Doctors can make for some of the worst patients. Because they invest so much time and energy in helping other people live healthier lives, they often neglect their own. America’s emergency departments are an excellent place to observe this phenomenon. A high-pressure environment combined with the long hours doctors put in can make for a very unhealthy situation if one doesn’t make the effort to be healthy.
Whether you are an emergency medicine locum, a staff physician, or a brand-new resident, maintaining good health is a choice. It is a choice followed by concrete action. But don’t worry, keeping up with your health is not as hard as it sounds. If you can make a few key life changes and then practice some self-discipline, you will do just fine. Below are a few tips to get you started.
Make Time to Sleep
A 2016 study conducted by the CDC concluded that “more than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis.” That means on average, one in every three people working in your emergency department are not sleeping enough. Are you one of them?
Sleep is important to nearly every aspect of human health. As a physician, you owe it to yourself to make sure you get enough rest. If that means outfitting a special room in your house with an extra comfy bed and blackout curtains, so be it. You are not helping yourself or your patients by not sleeping enough.
Bring Healthy Food from Home
The emergency room is draining. It doesn’t matter if you’re a locum or a staff physician, you will use up a lot of energy running from patient to patient during even a relatively calm shift. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to keep going by drinking cup after cup of caffeinated coffee and downing sugary snacks filled with empty calories.
A better way to go is to bring healthy food from home. Keep an ample supply of fresh fruits and vegetables within easy reach. Whenever you get the urge to snack, put something good in your body. Remember that you are what you eat.
Find a Way to Exercise
The need to get regular exercise is as important for doctors is anyone else. Do not let your hectic and highly demanding career keep you from doing so. Let’s be honest; you can spare 20 minutes every other day to do some calisthenics, go on a brisk walk, or run around the parking lot.
For a lot of us, the failure to exercise doesn’t really have anything to do with a lack of time. It is more that we just don’t want to do it. That is understandable for the ED physician who is completely worn out at the end of a shift. But regular exercise is still necessary for good health. So make the time.
Use Down Time for You
Finally, you can help maintain your own good health by taking your down time and using it for you and your family. The hospital is not going to crumble into a heap of rubble because you are gone for 48 hours. Go spend time with your family doing things that will keep your mind off work and on them. Learn to laugh; set aside the idea that it’s your job to save the world.
It is true that family medicine jobs are among the most stressful in the medical field. As such, they can be detrimental to your health. To maintain good health, you have to make the effort to practice a healthy lifestyle.