11 Wellness Tips You Can Action Right Now

Carefully crafted tips by our in-house Wellness expert, Dian Ginsberg

11 Wellness Tips You Can Action Right Now

Physicians are often seen as healers. You're looked up to as role models for health — not only physically, but mentally as well. But what happens when long hours, systemic industry issues, and toxic work environments overwhelm even the most accomplished leaders? 

Burnout and overwhelm can affect everyone, which is why it is imperative to make sure physicians have access to wellness resources, regardless of setting. These 11 actionable tips were crafted by our in-house expert, Dian Ginsberg, as a result of years of working to support physician wellness.

1. Focus On Yourself

1. Focus on Yourself

In order to become a compassionate healer, physicians must focus on their own wellbeing. Doing so requires a commitment to self-honesty and willingness to be vulnerable in order to secure much-needed support. Wellness is not a journey that can or should be taken in isolation. 

 2. Consider Conducting a Needs Assessment

2. Consider Conducting a Needs Assessment

Workplace wellness goes beyond checking a box.; it requires the commitment of financial and human resources accompanied by a sincere desire to facilitate organization cultural change. When creating a workplace wellness program, it is important to think beyond meditation and mindfulness practices. Consider additional challenges that contribute to the lack of wellness such as workload, control, reward, community, fairness and values. These are important considerations when building an effective and sustainable organizational wellness program. Consider conducting a formal or informal needs assessment to identify the most urgent need(s) and begin there. It is also important to have a clear understanding of the resources your organization is willing to allocate to your program to ensure the proper application of those resources. 

3. Work on What Keeps You Up at Night

3. Work on What Keeps You Up at Night

To make a positive contribution to your workplace culture, it’s important to become clear on the worries that keep you awake at night. Doing so requires self-reflection, courage, and honesty. If this is particularly difficult for you, consider consulting a life or wellness coach who can provide an objective perspective and support an action plan designed to address your specific concerns and hold you accountable. 

 4. You Are Not Alone

4. You Are Not Alone

You’re not alone! Time and time again, I hear physicians speak of feelings of isolation and loneliness. When facing the darkest times, feelings of hopelessness and embarrassment often drive feelings of self-harm. If I could reach out to those individuals experiencing these feelings, I would say the most important thing you need to know is that you don’t have to suffer in silence or alone. I encourage you to reach out for help and give yourself permission to be vulnerable. Most importantly, give your loved ones the opportunity and the privilege of offering their support. If this is not a feasible option for you, reach out to a colleague or your organization’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Help is only one call away.
 5. Don't Let Others Diminish Your Accomplishments

5. Don't Let Others Diminish Your Accomplishments

Diversity & Wellness

It is no secret that medicine is a field that has historically been dominated by white males. However, recent data indicates a steady increase of women and people of various ethnic backgrounds entering medical school and residency programs. Yet, healthcare in general has been slow to recognize the new face of medicine leaving female and physicians of color feeling marginalized and coping with intrinsic bias from patients and colleagues. Having a solid sense of self will help you through these difficult experiences. It is important to recognize the work, effort, and accomplishment of becoming a physician. Remember, no one has the power to make you feel marginalized without your permission. It is also important to acknowledge that diversity and inclusion goes far beyond gender, race, and sexual orientation – it also includes the richness that comes from diversity of thought.   

 6. Empower Yourself; Take Risks and Reject Fear

6. Empower Yourself; Take Risks and Reject Fear

Women's Wellness

Even though society has evolved in terms of traditional gender roles, women physicians still struggle to cope with intrinsic bias and imposter syndrome. While their male counterparts have no trouble applying for roles and positions that exceed their current skillset, female physicians tend to err on the side of caution out of fear of rejection. Learning to take risks and reject fear is an important part of wellness for the female physician. Take small steps to demonstrate courage. It need not be as frightening as conquering a lifelong fear, but it might be a small as exercising your ability to say “no” to that task that doesn’t serve you well or enhance the quality of your life. Learn to say “no” without the need to explain yourself or justify your response. 

