The world is impacted by coronavirus. The same advancements in civilization that allow us to travel and experience new cultures are the very thing that has blurred our borders and made everyone susceptible to the virus. We are observers and participants at the same time.
Schools are closed and shifting to long-distance learning models. Conferences are canceled. Sporting events are shutting the stadiums to fans. We are social beings now being asked to avoid large gatherings and maintain distance from one another for our safety.
What do we make of all this? How do we process it?
And as physicians, how do we remain calm taking care of patients who bring us their symptoms and their fears? Fears that we have as well.
1. Know your information threshold. In this instant-access world, we are inundated with more than enough information. Updates are available constantly. Some people spend hours online, and it doesn’t impact their mood. They process the information and move on with their day. Other people consume information in smaller bite-size pieces and then have had enough. Being aware of your limit is essential to supporting your well-being.
I wanted to get the latest about coronavirus in my area, so I spent some time on the computer reading articles and watching news clips. I began to notice my energy shifting. Instead of gathering information, I felt overwhelmed and worried. I started imagining the worst-case scenario. That was my signal to turn off the computer, leave the office, and change my environment.
This is the same advice I share with parents with a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit.
The internet is a resource of information. Use it wisely by understanding how much information is just the right amount and how much is too much information for you.
2. Develop daily practices. When life is busy, we move from one activity to the next, one patient to the next, and from work life to home life with little thought to the moments of transition that we can use to enhance our well-being.
Even a few seconds in gratitude or silence or humming a tune can shift your energy at the moment. Create a list of things that bring you joy and keep them readily available to focus on when you need a boost. It could be the picture of a loved one, a pet, or your favorite activity. What makes you smile just thinking about it?
3. Stage for your day. You usually know your schedule from the day before. Rather than stress over all that you have to do tomorrow, look for the tiny openings where you can practice self-care. On the commute to work, swap out listening to the news, and play your favorite CD instead. Enjoy yourself.
If you have an administrative meeting and status updates are on the agenda that will stir up your emotions, build in a ‘time out’ after the meeting. Instead of going to lunch with the team where you’ll rehash the meeting, schedule 10 minutes for yourself. Make this time count. Rather than returning texts or checking the latest news story, use the time to take a walk, meditate, or read something inspirational and reconnect to your inner self.
This is a challenging time in medicine. The key to ease and flow, peace, and happiness is to:
- Acknowledge when you are feeling out of sorts
- Use your daily practices faithfully to shift into positive energy.
- Ask for the support.
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