I have found that self care is one of the first things I give up when I am stressed and overworked. If you are not thinking “bad idea,” you should be!
We must nurture our spirit, mind, and body to remain compassionate and effective healers. Losing that edge doesn’t cause us to give bad care, but it does make us seem insensitive and detached. Of course, this perception will ultimately affect compliance and the robustness of our care.
Today, I want to move beyond the big picture self care items you are thinking about (exercise, healthy eating, etc.) to two simple, quick techniques you can use to improve your day-to-day practice of self care.
Name an item that immediately anchors you to a calm feeling. This can be an object, a photo, a quote, etc. I would encourage you to incorporate this item into your workspace and to create a ritual around it. If you have multiple work areas, perhaps there are multiple anchors you can integrate into those spaces.
As you go through your day, look to this anchor to provide a calming sensation when it is needed. Focus for a few seconds and allow your spirit to be soothed. Let tranquility replace the other feeling(s) you have at that time. This breath of fresh air will help you overcome adversity when you need it most.
The afternoon tends to be the toughest time of the day for me, and incorporating this practice has really helped to refresh my mood and reenergize my spirit.
Pick your favorite beverage and take a few minutes to do nothing but drink that beverage. (I know you are busy, so set a timer if it helps.)
When I say do nothing else, I really mean it. Be mindful of how the beverage feels in your hand. Pay attention to the aroma. Notice how it feels in your mouth.
It will be tempting to multi-task, but don’t. Make self-renewal your only task for these few moments. You’ll be surprised that it only takes a couple of minutes to feel restored.
In the comment section, please share the self care routines that are part of your day. I’d love to hear from you!
Is there something you were once passionate about that now makes you groan whenever it comes up?
Maybe it’s work or maybe a favorite hobby.
At one time, there was something deeply fulfilling about that task, but now it is dull; and quite frankly, its importance has become fragile and weak. It’s certainly not easy to remain enthusiastic, but reconnecting to that passion allows for a more fulfilling, satisfying life.
In my case, that “something” was work. I had wanted to be a physician since I was 6 years old and I am now an obstetrician/gynecologist. I reached my ultimate goal. In time, what started as a passion, actually a life purpose, eventually became a chore.
In fact, I distinctly remember a delivery where I felt bored, disconnected, and like I was completing a mundane task. It took that delivery for me to realize that I needed to make a change and recommit to my passion or I would essentially lose everything that I had worked for.
As I sought to restore my love of medicine, I found three points of wisdom to be central to my recovery.
The first was to believe it was possible for me to love medicine again. If you don’t believe it can be true, then it never will be.
I started by making a conscious choice to enter each day with positivity and happiness. Let me tell you, that was easier said than done. What helped to solidify this perspective of happiness was incorporating a gratitude ritual into my day.
Not everyone gets to share a deeply personal, beautiful moment with others on a regular basis, but I did. Even when I felt the least passionate about medicine, gratitude for my patients, skills, and education remained.
The second thing I did was to reconnect with my values. Values are principles or qualities of life that are worthy and are intrinsic to that person. Values that are not honored lead to internal tension or dissonance which over time, leads to a detachment from our purpose or passion.
There were key values that I was not honoring, which contributed to my unhappiness. Learning is a deeply important value of mine, and at that time I was so busy with work that I wasn’t fulfilling that value. Something as simple as taking a class or developing a skill would have been enough to satisfy this value.
A second value that I was not honoring was my value of fun. I was not consistently creating space for play outside of work. Some would call this work/life balance. I needed time to disconnect and relax.
I know it sounds simple, but silly laughter and childlike wonder rekindles my spirit and allows me to return to the seriousness of medicine. I had to recognize that I must create this for myself when it didn’t appear spontaneously.
Last but not least, I wasn’t honoring my personal needs, and self care is a hugely important value for me. This takes me into the third and final tip that I have for reconnecting to your passion: Take care of yourself. You are just as important as your patients, your children, your family. Give to yourself what you give to them.
Make time for meditation, meal planning, exercise, spirituality, journaling. Keep these at the center of your daily routine. I had to remember that I am important. It was worthwhile to spend time on myself. I couldn’t be a good physician, much less a happy, fulfilled physician if I didn’t put myself first at least part of the time.
