If you already have terrific routines, strategies, and a reality that results in healthy work/life integration (according not to you, but to your loved ones), all of which are health promoting and burnout reducing and will support many more years of working as an otolaryngologist, congratulations! Keep it up.
For everyone else who struggles like I do, my goal is to increase your awareness and commitment to “wellness” and “health.”
Please know that while my suggestions may sound “simple,” the implementation of simple ideas will be extremely difficult after years of ingrained, perpetuated, poorly modeled, unhealthy behavior patterns further reinforced by unrealistic internal and external demands for us as physicians.
Physical activity/exercise: Last summer, I decided to stop whining and blaming my husband for why we don’t play tennis regularly. (Spouses are easy targets for everything that’s not right in our lives due to our deficiencies!) I remember at a Triological Society meeting, Carol Bradford, MD, shared how she prioritized and played tennis every Wednesday. So, one evening, I walked to our community tennis facility with my tennis bag and no plan, and decided to create my future. I met a stranger and played that night. This has led to a year of pretty consistent tennis on weekends. Sweating, more physical activity compared to years past, being outside in the sun for my vitamin D “infusion,” and, most importantly, a sense of accomplishment, have made me more fulfilled. I have created new routine. While my waist and thighs lie about my efforts and make me a candidate to wear “Mom Jeans” as featured on “Saturday Night Live,” I love the demand for laser focus and the opportunity for healthy anger management. Whatever physical activity/form of exercise you love, do it. Do it more. Do it as often as possible.
Get outdoors/more sunlight so that you will sleep better: Yes, I do live in Florida, but wherever you are, go outside for as many minutes as possible every day. Walk outside to another building or meeting, to and from the parking lot to the hospital/clinics. Neither OR light nor fluorescent hospital lighting helps to regulate sleep and won’t give you that nice bronze/tan (healthy glow).
Netflix (Vudu/Amazon Prime/HBO … whatever channel): Binge watching your favorite show that will keep your rear stuck on the couch/sofa/bed, away from the computer screen/iPhone/iPad, in the “DO NOT TALK TO ME NOW” zone you create, is an effective strategic recovery plan.