As a healthcare professional, you give yourself to others each and every day. Some may go as far as to say that you’re a real-life hero (cough, we would totally say it, cough), but even heroes need some time to step back and make some resolutions to improve their lives.
As you head into a new decade, we encourage you to choose a few resolutions that can help you be a healthier, happier version of yourself.
1. Invest in something that makes you feel good at work
When you’re primarily wearing scrubs to work, it can be easy to feel like there’s no real point to investing in your appearance. But it’s important that you feel good at work, because that will affect how you carry yourself, how you present yourself to patients, and ultimately, how you interact and care for them.
So whether it’s a pair of scrubs that feel like butter against your skin, shoes that ease your achy legs, or a new skin cleanser to make you feel more awake, do something small that can help you get through day holding your head up just a little higher.
2. Turn your bedroom into a sanctuary
It’s widely documented that healthcare workers don’t get enough sleep and unfortunately, a lack of sleep can negatively impact patient outcomes. Sometimes, you can’t control your sleep schedule, but you can control how restful your environment at home is. Follow some tips from the National Sleep Foundation to turn your bedroom into a sanctuary, like upgrading your pillow and installing soft lighting that won’t interfere with melatonin production.
3. Say “hello” to true self-care
Sure, bubble baths are nice, but true self-care is about tending to yourself, financially, mentally, and emotionally. So whether it’s that medical exam you’ve been avoiding, that bill you’ve been ignoring, or the therapy appointment you have been cancelling, this year is the year to make real self-care a priority.
4. Make time to move your body outside of work
Healthcare can be a physically demanding job, there’s no doubt about that. But it’s still important to move your body outside of your occupational requirements.
You don’t have to do high-intensity workouts to do your body some good. For example, if your job is filled with adrenaline rushes in the ER, counteract the stress with yoga, stretching, or doing some laps in the pool.
5. Assess yourself for burnout
You’re good at assessments, right? It’s part of your job, so turn that analytical mind on yourself for a minute, and do a quick assessment to determine if you’re displaying any signs of burnout.
And if you conclude that you are not burned out — first of all, congrats! — and second of all, keep it that way by employing burnout prevention strategies and taking time to regularly assess for burnout and make changes as necessary.
6. Give “food prep” a real shot
Is there anything more ironic than the fact that healthcare workers have some out of the worst diets around? There’s just something about fast food or a pocket of M & M’s at 2 AM in the middle of a night shift.
But this year, make a resolution to give food prep a real shot. While meal prep is time-consuming, all it takes to “food prep” is to carve out time once a week to make “grab-and-go” snacks, like hard-boiled eggs, washed and cut veggies, baggies full nuts or almonds, or even freezer meals like healthy burritos or egg bites.
7. Just say no to free food in the break room
It pained me to write that, it really did. But truly, just because there’s donuts in the break room or a catered lunch from the drug rep doesn’t mean you actually have to eat it. I totally understand that as HCPs, we take food whenever we get the chance. But if you food prep, you can munch your healthy snacks instead.
8. Teach someone a new skill
Whether it’s that new PA on the floor or a group of students quaking anxiously in the corner, take it upon yourself to pass some of your skills and experience onto someone this year.
9. Try a new hobby
Healthcare workers tend to eat, sleep, and breathe medicine, but actively engaging in a new hobby can refresh you in ways that will only make you better at work. Many healthcare workers find that due to the technical aspects of their job, a creative hobby at home provides the perfect balance.
10. Read a real book, just for fun
Remember books? Those things filled with paper that you can feel underneath your fingertips, smell through crisp, new pages, and don’t come with their own built-in light? Yeah, those. This year, resolve to do some reading of a real, physical book just for fun. Medical textbooks don’t count, so don’t even try it.
And if you’re able to read that book on a beach because you finally decide to take that long overdue vacation, well, even better. Happy New Year to you, indeed!