Reconnecting with your passion and with joy can be very simple but it takes work. Believe it is possible. Reconnect with your values and remember that YOU are important.
I’d love to hear how you stay connected with your passion! Please comment below.
Most of the people I meet strive to be the best version of themselves each day, but sometimes life gets in the way and we stray from our ideal behaviors, goals, and values. Have you ever felt this way?
I have made two daily practices an integral part of my routine to help me stay on track to be my best self. Those practices are setting a daily intention and incorporating daily gratitude. So, what does that look like?
I start each day by setting my daily intention. An intention is essentially your way of being for that day or your mood for the day. In other words, what space will your thoughts occupy for the day?
Today’s intention was business growth, and I have approached each of my activities from that mindset. It’s helped propel me to write this post and work on my social media pages, and I gave my business card to the dean of my alma mater hoping it will lead to a speaking engagement. Intentions can be quite powerful!
The second habit is gratitude, and it’s how I end my day. Expressing gratitude has been closely linked with increased happiness in multiple studies, and who couldn’t use a little more happiness? You can practice gratitude in several ways, but a popular way is to write in a gratitude journal. Here are a few tips to create an effective one:
Last but not least, share your gratitude with others! We could all use a daily dose of happiness!
If you are looking to establish new habits, contact me for a personal consultation. I’d love to hear from you!
For me it is chaotic, uncontrolled, and disorganized. When I am in this space, nothing moves forward and my goals aren’t accomplished. It’s a miserable place! So, what do you do to stop that feeling?
Find a quiet place and assume a relaxing position. Take in a few cleansing breaths and clear your mind of the chaos that is currently occupying your thoughts.
Visualize how you want your life to look. Transport yourself to this new reality.
Really experience the calm and order that you see. Spend some time here and then take some time to write out all the action steps it will take to get there.
You’ve probably got a pretty sizeable list of action steps, which can quickly lead to feeling overwhelmed and slipping back into that state of chaos. Don’t go there! Instead, the next step is to prioritize.
Look at the action items you have written down and decide which are the most important. Also try to find small steps that you can quickly accomplish. This will provide some much needed motivation.
When you look at your action plan, are there any items you can delegate? That may be one way to make progress without spending your own sweat equity!
Lastly, as you plan each day, pick a few of these items as action steps for that day. I always aim to complete three priority items on my to-do list each day. Anything that gets done above and beyond the three main things is gravy.
There are numerous studies showing that we are more productive if we take breaks. So, I recommend scheduling a mix of both short and longer breaks during your day. I also recommend looking at your weekly plan and finding time for relaxation and fun!
Regaining control of your life is one of the first steps towards achieving work/life balance. Take care to ensure that you are leaving time to connect with friends, family, and yourself.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Just submit a comment below and remember I am always available for a personal consultation.
It happens every year. January 1st comes around and everyone is buzzing about their New Year’s resolutions. Have you decided what your resolutions will be for 2015? Before reading this post, take a moment to jot down your resolution(s).When you’re ready, I’m going to show you why the top resolutions fail and how to make yours better.
A Google search for “top resolutions” reveals very common themes. Talk to your friends and you’ll hear these same ambitions. In fact, you probably also heard them last year because many people have stopped pursuing their goal(s) by February. So, how do you make resolutions attainable? I’ve grouped similar ambitions to show you how.
The first resolution to tackle is the one that sounds like a command. Lose weight. Diet. Eat healthier. Are these admirable goals? Absolutely. So what’s missing? These statements are vague and good goals are specific and measurable. Maybe the resolution should say, “I will lose 10 pounds by April 1st”? Alternatively, “I will eliminate processed food from my diet and I will eat 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.” These are not only commendable but also clearly defined and measurable aspirations.
Many of the top resolutions are vague. They include: volunteer, manage stress, manage debt and save money. How would you fix them?
It is also helpful to note the importance of achieving a resolution. This helps you confirm why you have set the goal and what you will achieve. How motivating is “quit smoking” or “drink less”? The resolution, “I will quit smoking by March 1st to improve my overall health and increase my longevity” is much more compelling and serves as a catalyst for change.
