Women in medicine have a full agenda. Once your day begins you are on the go, whether it is clinical responsibilities or catching up with things at home. The high demands of a life as a doctor, nurse practitioner, or nurse with little time to regroup and re-energize contributes to a buildup of stress, overwhelm, and feeling like you are on a hamster wheel.
As important as it is to set an intention for the beginning of each day, it as crucial to set the intention to wrap up your day.
For women in medicine, wrapping up your day brings closure to the career part of your life as you re-enter the personal part of your life as a mother, wife, and the other roles you have. It is important to become mindful of the energy you absorb when working in high acuity, high demand settings of medicine. We are exposed to patient stressors, colleague complaints, and overwhelm as the clock ticks and patients still need to be examined and administrative responsibilities completed. There are also things we trouble shoot that are beyond our scope of practice. A wrap-up routine at the end of day releases that high stress energy. It honors your strengths as you move into your next role. It is a stress management tool that lends itself towards experiencing harmony in your life.
Here is are strategies my clients and I use.
Celebrate the everyday wins
When you have dedicated your life and career to serving others, it is imperative to focus on the cycle of giving and receiving. This shifts you from feeling like you are always giving and sacrificing and opens you to acknowledging what you receive. Celebrating your daily wins is one quick way to shift your energy. Ask any woman in medicine and she can tell you what she’s done for the day. She often follows that with a long list of all the things left undone. Pause. Take a break and bask in the progress, little or big, that happened today.
- Maybe it was spending an extra 10 minutes with a patient and their family without worrying about how it will throw off the schedule.
- Maybe it was staying focused on your higher purpose as you brainstormed solutions for today’s challenges in the unit.
- Maybe it was a few minutes of quality time with your family before heading off to the hospital.
Wrap up your day by celebrating what has gone well today.
Learn from the lessons
Medical professionals tend to be perfectionists and our own worse critic. We do most things ourselves because we want it done right. When it’s not done right, we call it failure. Within the failure are the lessons. Lessons such as:
- How to honor and respect a colleague’s point of view.
- How to delegate to the right team member, then release it and allow the end result to manifest.
- How to acknowledge a patient’s ability to make the best decision for himself or herself and their family, particularly when it differs from our own.
From a place of lessons we are open to learn from others rather than judge and condemn. Wrap up your day in the hospital or office with the question, “What have I learned today that benefits me, my team, and my patients?”
Create a transition point to leave it all behind.
Confession. I am as guilty as my clients. During the commute home, I would replay my day, with all its stressors, frustrations, and things left incomplete. My inner critic had free reign to replay the day. The more I stayed in this space the less available I was for my children when I arrived home. Enjoying life was just beyond my reach. The shift came when I decided to put an end to my work day and move into my home life with ease and grace.
I created the transition point. The transition point is the place along my commute where I move out of doctor mode and into “Me” mode. Me as the woman, the mother, the daughter, and the other roles in my life. As a woman in medicine I lead the team, digest diagnostic lab tests and clinical data, and communicate with families about their newborns in the NICU. In “Me” mode I get to switch gears and lessen the demands of my life. I can say ‘Yes’ to top priority items and ‘Not Yet’ to less pressing items in favor of time with my children and things that bring more joy to my life. My transition point was a bridge that I crossed every day on my way from the hospital. Before approaching the bridge I gave myself permission to replay the day. Initially the replay was from a place of stressing about all that I had done and all that was left to do. Then I went deeper and looked for the lessons. Once I approached the bridge I was thankful for the lessons of the day and then released them.