By Yi Hsuan Chen, MD
As healthcare professionals, we dedicate years to learning how to care for our patients, continually honing our skills to provide the best possible care. However, in our demanding schedules, we often forget to care for ourselves. To be effective caregivers, we must be in peak physical and mental condition – this starts with self-love and self-care.
Identify the source of stress and find an outlet.
There are many options for relieving stress, but you must find those that work for you. For me, yoga is my way to relieve stress; here are some components I think make yoga helpful:
- Breathing: Besides training the body, we practice breathing exercises: inhale and exhale through the nose, ensure that exhale time is double the inhale time, and as your body adapts, prolong the time; for example, if you inhale in three counts, exhale in six counts, and increase to four and eight and so on.
- Positive Self-talking: Another component is self-talking, telling ourselves positive phrases, phrases that reinforce our self-esteem, or phrases we need to reach the end of the day; it is a mix of motivational and self-affirmation self-talk; it helps to maintain a positive attitude, as well as boost confidence.
- “Me” time: This is when you focus on yourself and pay attention to your mind, body, and emotions. Do not compare yourself to others, do not be frustrated if you cannot yet do some poses, and do not worry about what is on your to-do list or what you will do after yoga. It may be hard to clear your mind at first, so you can implement techniques like counting backward from 50 and starting over if you lost; this is when listening to your body’s needs, where you are tense, where you ache. Centering your attention on you and only you.
Automate to the maximum.
Time is precious, every minute counts. Optimize your time by delegating or automating tasks or chores. If you do not have time or do not like cleaning and it is stressful, pay someone to come once a week to do it for you or get an autonomous vacuum.
The same goes for food. If you do not have time to think about what to eat, go to the grocery store and cook every meal; one way is to pay for a subscription-based healthy food delivered every day or every week to your house; you also can buy trustworthy frozen food or pre-cooked food to save time. These methods could cost some extra bucks, but it can optimize a lot of time and save a lot of arguing.
It is okay to need help.
The first and most crucial step is recognizing when you need help and seeking it. There is some stigma in certain cultures, where asking for help is seen as a sign of incompetence. However, it’s important to remember that everyone faces challenges; we cannot know everything or have everything figured out. It is paramount to prioritize getting the support you require. Friends can offer valuable support, but it’s essential to recognize that therapists are highly valuable resources for consistent, ongoing assistance. Seek professional assistance before a situation reaches a crisis point, and do not wait until you’ve reached your limit to ask for help.
Life is like going on a journey. It is an endless journey with the process of finding what is important to you and what is precious. Through that journey, you will gain experience and build up various opinions and judgments. But be sure to keep this in mind. If you pay too much attention to the useless things, you will miss the things that truly matter –you.
My name is Yi Hsuan Chen, MD. I was born in Taiwan but raised in Argentina, where I earned my medical degree at the University of Buenos Aires.
I serve as a Clinical Research Coordinator Intern at the Hospital Italiano of Buenos Aires, and I am finishing my Master’s in Clinical Research at the end of this year.
I have been actively involved in volunteer work in the Taiwanese community in Argentina since a young age, and nowadays, at Red Cross Argentina.
I am interested in breast reconstruction, cleft palate, tissue engineering, wound healing, microsurgery, and global surgery.
I hope to advocate for patients of color’s well-being and health equity in the surgical area in the future.
IG Handle: @dryihsuanchen