 7. Open Your Heart to Life's Experiences

7. Open Your Heart to Life's Experiences

Can you imagine going through life where all food tastes the same and everything was gray? There is no distinction between sweet and sour, red versus blue, and no feelings of joyous moments or deep sadness. Imagine what a long and boring existence that would be. Opening yourself to the practice of mindfulness means living purposefully and opening your heart and soul to life’s experiences. Only by doing so can you truly experience all life has to offer. The practice on mindfulness can start small. I hope you will do this simple exercise with me. For the next 60 seconds, I want you to do the following:

  1.  Step outside
  2.  Close your eyes
  3.  Take 5 deep breaths
  4.  Focus on the smell of the air, the sun on your face, the sounds that surround you, the voices or silence of the moment

For 60 seconds, be totally present in the moment. Now open your eyes and think about how special that 60-second experience was. If you conduct this exercise each day starting with 60 seconds, you can grow in your mindfulness practice and you will find yourself becoming increasingly aware and appreciative of life’s smallest gifts. Mindfulness starts with the simple decision to live with purpose, gratitude, and intention.

 8. Embrace Change

8. Embrace Change

An important part of mindfulness is embracing life’s ambiguities and unexpected changes, but this is often easier said than done. While many people fear change, the reality is that change is imminent whether you’re ready or not. So, why not learn to embrace life’s uncertainty by reaching just beyond your comfort zone? The next time you are tempted to decline an invitation or the opportunity to try something new, resist that urge and simply say “yes.” Then, instead of focusing on all that could go wrong, change your focus to all the possibilities that could come with a simple “yes.” 

 9. The Power of Deep Breathing

9. The Power of Deep Breathing

Given the vast amount of information, expectations, and commitments we experience at any given moment, deep breathing exercises can be a lifesaver. The beauty of a deep-breathing exercise is that it doesn’t require anything special or expensive. The most important supplies you will need is your nose, your mouth, and air which is all completely free! When feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, practice this simple deep-breathing exercise:

  1.  Find a comfortable, quiet seat and a seating position that feels most natural for you. Place both hands on your lap with your palms facing up. Close your eyes.
  2.  Inhale #1: Take a deep breath in while counting to three. While inhaling – think about the gift of air and breathe in while focusing on all the organs in your body that must take action while taking in a breath.
  3.  Exhale #1: Exhale while counting to three. While exhaling, focus on letting go of the things causing stress that are beyond your control.

Repeat these steps two more times. Open your eyes. Hopefully you feel refreshed and grateful for the simple act of breathing. Repeat as many times as needed.

 10. Focus on the things that matter

10. Focus on the things that matter

I recently ran across a quote that really resonated with me. The quote said: “life will give you what you’re willing to fight for.” I decided to add to this quote: “it’s important to become clear on what you’re willing to fight for.” By this I mean, many people go through life giving as much energy and attention to the things that really don’t matter as they give to the things that do matter. They struggle with guilt over things that really have no long-term significance. Give yourself permission to quickly move on from the non-essentials so you can use your energy, time, and focus on the things that do matter. This may require you to keep a journal of things that are important to you at any given time with the understanding that your list will be fluid. Over time, it will become easy to differentiate between the non-essentials and essentials. 

 11. Give Yourself the Compassion You Give Your Loved Ones

11. Give Yourself the Compassion You Give Your Loved Ones

This may be the simplest tip of all: make a commitment to exhibit the same degree of compassion for yourself as you give to those you love and cherish the most. You wouldn’t send you child to school without breakfast and a hug, so don’t start your day without nourishment and a kind self-affirmation. Whatever you are willing to give to someone else, whether it’s the gift of time, compassion, advice, self-care, give yourself this gift first. The best way to demonstrate care for others is to care for yourself so you will have the sense of wellbeing to care for others.  

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