Creating the ideal life is hard, but it can be especially difficult in medicine, where the pressures and daily stresses are significant.
What simple steps can you take to live your best physician life? Here are some action items to consider:
Follow your values
Most of you pursued medicine to help others, but were there other reasons that inspired you to dedicate a decade of your life to become a doctor?
Take a moment to explore what is important to you. Understanding your values will help you to define your priorities.
Pursue your passions
You are often best at what you care about. Take part in projects that inspire you to be your best self.
If you care deeply about what you are doing, you will very likely be driven to achieve your goals.
Avoid isolation. Focus on others.
Surround yourself with people you admire and respect.
Become part of the culture that you choose, so make sure you choose wisely in this regard.
Make time for journal clubs and conferences, keep up with the literature and your colleagues.
Adjust your mindset
Thoughts create feelings, which then lead to your behaviors.
Learn how to label your thoughts and emotions and separate them from each other.
Do not allow thoughts and emotions to rule you and lead to behaviors against your values.
Imagine that you were involved in a medical error.
Your immediate thought may be, “I am a terrible doctor,” which can lead to overwhelming feelings of anxiety.
Instead of this response, consider the alternative thought, “to make an error is human.”
Instead, the feeling may be one of humility and the reaction can be to do a root cause analysis, so that this error never happens again.
You have the power to reframe your mindsets and to boost your resiliency.
Accept what you can’t change
You cannot change what has already happened.
Instead, you can see reality as it is and work to make positive changes going forward. Imagine a scenario where you were not granted a desired promotion.
You could internally and externally fight that this happened, or you can accept it and grow from the experience.
Notice judgmental thinking
Evaluate the facts rather than the judgments. It is a fact that you did not receive a promotion.
It is not a fact that you were undeserving and unworthy.
Find a way to accomplish this goal, by focusing on the facts, not on the negative chatter that surrounds them.
Find pleasure in life’s small moments
Create a list of activities you find pleasurable and start thinking about how to incorporate them into your everyday life.
For example, if you like aromatherapy, light a candle while taking a shower or when getting ready for bed.
Enhance mundane moments by making them special.
Serve dinner on your family heirloom china. Elevate the everyday moments of your life.
Take a break
Put yourself first and make time for self-care.
As physicians, you are constantly taking care of others, but you need to learn the importance of taking care of yourselves first.
Do not allow feelings of guilt or selfishness cause you not to take notice of your needs.
Pay attention to the present
Focus on your five senses. “Get drawn” to the visual and “get curious” about your cases.
Find what excites you in your job, by focusing on being mindful and present.
Perhaps this means being present with your patients, by truly hearing their story and listening to their concerns.
A significant part of being grateful is showing yourself compassion.
Being a doctor is hard and stressful, but your profession affords so many joys.
When you know yourself and your values, it is much easier to ask what you want assertively.
Negotiate for your best life by spending the time to get to know yourself.
“This too, will pass”
How many times aren’t we reminded of this phrase, especially by our loved ones.
Make a list of coping thoughts that help you be the best version of yourself.
Creating a life you love is closer than you think.