How would you improve the common resolution, “get organized,” so that it confers deeper meaning and persuasion?
“Learn something new” is a popular resolution. I’m sure you have already identified that this goal is vague and the importance to the individual is not conveyed. Another missing piece from this goal is resonance. Develop your plan so that the intent of the action speaks from the heart, showing that the goal strikes a deep chord. For example: “I will learn to meditate so that I can manage stress and remain present and mindful in my daily life.” How’s that for resonance?
How can you make the resolution, “enjoy life/spend more time with family,” more resonant?
Who doesn’t want to go on an adventure? Of course, we all define adventure differently, but we all want new experiences. That’s why “travel to new places” is another top resolution. That statement is boring; spice it up! Where do you want to go? How do you want to get there? What will you do? Who will you go with? When will you go? Include those answers in your resolutions and you are sure to add a zing of excitement to it!
Can you add excitement to each of your resolutions?
“Get a better education” and “get a better job” are the last resolutions we will tackle. Start by asking yourself, is this goal realistic or relevant? If the answer is yes, include that information in the resolution. Will you take classes after hours in order to maintain your current job? If not, what source(s) of income will you put into place to support yourself as a full-time student? Is it realistic to pursue a different job at this time? What impact does the current market or economy have on your goal? Don’t forget to make the goal as specific as possible.
There you have it: five different ways to improve your resolutions so that they become specific, resonant, and exciting ambitions! Now that you have a better list of goals, what actions will you put into place to achieve them? A coach can provide the focus, growth and accountability to reach your goals. Contact me to make 2015 YOUR best year!
My best wishes to you for a fulfilling, successful and balanced year.
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney
As you run around making your list and checking it twice this season, are you ever tempted to purchase something wonderful for yourself? What if I told you I have just the right gift that won’t cost you a dime? Intrigued yet?
This time of year is full of lights, decorations, friends, and festivities. There are a surplus of personal and professional responsibilities and engagements this time of year. Businesses are busy reaching end-of-year goals, and the healthcare environment is not immune to this end-of-year surge in workload. Those in surgical specialties know that their schedule is jam-packed with cases at this time of year. In fact, when I was in private practice, it felt like patients would come in and request surgeries as if they were ordering off a menu. Our primary care colleagues aren’t immune either. They are inundated with the illnesses of the season including flu and RSV. The question always becomes: how do you maintain balance in your life when just about everything is busier than usual? We have all felt this way at some point!
This is where my gift comes in to play. It’s an astoundingly simple mantra that you can carry with you throughout the year. YOU ARE IMPORTANT. Take a moment to realize what that phrase gives you. Being important is empowering. It keeps you at choice. Think about it, if you have the power of choice in your life because you are important, the troubles associated with this busy time of year crumble at your feet. Yes, the Christmas party is important, but you are important enough to choose if it fits into your life right now. Yes, overbooking those patients into your schedule is a blessing to those individuals seeking your help, but you are important enough to choose to take care of yourself as well.
Through trial and a lot of error, I have finally found a unique formula to achieve balance in my life. When I am balanced, I have a sense that I am getting everything that I want and I am also completing the important items on my to-do list. Balance is not static. It is an ebb and flow, giving a little here and cutting back a little there. Each individual has their own equilibrium and we can discover your unique formula through one-on-one coaching. Balance requires choice. It also requires that you revitalize your mind, body and spirit. When I realized that I am important and I can make choices in service of my wellbeing, balance finally became a personal reality.
Working with physicians and healthcare providers through times of imbalance sincerely makes my heart sore and my soul tingle. This healer has found strength and revitalization through coaching and I am so excited to share it with others. My life purpose is to inspire others to work towards fulfillment and balance. So, during the holiday season and throughout the years to come, please accept my gift and always remember, YOU ARE IMPORTANT.
It’s that time of year again. It seems like it gets closer and closer every year, doesn’t it? Everyone is talking about giving thanks, spending time with family, and, of course, the big feast! It’s a wonderful time of year but we often get caught up planning menus, travel, and the holiday festivities that dominate the remainder of the year. In doing so, we forget to stop and give thanks. I’m not talking about rattling off a couple of things you are grateful for at the dinner table, I mean really stop and reflect on all of the blessings in your life. Feel that gratitude deeply.
