How to Incorporate Healthy Behaviors in Your Busy Schedule – For Doctors

How to Incorporate Healthy Behaviors in Your Busy Schedule – For Doctors

Doctors are constantly bouncing around from patient to patient, and having a busy schedule can cause problems in your personal life. Making time to eat right, visit the gym, and have your own preventive care appointments can be surprisingly challenging.  

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Physician burnout is a prevalent issue and can affect everyone from pediatricians to ER doctors. Maintaining an appropriate work-life balance requires some creativity and careful planning, especially if you have children. 

Make Plans with a Friend

Going to the gym or even going for a jog can seem like a hassle, and it’s easy to cancel these plans when you’re going alone. Committing to take a yoga class or run around a park with a friend is the best way to make sure the plans stick.

Of course, other doctors tend to be just as busy, and finding a running buddy with a similar schedule can be tricky. Organizing a large group of friends may require more effort than it’s worth. Grab a colleague with the same shift schedule as you, if possible, or make friends with a neighbor who you can jog with on days off.

Shorter Workouts

Most aerobic and yoga classes are at least 45 minutes long, making them difficult to fit in at the beginning or end of a day. Research shows that short workouts can be just as effective as longer ones if they are appropriately spaced.

Short workouts can still have benefits like improved sleep and mood, so they’re an excellent choice for people who are already in shape but want the health benefits. To make shorter workouts even more time-efficient, consider investing in a stationary bicycle to use at home.

Meal Prep

Even if there are healthy lunch options near your workplace, they can drain time and money fast. Unless the hospital cafeteria or cafe near you is really fast, you may actually save time and money by preparing your lunches and dinners at the beginning of the week.

Meal prepping doesn’t have to result in repetitive lunches. Even changing up which sauces and toppings you use on each day can add some nice variety. You can be even more efficient by teaming up with your spouse or roommate to share prep duties.

Adjust Your Schedule

Eating an earlier dinner can free up more time in the evening for relaxing before bed and waking up a little earlier can make time for a morning workout. While the best way to adjust your schedule will vary from person to person, start by taking a hard look at your schedule each day and finding the wasted time.

Of course, this schedule adjustment shouldn’t involve cutting sleep! If you decide to get up 20 minutes earlier, make sure to go to bed 20 minutes earlier.

Also, start setting rules about time spent on social media. Spending less time on social media can free up significant time for other things. Consider deleting social media smartphone apps entirely, and accessing them only when at a computer, to make it harder to waste time on them. 

Drink Tea

While coffee can have its benefits, tea can help give you a gentler boost of caffeine. Green tea has up to 85% less caffeine than coffee. Black tea’s caffeine content can vary widely, but it can have up to 75% less caffeine. While you won’t want to drink either one to unwind before bed, they’re a good option for a mid-afternoon energy boost that won’t leave you hurting before bedtime.

Chamomile tea is caffeine-free and can help you relax when you need it most. Fruit teas can have hidden sugars, especially if they’re iced tea sold in bottles, but they’re usually still a better option than soda.

Don’t Over-Commit

Volunteering, date nights, family events, and everything else in life can add up quickly. It can be especially draining if you have many local friends who you’re trying to keep in touch with, or professional networking events to attend on a regular basis.

Remember that you can’t be everything for everyone. While friends and professional contacts are important, it’s reasonable to have to tell them “no” sometimes. Even family members may not understand the busy schedule of a doctor.

If your schedule is so full that you’re missing out on sleep or your own preventive care appointments, then it’s only a matter of time before your quality of life actually diminishes. 

This can get even more hectic if you’re a parent. Once kids reach late elementary school, the barrage of concerts, sports games, and school events can seem endless. Remember that it’s crucial for children to have some unstructured time to relax and work on homework. It’s okay to ask your kids to choose between certain extra-curricular activities, especially if they also have busy social lives.

The Long-Term Big Picture

Making healthy changes isn’t an easy process, especially if you work night shifts or have a long commute. New habits tend to fall apart after a few weeks, at most. Getting multiple new habits to stick is even more difficult.

Take pride in the small victories, such as starting a new self-care habit or ending a burdensome commitment. Remember that your long-term health is a journey and that your busy career must be dealt with one day at a time. As long as you keep taking steps to make time for your health, you will eventually see and feel the effects.

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