6 Ways Doctors Practice Self-Care: From Pizza to Volunteering

It’s no secret that doctors are struggling to find ways to deal with the pandemic. While there’s no antidote to those familiar feelings of fatigue, many doctors care about their well-being by striving to do what makes them happy. According to the Medscape Lifestyle & Happiness 2022 report, physicians are adopting a myriad of ways to do this.

It can be difficult to take time for yourself or even to recognize that you need a break. Here, six doctors share the little things that spark joy, invite relaxation, and serve as a reminder that it’s okay to put yourself first.

Homemade pizza making

Rachel Marcus, MD, cardiologist and Chagas disease expert and founder of the Latin American Chagas Society in Baltimore, turns to the art of pizza making to help her maintain her mental well-being. Marcus’ obsession with homemade pizza started a few years ago. Once, she even challenged herself to make a different type of pizza every week for a year.

“I had been making wild yeast sourdough for several years before, and it seemed like a natural extension of that baking. I built a core skill base during that time and started paying more attention to the stars of the artisan pizza scene. .

“There’s so much to learn, and it’s a good distraction from the news of the day, COVID or otherwise. And then there’s the inexplicable joy I get from putting my hands in a well-made dough.”

Move to the gym

Evgeniia Uglova, MD, a psychiatrist at the University of Helsinki in Finland, loves going to the gym.

“My favorite way to promote self-care is exercise. I go to the gym twice a week. Sometimes I schedule time with a personal trainer – it helps keep me motivated. I also like doing laps in the pool, followed by the sauna for a while. It helps me relax, and it’s a kind of mindfulness for me. It helps me sleep better, relieves tension in my body and reduces stress. I spend 8-10 hours sitting at work every day, so I feel good doing some exercises and I feel fresh after working.”

Returning to your roots by volunteering

Justin Fiala, MD, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, digs deeper into his work.

“It seems counterintuitive, but I volunteer at a free clinic to reinvigorate myself.

“The impetus to start volunteering actually started during the very first surge of the pandemic when people of color were disproportionately dying from COVID. The frustration and despair I felt at having to bear witness to the continued suffering and injustice left me appalled and deflated at first. what are you doing in there?

“And so, two Saturdays a month, I run free sleep clinics where I see patients for issues related primarily to insomnia and sleep-disordered breathing. Showing up to the clinic never feels like a chore. I can just focus on treating patients and get to skip the bureaucracy associated with billing and reimbursement for durable medical insurance/equipment.I find myself recharged.In essence, the free clinic has shown me that this is not It’s not the medicine that led to my burnout, it’s the healthcare system. Having this self-awareness to fall back on has been incredibly healing and especially effective when I find myself dealing with thoughts of burnout.”

Meditation and routine workouts

Vikranth Kancharla, MD, a primary care physician and Indian Defense Research and Development Organization physician, likes to mix meditation and a daily workout to help relieve stress.

“As a young doctor, my daily life is not as easy as I thought before medical school. I am stressed daily by my career, my job, my patients and my family. It has not been an easy road. for me to get where i am, so i started practicing meditation and incorporating daily workouts. It had a great effect on my mind and my performance, and i always do my best to be happy, regardless of the stress of reality.

Take care of the people you love

Lakshman Swamy, MD, a pulmonary and critical care physician and instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, specifically addresses each part of his burnout.

“Burnout is characterized by emotional exhaustion, a sense of lack of personal accomplishment, and depersonalization. In my own life, I try to address each of these elements to combat burnout.

“I fight emotional exhaustion by finding ways to fill the tank entirely outside of work. That means taking the extra step to check in with my friends, family, spending more time with my kids, and focusing entirely on them and their world. There are a lot of people who care about you. Put aside your white coat and find ways to spend time with them as a person.

“I combat a sense of lack of personal accomplishment by doing things outside of work that give me an instant sense of accomplishment. Every day I [go for a] running is a day when I won, even if everything else was lost. Baking a loaf of fresh bread or doing any type of physical creation gives me a similar feeling and reminds me that there is more to me than who I am at work.

“For depersonalization, I like to intentionally reflect on the job and my experience with it.

“Investing in your own well-being is not accepting the toxic world you are forced to live and practice in, but it can help you tolerate it better. Try connecting with a therapist and please , seek help if you’re having more serious thoughts of self-harm. More than ever, we need to be careful of each other ― it often feels like no one else is.

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