Whether you’re working a permanent physician job or as a locum doctor, there’s no argument having a medical career is demanding. The hours are long, gruelling and excellence is expected at all times. This combined with the unpredictability of personal life can lead to physician burnout.
Having a busy career as a medical physician is taxing in terms of physical and mental health. When so much is riding on your well-being, it becomes all the more important to take care of yourself.
Being in the medical profession, you must be familiar that self-care is no easy feat. There is not a set formula you can put into motion and voila, your physical and mental health is restored. It has to be actively practised regularly.
If juggling work and personal life have been straining for your mental and physical health, here are a few ways to reinstate life balance:
Look after your physical health
As a medical professional, you already know the importance of eating well and exercising. A lot relies on your physical health in terms of your personal and professional life.
If you’re trying to achieve a better lifestyle, it all comes down to choices. Can you pass on the extra shift you were offered? Can you skip your friend’s birthday dinner? You have to prioritise getting enough sleep, eating balanced meals, and incorporating workouts. It can be difficult, but it’s possible.
Manage your mind
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Being a physician, you cannot afford to make mistakes. And if you’re not in the right frame of mind, it gives leeway to errors.
Whenever you get some time to yourself, whether that’s during lunch or in between patients, try to practise mindfulness. It will help ground your mind, clear your thoughts, and improve concentration.
Even when you’re at home, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do something. Sometimes, it’s perfectly OK to stay home and relax with a book.
Besides good diet and mindfulness, you should take breaks whenever you can. Even a five-minute break resets and refreshes your mind and body. Avoid continuously working for several hours. Pushing your mind and body to extremes will make you inefficient and prone to inaccuracies. You can simply go around the block for a short walk or catch up with a co-worker.
Micromanaging every single thing is just a way of adding stress that you don’t need. Learn how to delegate inconsequential tasks to administrative staff and medical assistants.
As a locum, it can be difficult to keep track of jobs and shifts. To make it easier for yourself you can sign up on My Locum Manager, which is a management software. Right from scheduling to expense management, it does everything for you.
Find a hobby
It might seem ridiculous, but you can’t make your entire life revolve around your job. Find a hobby to create some boundaries. Instead of obsessing over your job in your free time – practise an instrument, join a sports league, or play video games; whatever floats your boat.
Get a planner
With an incredibly busy life, it’s difficult to track what exactly you’re spending your time on. An easy solution for this? Get a planner. Writing down your tasks and activities every day will help you visualise how you’re spending your days. This will allow you to implement work-life balance, instead of burning the candle at both ends.
Working hard and being passionate about your job are excellent qualities, but not when it comes at the price of your own well-being.
Helen Bradfield did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.
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