Do you ever find yourself running out the door with little done but a brush through your hair, teeth brushed and coffee in hand? Are you like I am after getting home on Sunday mornings from work and fall flat onto your bed to sleep? How do we, as members of the medical profession, find time to keep ourselves healthy? This seems to be an issue that plagues a lot of the medical profession or a student thereof. If we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we expect our patients to take our advice?
With such mottos as “save first, sleep later” and “I can catch up on sleep when I die” it shows that there is a serious lack of a mentality for self-care in healthcare. We are the pillars of health for our patients, so shouldn’t we take our own advice? Yes! As Gandhi is credited as saying, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Stress is a major catalyst to so many ailments within the body that it is the first thing that should be addressed. For some, stress reduction and exercise go hand and hand together; therefore, they can kill two birds with one stone. However, if you are not one of those people, like me, you must find another venue. This is one of the reasons why I started this blog. Whether your stress is relieved by writing, baking, or TV doesn’t matter, find something that works for you. Be sure that whatever you use to reduce stress does not create more stress, like video games for people who have a strong emotional reaction to losing. Try to include another aspect of your life that requires attention if possible. What do you do to reduce stress? Register to comment below with stories and tips for stress reduction!
Focusing on fitness tends to weakness for a lot of people in healthcare. While it makes sense that we get tired after giving everything we have at our work, then come home to our obligations, it is easy to push our physical health to the back burner. Children, large properties, a loved one you are caring for like a nurse at home, there are many obligations that we have at home to contend with. This does not necessarily mean we look at it with a negative attitude, but sometimes it can become overwhelming. Some people love going to the gym and have no problem having the motivation to add exercise to their long to-do list, but for those of us who feel more like taking a nap than to entertain that idea, there are ways to incorporate movement into your daily routine without a gym.
Get those steps in! An easy way to start improving your health is to ensure that you are moving around regularly. Get extra steps in by making rounds down the halls, you are able to keep an eye on your patients and get exercise in one. If you are in home health, sometimes stepping in place is a necessary but workable adaptation to get more movement.
Fidget. That’s right, those who fidget burn around 350 extra calories a day! Other unconventional ways to burn extra calories include laughing, drinking more water, squat instead of bending, chewing gum, pacing while on phone calls, tip-toe, to name a few. Do some research on easy ways to affect the areas of your body you would like to see improvement.
Go Play! Everyone is different as to what sounds like fun. I like to start out my morning by putting on a great upbeat song and dancing my heart out to it prior to getting ready for work. I feel invigorated and it helps me start my day in a great mood. Integrate something in your life that you can do in a few minutes that gets you moving and makes you smile.
Be creative! Whatever makes you smile and will burn some calories is a great addition to your day. Don’t stress about the fact you ate that cookie, enjoy every bite of it. Guilt and shame never made anyone healthier, actually the opposite. Instead find a way to let the things you love be the motivation for you to get moving. I am more likely to exercise when I remember that I can eat more when I do (Foodie alert).
Be proactive for mental health. Trauma is a fact of life for most healthcare workers. If there is anything that is causing post-traumatic stress or negatively impacting your mentality, do something about it. See someone, speak to someone about it. Even if it isn’t professionally, be sure to take steps for your mental health. This affects both professional and personal lives, as well as your physical health.
While there are many things we can do to incorporate self-care, I would like to promote that we, as medical professionals, work together to support taking care of ourselves in and out of the workplace. When in nursing school, my class would group up and go for walks during our breaks. We would encourage each other to take moments to care for ourselves. By the end of our program, we had created a patterned behavior to help ensure that we moved even when we spent all day in class. We would promote eating healthy, but also promote doing things that would make us happier. For example, in our morning coffee, we had whip cream to put on top. This is very few calories and sugar but would always start out the day with a smile. For me, this was a great way to counteract some of the stress. Everyone has a different challenge to overcome regarding movement and other aspects of self-care. Create a plan on what would work for you in your workplace. If you have any strategies or ways to keep self-care consistent, please register and leave a comment below! Let’s get the conversation started…