It can be hard for people in the healthcare profession to strike the proper work-life balance. When you have dedicated your life to help ease the pain of others, taking time for yourself may seem irresponsible or even selfish.
However, work-life balance and self-care are vital not only for you but for the sake of your patients. When you don’t make time for yourself, burnout starts to rear its ugly head, and patient care can suffer as a result. Not only that, but your own physical and mental health can decline when you push yourself too hard, and you may end up becoming a patient yourself.
Achieving work-life balance is the best way to help yourself, your family, and your patients. While it can be a challenge, it is not impossible.
Work-life balance is possible for anyone in the healthcare profession, including doctors. Here are some ideas that can help.
Find Exercise That You Enjoy
As a healthcare professional, you are no doubt familiar with all the physical benefits of regular exercise. You may also be aware of how it can improve mental health, in part by reducing stress. However, when exercise feels like just another chore or daily obligation, it can be difficult to work up much enthusiasm about it. Try to choose an activity that you enjoy so that it is something you can look forward to at the end of the day. For example, if you like to swim, maybe you should start asking yourself “where can I find pool builders near me?” It is much more convenient to be able to cool off at your own pool at the end of a long day than to visit a public aquatic facility.
Another option is to find a way to combine exercise with another activity. For example, you have to commute to work every day, but maybe you could ride a bike instead of driving. Not only would this allow you to get exercise while performing another necessary task, but it also helps the environment by reducing your carbon output.
Get More Sleep
Healthy adults typically need between seven and nine hours of sleep daily to function properly. Unfortunately, statistics show that over half of all health care professionals are receiving far less, sometimes as little as five or six hours per night. You may think that some sleep is better than no sleep, but that isn’t always true. One alarming study showed that if you only get six hours of sleep per night, your impairment is equivalent to staying awake for 24 consecutive hours. It can be difficult to get the required hours of sleep, especially when you have to work rotating shifts. You may have to make modifications to your activities to be sure your body is ready for sleep when it is time. Scented candles are a great way to relax and help you to sleep.
Create Boundaries and Limit Access
With the rise of communication technology, both general examples, such as email, and health-care-specific advances, such as telemedicine, comes an expectation that everyone must be accessible at all times. Unfortunately, this culture of availability can be extremely detrimental to your work-life balance. When you are not on call, prevent yourself from reading and answering work emails. Turn off email notifications on your phone or remove the app altogether. Emails typically aren’t urgent; the clinic or hospital can call you in the event of a real emergency.
Working from home can be more convenient in some ways but can also blur the line between work time and personal time. Set an alarm on your phone for the official end of the workday. When the alarm goes off, the work should be done for the day, and anything unfinished should wait until tomorrow. It can be easier to keep up this discipline if you have a dedicated home office space that you don’t use for anything else. Then, at the end of the day, you can leave the room and close the door until it’s time to come back to work.
Use Vacation Time
If you feel guilty or hesitant about using your vacation time, you are not alone. Over half of all employees in the United States fail to use all their allotted vacation time on a yearly basis, and that includes all professions. There are a lot of health benefits of taking a vacation, so it shouldn’t be skimped.
Nevertheless, taking a vacation allows you to rejuvenate and refresh yourself so that you can avoid burnout and perform better when you return to work.
You don’t have to figure out your work-life balance alone. Reach out to others who may be able to help, such as your supervisor and family members.