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A Guide to Self-Care for Doctors

For doctors, their whole working lives are spent looking after other people. At its core, a career in healthcare requires a selfless attitude. However, sometimes this can become detrimental as care providers forget to provide that same high level of care to themselves. Everyday doctors encourage their patients to lead happier, healthier and more stress-free lives, but often it is the carers that are failing to live up to the same advice. So how can doctors ensure they are taking care of themselves as well?

Self-care is essential for all professionals in the healthcare industry, and setting up a plan that you can stick to on a regular basis will help to ensure you are taking care of yourself as well as your patients.

There are two things to consider when it comes to self-care: physical and mental health. It is important to note that both of these things are just as important as the other and will require steps to ensure both on a regular basis.

Physical Health

We often tell patients to eat a balanced diet, get moderate exercise and get those 8 hours of sleep a night, but often we are forgetting these things when it comes to our own bodies. The frantic job of being a doctor usually means we are time poor and on-the-go for most of the week. When this is the case, it is all too easy to forget that workout regime and resort to fast and easy foods that offer little nutritious value.

While some will fit in a run, jog or swim where possible, it may be better to sign up to a gym or health club. This will keep you accountable and will give you some structure that you need to ensure you are doing what is necessary to look after you.

Emotional Health

Work-related stress has the ability to affect professionals in any industry, however the particularly demanding efforts required by doctors could mean stress is even more likely. More than occasional stress, medical professionals are also at risk of depression, anxiety and other psychological conditions. It is so important, then, to ensure you are taking care of your emotional wellbeing just as much as your physical health.

As well as being overworked, many doctors also overlook their own symptoms. There are a few reasons for this: being self-employed, absence of people available that can take over, not wanting to increase someone else’s workload, dedication to patients, embarrassment and an expectation for a doctor to appear perfectly healthy for patients.

In order to ensure emotional wellbeing, it is important to take steps to reduce being overworked. It can be a challenge for those who care for others to accept their own vulnerability, however taking time out – whether you are unwell or emotionally exhausted – is an important part of remaining happy and healthy. Try and achieve that work/life balance whenever possible, always take a lunch break, take a walk during lunch time, schedule some relaxation time during the day – even if it’s doing quick meditations between patients.

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