Healthcare providers and staff, essential workers, and caregivers have demanding jobs and at times high stress levels. These elevated stress levels affect our ability to engage in healthy coping behaviors. Not only do we lose energy and motivation for healthy behaviors, we tend to engage more in unhealthy behaviors. This of course can be problematic over time. What are some manageable ways to develop healthier lifestyle practices? By prioritizing our wellness (our physical, psychological, and spiritual health) - we can prevent breakdowns in our physical/psychological health and functioning and increase our effectiveness in daily our roles.
The 2020 & 2021 Medscape Physician Lifestyle and Happiness Report queried over 15,000 physicians in the U.S. representing different specialty areas and came up with interesting findings:
As a non-physician, I think this information is eye-opening and at the same time, really important to normalize the burden they face at times. I am encouraged when I have friends/co-workers in the healthcare field who talk openly about therapy and how it has helped them. In her 2017 Lifestyle Medicine presentation, Dr. Suzanne Koven proposed that physicians don’t take care of themselves or seek help because of a culture of self-sacrifice, denial (that there is a problem), shame, worries about losing their job, and being too busy. I think there are also essential workers, caregivers, and sole breadwinners who have similar barriers to self-care and are similarly burned out and overcommitted.
Whatever your professional background...
If you identify that you want to (or need to) work on this area of wellness, start by deciding what you hope to gain. Perhaps ask yourself what is the problem you are trying to fix or prevent? Consider what factors in the recent past led you to be less “well” today. Come up with a simple and do-able plan for change- perhaps even consult with experts for additional support. Your support team may include family and friends, colleagues/mentors, doctor, therapist, dietitian/trainer, or a life coach. Here are some activity ideas to help with wellness through stress management:
There have been times in my life when I’ve been guilty of “overtraining”- basically exercising too much and not allowing time for the body to recover. When this happens, I start to have difficulties sleeping and my workout performance is not as good; sometimes I don't find my workouts enjoyable. At these times, I try to switch to milder activities and even incorporate stretching and yoga to get more "balance." Lately, it's been hard for me to find the motivation to get out on the trails- which usually happens in the winter, but even more so with COVID-19. I finally coaxed myself to just do it- I put on some new trail socks that I got for Christmas (motivation!) and told myself that I can walk the entire trail and that will be totally all right. Let me tell you, that I was so glad I went trail walking/jogging – it really helped me to feel better physically and mentally. I shot this video below while on the trail. I hope it will bring positive energy by bringing some of the wonderful outdoors inside.
If you are interested in getting support in your wellness journey or need help with making work or home life smoother, I am here for you! I offer free phone consultations to see how we can get started with therapy (teletherapy only at this time). You can call or email whenever you are ready. <3 Be well !
All blog posts from Dr. Soo Hoo are provided for educational and informational purposes only. As Dr. Soo Hoo is a licensed clinical and health psychologist, we must make it clear that nothing on the blog is intended to constitute medical or psychological advice, consultation, recommendation, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are concerned about your health, please seek appropriate care in your area.