I’m known for being pretty no-nonsense in my approach to getting on with things and not making a fuss when things get difficult. I’m sure you are the same.
Since helping clinicians grow their private practices, one of the key things I emphasise is – and here comes that fluffy phrase – “Self-care”.
Here’s the thing:
When we are starting out in private practice, we are usually full of energy and happy to be available all hours, because we are so enthusiastic to get things going.
When patient numbers are slowly growing, but we’re yet not at the stage of being fully booked, it can be difficult to imagine a time when you have too much flippin’ work on. Trust me, it will happen some day, and it may come as a real shock if you find yourself burnt out, sick, or cursing yourself for getting into this shenanigans in the first place.
Your Grandma was right; “You need to take more care of yourself”.
Sadly, self-care is the last thing Clinicians put as a priority.
Why does this happen?
Well, the NHS pretty much mandates that we work around the clock, turning a blind eye on the effects of regular sleep deprivation and an over stretched bladder.
We’re then expected to ‘nurture’ our bodies with reformed, fried ‘shapes’ in the hospital canteen, or tatty, cold pizza, if it’s two o’clock in the morning and you’ve only just left theatre.
Let’s not forget we are obliged to provide on-tap compassion twenty-four-seven. This is despite working in a landscape of compassion-free clinic scheduling. It’s no wonder that we march on into Private Practice with this institutionalised mind set.
If, however, you want to thrive rather than simply survive, self-care is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. Self-care is your superman underpants protection in a world of self-imposed stress and overwhelm.
You need to change your mindset around self-care, and rather than think of it as deep breathing or drinking a green smoothie, think of it as something you need to sprinkle throughout your day.
Have you ever felt like punching a family member on the nose when they told you that you needed to ‘slow down and take more care of yourself‘? Couldn’t they see that you have a ton of work on your plate and their reaction wasn’t helping? None the less, self-care shouldn’t be a knee-jerk response to that situation and nor should it be something that you berate yourself over.
Give yourself a break and try to show yourself a little of the kindness that you would perhaps show to your best clinical chum, who might be looking more than just a bit frazzled. You would hardly be telling him or her to man up and get over it.
Strange how we are not so kind with ourselves.
Have a go at sprinkling the following Ninja tricks throughout your day:
Get your day prioritised before someone else prioritises it for you.
Start your morning with ten minutes of silent time when you can have a think and a brew, and write down the three things that you want to have achieved by the end of the day. This needs to happen despite the whirlwind of activity and everyone else’s demands.
Prioritise your wishes first. Make sure you do those things before any other demands that are placed upon you by others. Be ruthless.
Have a little reflection at the end of the day and give yourself a pat on the back if you have at least accomplished one of the three things on your list. There are plenty of lifestyle apps and very cool diaries to help you to be able to do this. See useful links at the bottom of the page.
Make exercise an absolute must.
If possible, try to weave it into part of your commute or transition between work and home. It doesn’t have to be a five mile run (although good on you if you manage it!) Even if you take a forty-five minute yomp home with a fun podcast, it’s a great way to wash off the demands of all of those noxious patients.
Make time to be nice to your spouse, squeeze, flatmate or Ma and Pa.
Chances are living with a wannabe-workaholic Clinician ain’t a bag of laughs for them all the time, either. Nurture them. Don’t offload all of your clinic moans onto them the moment you get in the door.
My hubby very sensibly gives me ten minutes to de-compress when I walk into our home, so I can scrub my face and re-set and then greet him all sweetness and light. Try it.
If you have ankle biters who insist at hurling themselves at your legs as if they were ten pin bowling balls, remind yourself that you probably only need to give them five to ten minutes of undivided attention before they will get bored and go back to watching “In The Night Garden” anyway. Give them that time and you can go back to writing your stellar lecture about Pemphigus after that.
Have an early night at least once a week.
It sounds so simple, but isn’t it amazing how Game of Thrones or Netflix interferes with a bit of shut-eye. Get to bed before 10pm. Better still, take your spouse with you. Enough said.
Schedule two hours a fortnight when you get to do something you love doing.
This is probably something you would ordinarily consider as ‘being a bit selfish’. You deserve a reward, a treat, and to pamper yourself for working so hard. No one else is going to do it for you.
For example: Arranging for someone to look after your children whilst you go to a comedy improv class. Getting your nails painted whilst you drink a glass of champagne. Or, watching the latest Blade Runner 2049 with your mates.
Ladies, in particular, may need nudging into this. We are not asking you to eBay your children, just to have a little time doing something for you.
Keep in mind the bigger picture.
If you are ultimately aiming to work towards having a day off per week, your week needs to start looking like that. Growing a successful practice can be hard work, but it can also be hugely rewarding when it serves you well, in the way you want to live your life.
Scheduling time for self-care is the best way to keep you bright-eyed, bushy tailed and robust.
If you need permission to get your life together in this respect, email me and I will grant it!
Otherwise, If you need some practical help so you don’t overwhelm yourself with the business side of running a successful practice, then get in touch.
We are waiting to help you gain more patients and boost your referrals, like a Private Practice Ninja.
Sometimes, we all need a little extra help in building our practices – from a business perspective, as well as a clinical one.
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