
- Enroll in a yoga, pilates, or exercise class. Your body will thank you!
- Make time for reading or writing in a journal.
- Set aside time to eat a healthy meal at lunch and/or with your family at home.
- Take daily walks outside during your workday. Even if it’s just for ten minutes, walking is a great way to clear your head.
These are just a few great ways to be friends with your body. The options are endless, so find something that works for you. Self-care for doctors is vital when it comes to avoiding physician burnout.
What are some ways that you practice self-care as a physician? Let us know in the comments below!