Working in the healthcare industry is stressful. From long hours to the painstaking responsibilities of saving lives and caring for patients, it’s understandable that many medical professionals tend to put their work and their patients’ needs ahead of their own.
It’s time to change that with a self-care routine.
Self-care is the act of taking care of our own physical, mental, and emotional health, and it’s something that everyone in medicine (and every other industry) can benefit from.
Ready to learn what it’s all about?
Here are seven self-care tips for medical professionals to improve your day-to-day life and put you on a path to health and wellness.
1. Learn Stress-Relieving Techniques
Between our responsibilities at work and our duties at home, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed from time to time.
We all feel levels of stress to some degree, and it’s important to learn techniques and coping mechanisms that can help combat those feelings. Learning deep breathing techniques, practicing meditation, and doing yoga are some of the easiest and most effective ways to relieve stress when you feel it creeping in.
If your source of stress is financial, there are things you can do about that too. Protecting your income with disability insurance and protecting your family with life insurance are two ways to relieve the financial stress that could ensue if you were no longer able to provide income for yourself or your loved ones.
Check out this article from Physicians Thrive to learn how disability insurance can help to relieve financial stress.
2. Make Time for Family and Friends
We all need and deserve downtime, and that’s exactly what self-care is all about.
Carve out time during the week and on weekends to spend time with family and friends. The more time you spend with loved ones outside of work, the better it is for your mental health.
3. Eat Healthy
Eating a healthy diet is at the crux of maintaining good physical health.
No matter how busy you are or how stressed you feel, reach for healthy snacks over sweet and salty treats filled with fat. Make time to cook a fresh meal rather than microwaving a processed one or hitting the fast food drive through. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as much as possible.
4. Make Time for Exercise
Exercise goes hand-in-hand with eating healthy. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym every day, but you should carve out at least 30 minutes per day to walk, job, swim, or engage in some form of physical activity.
Exercise gives us energy, and as a medical professional, the more energy you have and the better you feel, the better you’ll be able to care for others.
5. Take Breaks Whenever Possible
Taking a break does not mean you’re shirking your responsibilities or slacking off during the work day. Breaks are essential to our mental health.
Schedule vacation days. Take a lunch break every day to refuel your mind and body with a healthy meal. Take five or ten minute breaks throughout the day to stretch, walk around, and clear your mind.
At home, take a break from household chores to make time for hobbies, practice meditation, or relax in a warm bath. What you do on your break time is up to you, but the more breaks you take, the better.
6. Do Some Self-Reflection
As a medical professional, it’s important to remind yourself that the work you do is valuable. Self-reflect on who you are and what you do. Remind yourself that every day when you go to work, you’re making a difference.
One way to practice self-reflection is through journaling. Another way is to surround yourself with supportive coworkers and talk about your shared experiences to help you realize you are not alone.
7. Improve Your Sleep Habits
Of all the ways to practice self-care, there’s almost nothing more important than getting a good night of sleep.
Sleeping is essential for proper brain health, physical health, and mental health. You can improve your sleep habits by improving your diet and exercise routine. If diet and exercise alone don’t help, consider cutting back on some of your responsibilities at home or at work.
Self-care is critical, and it’s something that everyone needs to make time for, no matter how busy they are or how hectic their work schedules may be. As a medical professional whose job it is to care for others, you’ll be able to do your job even better when you feel your best.