You cannot effectively take care of others or sustain a career in medicine unless you take care of yourself. In the busyness of day-to-day practice, you may feel like you don’t have the time or energy to invest in self-care, but you cannot afford not to. Here are five ways to start.
1. Clarify your aim by writing a brief, general statement that describes what you want to achieve, such as “Increase my energy by losing 10 pounds through increased physical activity.”
2. Create one specific goal that will help you accomplish your aim, such as “Walk 30 minutes every morning before work for 30 days.” Focusing on one goal at a time increases your likelihood of success.
3. Identify factors that threaten your goal and plan for how you will address them. For example, if cold weather has impeded your efforts in the past, potential solutions might be to identify an indoor walking track or buy warm exercise clothes and place them by your bed each night so you see them as soon as you wake up.
4. Focus not just on the outcome you desire but also on the process that will lead you there. You can track your progress using a process metric (e.g., Did I walk today – yes or no?) and an outcome metric (e.g., On a scale of 1-5, how energetic do I feel?).
5. Set a timeline. Ideally, you should start your wellness plan today and continue for at least 30 days.
(Note: AAFP members and FPM subscribers can download a Personal Health Improvement Plan template, which outlines the process.)
Read the full FPM article: “Physician Well-Being: Prioritizing Your Own Health Through a Personal Health Improvement Plan.”
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