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Lifestyle

Lifestyle“Medice, cura te ipsum” (Physician, heal thyself)
-    Ancient proverb appearing in Luke 4:23

As physicians we must care for ourselves and focus on our own wellness in order to care for others—whether it is our family, friends or patients. All will suffer if we are not physically and emotionally well. There have been so many discussions regarding burnout and work-life balance and it is easy for us to say we are “burned out” and place blame on those around us.

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist or to accept the responsibility for changing them.”
-    Dennis Waitley

We can change ourselves and in turn change more around us. Wellness is the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.

Areas of focus for wellness include the following:

  • Sleep
  • Mindfulness
  • Nutrition
  • Movement/exercise
  • Relationships

“Some days we will not know whether to laugh or cry. But trying to be everything to everyone, all the time, is a recipe for disaster. And endlessly striving for perfect balance only turns our lives into a tightrope, upon which we never dare to dance, for fear of a terrible fall. So, remember: The pages of your life belong to you. Write a story that makes you happy and proud.  And someday, somewhere, a wonderful little girl will read it and say, ‘I want to be just like her.’”
-    Queen Rania of Jordan

Wellness Resources:
American Medical Association STEPS Forward Program
National Academy of Medicine
 

Sleep

“Sleep is the golden chain that binds health and our bodies together.”
-    Thomas Dekker

Short sleep duration is a risk factor for:

  • Heart disease and hypertension
  • Weight gain
  • Malignancy
  • Accidents
  • Chronic lower respiratory disease
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Renal disease
  • Self-harm (suicide)

It’s more than just decreased quantity. Poor quality is also a contributing factor for:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep related breathing disorders
  • Circadian rhythm, sleep-wake disorders
  • Parasomnias
  • Sleep related movement disorders

Sleep Resources:
CDC - Sleep and Sleep Disorders

Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson, MD

Eat, Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath

Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits—to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life by Gretchen Rubin
 

Mindfulness

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
-    Thich Nhat Hanh

Mind-body interventions are important. Stress is a trigger for inflammation and mood disturbances. Your mental, emotional and spiritual health are all linked. Try yoga or meditation. Relaxation is important for your mental health.

“The mind is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets and the more it can expand.”  
-    Idowu Koyenikan

Mindfulness Resources:
The Happiness Project, Tenth Anniversary Edition: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

Mindfulness Apps:
Headspace
10% Happier

Mindfulness Podcasts:
Happier with Gretchen Rubin
 

Nutrition

“You are what you eat, so don’t be fast, cheap, easy or fake.”
-    The Morning Chalk Up.

Think of food as medicine. Eating healthy will improve your health and decrease your chances for chronic illness. There are many different dietary lifestyles: paleo, keto, plant-based, Mediterranean, intermittent fasting. They all share the same general principles: remove processed, preserved and fast food (i.e., things that are quick and in a box or bag), avoid eating foods with added sugars and consuming too many natural sugars, including simple/processed flours, and eat lots of vegetables.  

Nutrition App:
MyFitnessPal

Nutrition Podcast:
Weight Loss for Busy Physicians
 

Movement/Exercise

“We do not stop exercising because we grow old. We grow old because we stop exercising.”
-    Dr. Kenneth Copper

Moderate intensity exercise is helpful for overall health improvement. Find something you like and do it regularly.  

Other benefits of exercise:

  • Strengthening the cardiovascular system
  • Regulates fuel (i.e., blood sugar and insulin levels)
  • Decreased obesity
  • Elevates your stress threshold
  • Lifts your mood
  • Maintains a healthy immune system
  • Fortifies your bones
  • Boosts motivation
  • Guards against neurodegenerative diseases including dementia

“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to healthy”
-    Hippocrates

Exercise Resources:
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey, MD
 

Relationships

 “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much”
-    Helen Keller

The human need to belong is fundamental and part of our well-being. Community is a vital ingredient in the sense of joy, purpose, physical and mental well-being, and basic human needs. Studies have shown that weak social ties are as harmful to our own health as being an alcoholic and twice as harmful as obesity. Isolation sets off a cellular chain reaction that increases inflammation and suppresses the body’s immune response to disease.

“Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”
-    Lou Holtz

Relationships Resources:
Belong: Find Your People, Create Community and Live a More Connected Life by Radha Agrawal

The Art of Community: Seven Principles for Belonging by Charles Vogl

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

Big Potential* by Shawn Achor

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too)* by Gretchen Rubin

*Helpful for work/patient interactions

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