First Year of Residency is Done! And…Work-Life Tips to Keep you Motivated!

Yesterday marked the end of my first year of residency! I can’t believe how fast the year flew by. As I reflect on the past year, I can say that overall it has been a good experience. I definitely had some very tough moments but I also feel that I have grown so much in my confidence as a doctor. I have worked with some incredible co-residents, staff physicians, medical students, nurses and other wonderful health professionals. It was inspiring to work together as a team, particularly through the challenges of a pandemic!

I wanted to share some of the strategies I used through the past year to keep me motivated:

Weekly goals: this could be something as simple as exercise for 10 minutes a day or read for 15 minutes before bed. Having a goal gives us something to work towards and gives a sense of achievement when completed.

Going out in nature: walks in the woods, lying on the grass in the backyard and daydreaming with the clouds, tuning in to the sounds of birds, the leaves rustling in the wind…nourishment for the soul!

Meeting up with friends and family: this was a challenging one given the restrictions imposed by the pandemic however still possible with all the incredible technology we have today, and now that restrictions are loosening as vaccination rates ramp up, it has been fantastic to physically be with friends and family

Hobbies: I love to play the piano and get a lot of enjoyment out of playing with other musicians too. Despite the pandemic restrictions, I still treasured those moments when we were permitted to play on stage at church on Sunday mornings.

Time-management: between a 2 hour or more daily commute to and from the hospital, managing the household, helping kids with homework etc, it has been essential to be as efficient as possible with time. I generally do most of my reading via audiobooks or podcasts during my commute or when doing mundane household tasks such as cleaning and laundry. Delegation and sharing tasks is also important! I could not have made it this far without the incredible support of my husband…I can’t remember the last time I actually washed a dish as he is the lean, mean, dish-washing machine! Dirty dishes miraculously disappear in his presence! Just one of the many things he does around the house. And now that our kids are getting older (9 and 7 years old), assigning them tasks not only helps me out but gives them a sense of responsibility (at least I like to think so….although their groans and complaining don’t always support my theory!)

Quiet time: Alone time is not always easy to come by but I find is essential for me to re-charge. It is also my time to seek quiet solitude in prayer, thanksgiving and Bible-reading.

Of course, even with all these strategies, I was not always on top of things. No one can be 100% of the time. We have to be kind to ourselves and not beat ourselves up when things slip. The important thing is to get back up when we fall and keep going!

On to my second (and final!) year of residency! Stay tuned!

Four Simple Stress-Busting Strategies

How do you handle a stressful job, demanding school work, family life, parenthood or the challenges of life in general? There is no one-size-fits-all solution but there are some strategies that can help us cope with the day-to-day demands we face. Based on my personal experiences, I have found that there are 4 things that consistently give me energy, stamina, improve my mood and attitude:

  1. Regular exercise: It can be tough to find time to exercise 3 or more times per week. There are so many other things that need to get done! But, physical activity is as beneficial to our bodies as healthy food is. In fact, when it comes to cardiovascular health, physical activity is just as important as healthy food. It can take some time to find a regimen that works for you but setting realistic goals and easing into it could help set the tone for a more consistent exercise routine. Why not start with just 10 minutes every other day? Establishing the habit is the hardest part but you can do it!
  2. A good night’s sleep: This means different things to different people. Some can get by on 5 hours while others (like me) need at least 8 hours a night to feel fully rested. I have personally found that my mood, attention span, ability to learn and handle stress are much better when I have been sleeping well. If you are feeling stressed, consider whether the amount of sleep you are getting is sufficient for your daily needs.
  3. Social ties: Sharing our struggles with those we trust can take some of the burden off our own shoulders and help us cope. There is no shame in feeling overwhelmed or tired. Reach out to someone if you can!
  4. Reflection: Taking time for reflection, prayer or meditation is a fantastic way to make sense of your thoughts and slow down the rhythm of our fast-paced lives. It can also help us bring to the forefront unresolved feelings, hurts or other difficult emotions. Why not set aside 10 to 15 minutes a day for this personal reflection time?

Whatever stresses you may be going through, consider the above basic strategies to help you cope. Simple but effective!

My recommended workout of the week. This is a great 30-minute cardio workout with light weights (5 to 10 pounds) that also targets chest, abs, glutes, obliques, shoulders and legs. For those with problematic knees (like me!), there is a modified version of the exercise displayed. In general, aim for exercises that target multiple muscle groups at once to get more bang for your buck!

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