Why should we limit practicing gratitude to Thanksgiving or for the month of November? Why not give thanks each and every day? Gratitude has long been associated with overall happiness and this correlation has been supported by positive psychology. Not only is gratitude linked to happiness, it also boasts better relationships, better physical health, and better coping skills. For gratitude to have this effect, it must become a new habit.
I challenge you to make gratefulness a daily ritual. You can make it part of your evening routine simply by naming what you are thankful for in that moment, or you can start a gratitude journal. I’ve mentioned a gratitude journal in a previous post, and it really helps me to stop and remember what I am thankful for.
As a physician, you know this time of year is busy, not only personally but also professionally. Consider changing a complaint into something gratifying. Let’s be grateful for the difficult patient for providing a lesson in patience; be thankful for the woman with a complicated medical history for keeping our diagnostic skills in shape. Enjoy the laughter from a shared joke with a colleague or friend. There is so much to be thankful for: a warm cup of tea, beautiful flowers, a kind word, our health.
Here’s a second challenge, and this one can be even more difficult for some individuals. When someone expresses appreciation for you or acknowledges a part of your beautiful being, do not deflect. Soak it in and let it permeate your being. Notice the impact and simply say thank you.
Giving thanks beyond November will enhance and extend the joy of the holidays.
“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” ― Maya Angelou
We don’t know each other yet, but I have a vision of what is possible for you. I know that it is possible to live a fulfilling life; a life of balance, commitment, perspective and choice. I know that it is possible for you to have that life.
When you make choices in sync with your values, the decisions you make are gratifying and fulfilling. How do you define those values? Try this exercise to develop a list of your values.
Think of moments in your life when you were the happiest and most proud. What were you doing? Who was involved? What were the factors that contributed to your happiness or pride? What need was fulfilled at that time? The answers to these questions are your values. Some values that are important to me are trust, joy, service, and learning.
When you make decisions that are in line with your values and continue to incorporate fun in your life, you find balance. Balance isn’t an endpoint, it’s a state of equilibrium, and we must make a conscious effort to maintain it.
Don’t resign to a life out of balance. Know that you will have fulfillment and success. Keep your life’s goals within sight. Let me support you on your journey. Contact me for a complimentary session today.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
I sincerely believe that satisfied, fulfilled physicians provide the best care for their patients. The question is, how do we ensure our happiness and job satisfaction? Here are a few of the habits that I have formed to help me maintain joy when practicing medicine.
There are numerous studies that show we feel better and are more productive if we take more breaks. There are various ways of doing this without sacrificing the number of daily patient visits. Consider scheduling three 30 minute breaks a day instead of a longer lunch. Or starting your day a little earlier to allow for breaks later in the day.
Habits that take only a few minutes a day can be invigorating and healing to the soul. Meditation, journaling and exercise are just a few options. These methods give you the opportunity to transform your thoughts from the negative to the positive. I write in a gratitude journal daily, even if I’m thankful for something small. It helps keep my perspective.
Exercise is another way to take a break from the stressors of daily life. One misconception is that you have to take an hour to exercise, but you can break it up into shorter intervals because it is the cumulative effect that is beneficial.
When we are busy and stressed, we can tend to isolate ourselves away from our support system(s). Stay active with your family, friends and/or your religious institution. Activities away from the office and hospital help to maintain balance and decrease stress.
Stay in the present and savor the moment. When you are away from work, try not to think about patients. It’s not easy, but make a conscious effort to do so.
Likewise, when you are with a patient, give 100% of your attention to that patient. With technologic advances and the need to multitask, we don’t listen well. The physician who listens is a better diagnostician and will always have loyal patients.
You may ask how being mindful decreases stress and improves happiness. Being able to live in the moment and not incorporate the future or the past into our thoughts allows you to fully experience the emotions of that moment. It helps you savor the pleasures in life and keeps you engaged. You form deeper connections to others.
I hope you have found a tip or two that you can incorporate in your own life. Stay connected and send me your comments. Until next time, I wish you much joy!