Holidays are supposed to be a relaxing and enjoyable time, even if you are a doctor. It should be a time to let go of the overwhelm of your medical practice and reconnect not only with family and friends but also with yourself.
But your experience may not be the idyllic time of fun and relaxation portrayed in the travel brochures. Your holiday may equal your expectation of what ought to happen when you take time away from work.
Instead of feeling refreshed and relaxed you come back to your patients feeling worse than they look, exhausted, frustrated and wondering what happened to your dreams of rest and relaxation.
While away you found it was almost impossible to forget about work- related worries and however much you tried to leave technology at home you found yourself checking and answering emails and discussing work issues with colleagues via email or Skype in spite of the irritation and annoyance of your family or friends.
You’ve been left wondering if it always has to be like that: whether as a doctor you can ever ‘get away from it all’, and enjoy a holiday.
But it doesn’t have to be like this! There is an alternative if you can do just three simple things:
- set boundaries
- look after yourself
Setting boundaries: decide before you go away what you will accept in relation to emails, telephone calls and dealing with emergencies: by making sure you have arranged adequate cover for your routine work, told those who need to be told what you do not want to be contacted about and who will deal with any urgent problems.
Looking after yourself: remember to address your needs in relation to: body, mind and spirit so exercise regularly, by walking swimming or whatever opportunities your holiday destination offers, eat and drink well but not excessively; and enjoy the moment whether it’s a wonderful sunset a magnificent view from the top of a mountain or across the sea or whatever inspires you in your holiday environment.
Relax: Be aware of areas of tension in your body then consciously take a deep slow breathe in and as you breathe out let go of that tension. Repeat this exercise during the day whenever you think about work or things you have to do when you return.
There are of course many other things you could do when on holiday to let go of the work stress and return refreshed and face the challenges again.
However if you make a start with these three and please put a comment below this post with your thoughts about more ways which help doctors enjoy their holidays more and leave work stress behind them for a while so that they, and you, can come back to work refreshed and ready to tackle problems.