Give and Take
5 strategies for setting limits and redefining success
Finding a creative outlet, spending time with loved ones and making time for yourself can actually make you a better doctor.
It’s not unusual for a physician’s work to take up a majority of waking life (5-7 days per week, 8-12+ hours per day). This grueling schedule makes it difficult to unplug from work. Here are strategies to help find that difficult balance of work and life.
- Redefine “balance.” Instead of balance, which puts work and life in competition with one another, think of your goal as work-life integration. As a doctor, work will likely be a major aspect of your life. Try to learn to work around it, or make work and life work together. Talk to your employer about flexible working arrangements, or compressing weeks to allow for longer periods of time away from work.
- Set limits. Ensure that you put a limit on work, when possible. While there are times that it is necessary to be on call or reachable, try to reserve time to “turn off” from work or studying. This could be anything from a couple of designated hours a day or a specific day of the week.
- Give yourself a break. Realizing when you need a break by identifying common triggers. For many, being easily angered or consumed with stress is a signal that you could use time away. Ask yourself why you are acting differently, and try to implement positive coping skills, such as self-though, yoga, or anything that reduces your stress in a healthy way.
- Talk to your family. Your spouse and children have responsibilities outside of medicine, which can make balancing family activities and priorities difficult. Talk to your family, especially spouses, about the difficulties that you are facing. This will help alleviate some of the stress when things become rough. With children, communicate early that you will miss some important events and schedule time for family activities to help keep everyone happy.
- Be more social. Social media, that is. Physicians must be mindful of the type of information they make public on social networks. It’s visible to patients and employers alike. However, when used carefully, social media can be a great way to maintain contact with friends and family. It’s a platform to express views you feel are a part of who you are and how you practice. And, it can be a resource to help you connect with peers who are experiencing similar professional challenges.