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Finding Physician Work-Life Balance in the Small Moments


At my practice and at home, things are always busy. There's laundry or homework, or a patient with needs.

In a typical workday, peace seems elusive. There is the endless rush of patients and clinical staff.   Usually, multiple people want something from me all at the same time.  Sprinkled in between the chronic disease visits and colds are perplexing cases that I need some dedicated think time to solve.  I’ve tried the deep breathing, yoga poses, walks around the block and have yet to find a reliable way to offload the stress of my average workday.

Similarly at home, things are busy.  My kids rarely allow more than 30 seconds to elapse before they have something important to ask or share (this is true - I’ve timed them!). There’s always a load of laundry to fold, a nose to wipe, homework to supervise, or an important conversation to have.  I like to hide away and read or watch a movie but I can’t say those times are truly peaceful.  Even being at home, where I often long to be, I do not often feel calm. I feel busy, rushed, and tired. 

I know that the lack of calm I feel is of my own making.  Both at work and at home, the endless list of things to-do pressures me to do-do-do. To sit and relax or be calm feels indulgent and something only to be enjoyed when everything else is done. Of course, all those other things will never be fully done.  There will always be homework or a patient and without a conscious effort to stop and remove myself from that, I will never find what my soul seems to seek. 

Finally, I have found the perfect place to enjoy a peaceful moment. Unfortunately, my kids found it too. In our backyard today, I sat in an Adirondack chair under the apple blossoms enjoying a perfect blue sky and a warm breeze.  Just as I was settling in, the kids decided to join me. Not surprisingly, they were not content to enjoy the peaceful afternoon.  My son decided to test his friends’ claim that you can eat dandelions. My other son insisted that I wrap his nerf sword in blue duct tape so he could fight with his brother.  My daughters took turns trying to break the lawn chairs.

While I complain about the kids interrupting my relaxation, I enjoy them being there. It is a snapshot of the larger portrait of my life. I crave times of peace, calm, and relaxation but if they occurred too often or too long, I would get bored and miss the noisy excitement that my kids bring to my life. This afternoon demonstrates my own perfect life balance.  Not too busy to enjoy a lazy afternoon in the backyard with my kids. 

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