How a Physician Can Better Care for Their Health
No one else in the world knows more about the importance of health than you as a physician. But knowing something and acting on it are often two different things.
Your job often requires you to sacrifice your own nutritional and behavioral habits to help others. It’s noble, yes. Ultimately, though, it hurts you and those who you want to serve.
When you go too long without taking care of your body and mind, it eventually rebels. You’ll get sick or overtired and end up in long-term burnout.
Instead of dealing with the effects of a crash, take a few minutes a day to prevent this problem by caring for your health. These simple proactive steps don’t require much time and will save you days (or longer) of being down for the count from sickness.
- Take Vitamins
Many of the patients you treat have chronic health conditions that stemmed from a vitamin deficiency. Diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, and strokes often start with a lack of Vitamin D or other essential nutrients.
Other factors contribute to the diseases, of course. Your diet and activity level play a substantial role in your overall health. However, as a doctor, your meals are likely random and not always balanced.
By fueling your body with vitamins and minerals through beverages, capsules, and other methods, you can minimize the damage of this less-than-nutritious lifestyle.
- Focus on Preventative Care
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and you see this every day in your practice. How many patients come to you for problems that could have been avoided with early detection?
Put yourself in those same shoes, and take preventive measures to find and treat health issues before they are too far gone to fix easily. Invest in health insurance that covers wellness exams and annual bloodwork. When you don’t have to pay for it out of your pocket, you’re more likely to get the procedures done regularly.
Women should have annual mammograms and gynecological visits, and men should schedule prostate screenings. Everyone can benefit from dermatology visits for skin cancer checks. Other preventive must-dos include cholesterol level screenings, colonoscopies (after a certain age, depending on your history), and vision and dental exams.
In addition to health insurance that takes care of these procedures, doctors should have a disability policy. You’ve seen firsthand the economic damage that comes with an unexpected time out of work due to illness or injury. Disability insurance limits this impact to your finances.
- Avoid Unhealthy Addictions
The field of medicine is full of high-pressure demands. In your role as a doctor, you’re expected to perform at peak capacity, even when you’re going on day two or three of little-to-no sleep and skipped-meal-number-six.
It’s not surprising that, with intensive demands and a less-than-healthy lifestyle, many doctors turn to unhealthy methods to stay awake. The addictive caffeine cycle is one way. However, it’s not uncommon to see doctors engage in using the very things they caution patients against: tobacco, stimulants, and prescription drugs.
If you must use caffeine or stimulants to stay awake, try to stick to natural sources, like B12 injections, fruit juice, and vitamin-infused energy drinks. Stay away from caffeinated sodas, sugar-filled coffee, and illegal substances. It’s tempting to use your connections to get access to prescription drugs that give you an energy boost, but it’s also illegal.
- Get Exercise
Your day is hectic, and you’re running from room to room and patient to patient. While this may be tiring, it’s not the aerobic exercise you need to stay in shape.
It’s understandable that the last thing you want to do is to be on your feet more. Still, getting a little aerobic exercise, especially when it’s combined with fresh air, could be just (pardon the pun) what the doctor ordered.
Try to squeeze in 15-30 minutes a few days a week to take a brisk walk around your neighborhood or through a nearby hiking trail. If you prefer the gym environment, use the fitness center in your healthcare facility or join one nearby and go before your shift starts.
Make this a no-excuses part of your routine. If you’re like most people, you’ll have to force yourself to go for the first few weeks. Soon, it will become something you enjoy. You’ll notice the difference in how you feel and how much energy you have, and you won’t want to miss a workout.
Taking care of your health is, by extension, a way to engage in better treatment of your patients. When you’re in shape, you’re a role model to those you advise and care for. All four of these tips take an average of less than 30 minutes a day, but their effects can last a lifetime.