Maintaining a social life as a working physician

Just like any routine or habit, it takes practice, commitment, and consistency.

If you are doctor struggling with your work and social life, there is a way to find balance between the two. However, it's not as easy as reading this article. Just like any routine or habit, it takes practice, commitment, and consistency.

Schedule some personal time

It is important to set aside some time for yourself. Create a schedule and do it on a regular basis. Don’t give yourself breaks just because you have the free time. Instead, make time to fully enjoy these well-deserved breaks.

How you want to spend your “me” time will be entirely up to you. Engage in activities that can help you feel relaxed and revitalized. Do things that will take care of your mental, physical and emotional health.

It’s important you create this kind of schedule and stick to it. Remember that you can’t take care of your patients unless you take care of yourself first.

Adjust your on-call time or duty hours

Being an on-call doctor could make it difficult to take your mind off work. Seeing many patients in a day or serving long shifts can take a toll on your emotional and physical health. It may not be an option for everyone to reduce their hours; however, if you can make an adjustment, even if it’s just temporary, working fewer hours can help you get back on your feet and connect with other people and give you the breather you need.

Be present

When you’re facing issues with your patients, make sure you’re not thinking about problems at home. Similarly, don’t bring your patient’s problems home when you’re not at work. Be mindful and stay in the present. Otherwise, you might not be performing your best at work, and you could miss something important with your loved ones.

If this has become a struggle, consider meditation and mindfulness strategies to improve your focus. 

Take up a hobby

Is there any pastime you used to do in college? If you didn’t have a hobby back then, try and explore new experiences. You could learn a new instrument, join a community, or grow your own garden. It could be anything that takes your mind off work and helps you feel relaxed and refreshed.

Stay in touch with friends

While there’s nothing wrong hanging around with colleagues and clinicians all day, have a break and call that one friend from the past. We all have that friend whom we’ve always wanted to call but didn’t’ because we were just too busy.

Take a minute and make that phone call. Schedule a quick coffee or join the next reunion! Either way, your social life shouldn’t be limited to your professional circle.

Ask for help

Just because physicians are medical superheroes, that doesn't mean they don’t need help. If you are struggling with a patient or any issue, ask for help. Learn from the experiences of other doctors. It doesn’t only help you solve your patients’ problems more effectively, but it also strengthens your social circle at work.

Physicians play a critical role in our society, primarily for taking care of others. But who takes care of them? As a physician, it’s important to take these much-needed breaks and to prioritize self-care. Treat yourself once in a while. Do that thing that makes you feel happy and rejuvenated. Get moving or consider meditation. Connect with people and start building sustainable relationships. When you take some time to relax, you’ll have more enthusiasm and energy to do better in your profession.

About the Author
Colin Zhu, DOis a traveling physician who is board certified in family practice/OMT and lifestyle medicine. He has practiced as a CompHealth locum tenens physician for four years. Zhu is an international speaker and the author of "Thrive Medicine: How To Cultivate Your Desires and Elevate Your Life” and podcast host of Thrive Bites and creator of The THR5 Formula™Masterclass series, an online resource for healthcare professionals and students on learning how to thrive.