“I WILL ATTEND TO my own health, well-being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard” an amendment made to the Declaration of Geneva by Dr Sam Hazledine and Medworld in 2016.
Today, on International Self-Care Day, we have compiled the advice of doctors who are attending to their own health and wellbeing and practising self-care.
Self-Care Day shines a light on the importance of self-care; a reminder for the industry that the benefits of self-care last a lifetime and do not relate just to a single day.
When doctors practice self-care, their patients’ benefits, their patients' families benefit, and so does the community as a whole.
“The reality is – if I don’t look after myself – I cannot look after my family or my patients to the best of my ability. I think we need to repeat that to ourselves regularly” Dr Amanda Wijeratne explained.
By slowly incorporating positive changes and a self-care routine, you can perform more effectively, and your patients will benefit.
“If you have the scaffolding of self-care and supports in place, then it is that buffer which will prevent you from crashing to the ground in really challenging times (in your personal life or medical life)” said Dr Kristine Estensen. She says “The first step is just making the decision to look after yourself”
What is Self Care?
Self-care is taking steps to look after yourself not only now, but in the long term. It is about doing things that make your mind, body, and soul happy and healthy in the long run.
“What does “self-care” look like? I believe it is giving yourself the opportunity to do the things you want or need to do– whether that be – go for a walk, meet a friend, have a bath, go to the gym, go on a date, meditate, see a psychologist, or see your doctor!” Dr Amanda Wijeratne told Medworld.
Make ‘you’ time
“I believe carving out time for self-care is imperative,” said Dr Wijeratne.
Don’t apologise for pushing yourself up on your to-do list. Taking time for yourself will enable your body and mind to heal. You'll make better decisions, which will directly effect the way you do your job.
“By self-caring consistently and regularly you build up a ‘reserve’ that you can draw on when you need it most” explained Dr Kristine Estensen.
When it comes to self-care, she says you should think of the Nike advertisement: “JUST DO IT.”
Take care of your body
Physical health and fitness is an important part of self-care.
“I’m not getting any younger and I’m realising that you have to take care of the body that you have because you can’t just swap it out for another when it hits 50,000 miles!” Dr Alessandro Demaio told Medworld.
Finding the time is about prioritisation and time management. “I go for a walk or run right next to the kids’ school when I drop them off on the days that I don’t start work until 9 am, or I run around the oval while they do their sports training. Sometimes I’ll squeeze in an early morning HIITS class at the gym while the kids get ready for school” explained Dr Amanda Thomson.
Choosing sports like yoga or dance can often be a good way to nurture your mind at the same time as your body.
Dr Emma Thurston says: “It’s not an exaggeration to say that yoga has revolutionised my wellbeing. By waking up and getting straight onto my mat every morning I start each day in a positive, calm mindset”
“I love to take every opportunity I can to encourage others to get active, mostly by trying to lead by example. The evidence surrounding the impact of exercise and physical activity on our general health, both physical and mental, is overwhelming!" Dr Ash Bowden
Take care of your mind
Engaging in regular meditation, yoga, or mindfulness can give you a sense of serenity, peace, and balance. This can help you remain calm through days that may be stressful, emotional, or physically taxing.
“Meditation has helped me appreciate life right now, be present and grateful for what is” says Medworld founder Dr Sam Hazledine.
Dr Lauren Evans says “have a good morning routine – set your intention and focus for the day (this includes goals, a vision of what you want to achieve, tone and energy for the day). Meditation is also amazing!”
"Yoga has been shown to be beneficial for stress management. A common reason for people to take up yoga is to reduce their stress levels and feel more relaxed." - Dr Emma Thurston
Pursue your passions
Pursing your passions outside of medicine can be a great way to enhance your wellbeing. Knowing that you are chasing all your dreams will equip you with a sense of purpose, and bring out the best version of you.
“I think it’s important to dedicate yourself to what you love doing and build your career into your lifestyle instead of sacrificing everything else for it” says Dr Gareth Andrews.
Creative passions are particularly beneficial for doctors as creativity opens the mind and inspires innovation.
“Have other interests in your life and keep time off in your week for other interests. I've always done that because you don't know what's ahead of you. I enjoy doing all sorts of other things. I'm a keen photographer. I've actually been a music producer, I’ve created a number of albums. I've written some books. I've done all sorts of things to keep myself amused and interested” Dr James Muecke told Medworld.
Giving back is said to induce positive physical and mental effects, when you engage in the act of giving back endorphins are released which alleviate stress, and increase self-esteem.
“It is such a rewarding job to be a doctor. We are in a unique position to make a difference in people's lives in their most vulnerable times. If we are healthy, supported, and well-rested it benefits everyone “ explained Dr Amran Dhillon.
You have the ability to give back everyday, it is highly unlikely that you got into the profession for the money - so try to keep your 'why' in mind. If you can find the time to take small positive steps to insert self-care into your daily routine, cherish your opportunities to give back, and stay attentive to your own health and wellbeing then this can lead to a more fulfilling life. A life where self-care is a long term priority, not just a single day.
Dr James Muecke says “the money will come. You will have more than enough money to survive and have a very enjoyable life. But the thing which will be the icing on the cake of your life is the opportunity to give back."
Doctors featured, in order of appearance:
Dr Sam Hazledine (@drsamhazledine)
Dr Amanda Wijeratne (@dramandawijeratne)
Dr Kristine Estensen (@cerebral_aesthetics)
Dr Alessandro Demaio (@sandrodemaio)
Dr Amanda Thomson (@dramandathomson)
Dr Emma Thurston ( @dremmathurston)
Dr Ash Bowden ( @doctordomore)
Dr Lauren Evans (@drlaurenevans)
Dr Gareth Andrews (@garethandrews_15)
Dr James Muecke (@drjamesmuecke)
Dr Amran Dhillon (@dr_dhillon_au)