Physician wellness: Take time to find what works for you

I wholeheartedly support the message behind the project, What Works For Me. As health care professionals, we continually encounter human suffering and work under stressful conditions. As a family physician for the past 14 years, I have been fortunate enough to work in a variety of clinical settings, including several in general family practice.

Currently, I practice family medicine in the sexual health clinic of a community health center. This has allowed me to pursue other interests and avoid on-call conflicts with my husband. As a radiologist, my husband works in a stressful, uncontrollable environment, and I continue to grow increasingly concerned with the risk of burnout that he and our colleagues face. Sharing our stories related to self-care and stress-relieving practices will normalize the importance of finding ways to recharge and unwind.

What has worked for me recently has been to turn a creative goal into a reality.  Over the past few years, I researched, read, and explored the areas of wellness, personal development, and lifestyle medicine. The more I learned, the more passionate I became. I knew I had to think creatively in order to follow my passion. But the question remained, “How can I actualize my passion into a tangible project?”

After many stumbles, wrong paths, and uncountable hours spent navigating the Internet, I took a course on blogging and creative writing. I applied the skills I learned to create a website with a blog on wellness and lifestyle medicine.

It has taken a lot of self-discipline and encouragement from my husband, but so far I have fulfilled my commitment to myself to write a new post every week for the past 16 months.

My next step is to create customized programs and retreats as a consultant, as well as a self-paced workbook. Currently, I am excited about a physician wellness anthology project I just started working on.

Why does this work for me?

Ever since I was a young girl, I have enjoyed writing and the ability to express myself through the patchwork of words. Writing relieved stress, but I often did not take the time to write as an adult. Writing blog posts has allowed me to create a satisfying piece of work every week. The fear of criticism and potential judgment continues to melt away in place of resiliency and confidence.

What is even more profound is the knowledge I have gained about wellness, personal development, and lifestyle medicine. In turn, I have become more aware of what I need to practice in my own life, such as gratitude, meditation, yoga, and more. I have always believed in physical activity and the importance of healthful nutrition, but through researching my weekly topics, I continue to learn about how to manage stress and enhance well-being in my own life.

Another important lesson I continue to learn through my website is that you have to quiet the self-doubt that exists and accept that an element of failure may be essential to personal success and growth. Letting go of my ego has allowed me to follow my passion, keep me energized, and remain connected to the preventive side of medicine.

Physician wellness is a concern for me as it is for our patients, communities, and health care systems. Taking time to focus on what works for you is never selfish nor time wasted, but rather necessary to take care of the most important person: you.

Sara Taylor is a family physician. This article originally appeared in What Works For Me.

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