Since these trying times in the medical field, health workers are experiencing a high magnitude of stress in order to fulfill their responsibilities in healthcare, whether self-imposed or mandated. Burnout is quickly becoming a major issue and having self-care for medical frontliners is the best way to prevent it from asserting itself in your work environment. Despite popular belief, self-care isn’t limited just to taking long breaks. It has many facets and you may have already been practicing some of them without even realizing it!
It’s a sad but true fact that medical frontliners experience some of the highest levels of burnout. Frontline medicine is a selfless position, and I believe many selfless individuals are more prone to burnout due to their selflessness.
So if you work in frontline medicine, take heart. Here are 8 self-care tips for frontliners…
Don’t Neglect Your Own Health
If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything else. Unfortunately this is all too often the case; doctors selflessly give themselves up for their patients time and time again until they start falling apart at the seams themselves which leads to them taking it out on their family, friends, and self. Don’t fall into this self-sacrificial trap. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others and yourself).
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Follow the 80/20 Rule in Self-Care
I love the 80/20 principle with regards to self-care and it’s simple and effective. The idea is that you spend 20% of your time on self-care like going for a run to get away from stress), and then dedicate 80% of your time towards work such as completing medical charts or speaking to patients.
This is a win-win because:
- If you maintain an active self-care regimen, I don’t think it will negatively impact your work, and
- Self-care ensures that you can contribute to the medical profession for many years to come.
The Self-Neglect Checklist
When I self-reflect with regards to self-care, it takes the form of a self-neglect checklist which has to do with things like: “Do I get enough sleep?”, “Am I eating the right kinds of food?”, “Are my bills paid?”. Seriously, you have to take note of that in your own self-neglect checklist.
You may not have considered self neglect as self care before reading this article, but self care is about prioritizing yourself and treating yourself well, too. It’s not just some fluffy new age concept.
Here are some important reminders to include in your checklist:
- Sleep 8 hours per night, or at least 4 hours, and make up up for it during your “off” days.
- Drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day
- Eat 3 healthy meals per day
- Spend time outdoors, have a dose of vitamins from Mr. Sun
- Self-reflect weekly, perhaps by journaling or reading a self-help book, or treating yourself in a spa
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Take a Self-Care Day (or week)
I’m always surprised at how rejuvenating it is to take a health-related self-care day, even if you just go for an easy jog or do some simple strength training, your mind will thank you and so will your body.
It’s not always possible to switch our days off around so that we can have self care days, but if it does fit into your schedule, I highly recommend seeking out self care opportunities when they arise. If you want to try this in the future, set yourself notifications on your phone with articles about self care or quotes about self care and then put them into action during self-care days.
Reach Out for Self Care Support
Sometimes self-care is about reaching out to friends, family members, and healthcare professionals (e.g., doctors, nurses). If you are having self neglect issues, it’s always a good idea to reach out for self care support.
Ask your trusted friends or family members if they can help you with anything around the house or if they want to go for a walk together, and/or schedule an appointment with your doctor for medication or therapy sessions that will decrease your self neglect tendencies.
Add Self Care Into Your Daily Routine
You might think that self care is something you do only occasionally when life gets too much, but this isn’t self care – self care is a lifestyle. You should add self care into your daily routine, and not just on self-care days. If you do so, self care will become second nature to you. It will be as natural as brushing your teeth or eating breakfast in the morning.
I’m also an advocate of implementing the self care principle of saying no to things (e.g., social events, extra work) that you don’t have time for or don’t want to do. Saying no takes courage, and self care is about courage to honor your own boundaries.
Recharge at Leisure Time to Achieve Work-Life Balance
It’s so important to recharge at your leisure time in order to have a healthy work-life balance. You can recharge using your self care checklist to keep your routine on track.
I often use my self-care time to meditate, and I have noticed that meditation not only gives me a sense of inner peace, but it also enables my mind to become more creative.
Self-Care Doesn’t Need to Be Super Expensive
Sometimes, people think of self-care (e.g., a massage) and equate it with something that is expensive, but this isn’t true at all. There are many self-care techniques that can be done from home without spending money like reading a good, stimulating book.
So don’t let money stop you from doing self care activities! And if you do want to go for a self care activity (e.g., self neglect checklist), you can get creative. For example, if your self-care activity is to go for a walk in nature, you can bring some bread crumbs with you and feed the ducks as you walk along the river.
Ask Yourself “Is this self-care?” This is an Indicator
If you are doing something that doesn’t feel self-caring but know deep down inside that it is good for yourself (e.g., watching TV instead of reading a self help book), ask yourself “is this self care?”.
If it isn’t, start treating yourself better by putting your feet up more often or going more often to events that interest you, strolling at the park for example or eating an icecream. In this way, self care can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. It will help you to care for yourself better and feel happier overall.
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This self-care article is for frontliners and self care articles like this one are as important to prevent burnout. If you know you are a selfless individual, self care is crucial and you deserve it. I hope this self-care for medical frontliners will help you prevent burnout and all the other stresses around you. Feel free to bookmark this, and don’t forget to do it for yourself.
We all thank our medical frontliners for their selflessness and hardwork. You are our heroes and heroines without the cape. 🙂