Doctors can improve the care that they give by prioritizing their own efforts at a healthy lifestyle.
As a doctor, your schedule is often exhaustingly full; it might seem impossible to have the time to build healthy habits into your daily life. But what if I was to tell you that it is really simple to incorporate these into our routines? Implementing healthy habits has many personal benefits which will also aid you in providing the best care for your patients.
How to Create Healthy Habits:
A 2009 study in the European Journal of Psychology has calculated that on average it takes around 66 days to create a new habit. Much like the story of the tortoise and the hare; slow and steady wins the race.
James Clear in his successful Atomic Habits writes about the ‘Goldilocks Rule’. It states that for a habit to be sustainable, it should be challenging enough to be interesting and engaging, but not so difficult that it becomes overwhelming or impossible to achieve. The Goldilocks Rule emphasizes finding the “just right” level of difficulty that keeps the habit enjoyable and rewarding, while still providing a sense of progress and growth. This helps to maintain motivation and momentum in the habit-building process.
Hence, to successfully create a new habit you must ease yourself into it. For example, if the habit you want to create is to exercise more, then you should start by creating more movement in your existing daily routine such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or implementing a short 20-minute walk into your morning routine. By starting with something small and achievable, you are more likely to develop resilience. Once you have created your new habit, you can then begin to expand it; maybe take a long walk each day or join a Pilates class.
James Clear has also written 4 laws to abide by when creating new habits:
Make it obvious - make the new habit visible and clear by creating cues that prompt the desired behavior e.g., if your new habit is to drink more water, then fill a water bottle and keep it on your desk whilst working.
Make it attractive - make it appealing and enjoyable by associating it with positive emotions or rewards.
Make it easy - break down the new habit into smaller, manageable steps, so that it is easy to perform and not overwhelming.
Make it satisfying - create an immediate sense of gratification from performing the new habit, this reinforces the behavior and makes it more likely to be repeated in the future.
It really is as simple as that.
Top 7 Habits You Need For a Healthy, Happy Life:
8 hours of sleep each night
Having a well-balanced diet
Avoid smoking, alcohol, and caffeine
Drink lots of water
Still not convinced that your busy schedule can handle it? The benefits to be felt from healthy habits far outweigh the time and effort it takes to create them:
Top 5 Benefits of Healthy Habits:
Improved mental health: Exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve mood. Eating healthy food and getting enough sleep can also help reduce stress levels, which can have a positive impact on your mental health.
Boosts energy levels: When you eat healthy food, get regular exercise, and maintain a regular sleep schedule, your body will have more energy to get through the day. This increased energy can help you to be more productive at work or school and give you more time to spend on the activities you enjoy.
Improved physical health: Eating healthy food, getting regular exercise, and practicing good hygiene can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, and improve your overall physical health. It can also help you recover faster from injuries and illness.
Improved focus and concentration: Regular exercise has been shown to improve cognitive function, including memory and focus. Eating healthy food can also help to reduce brain fog.
Better sleep: Getting regular exercise and maintaining a regular sleep schedule can help to regulate your circadian rhythm, which can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Eating a healthy diet and avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime can also help improve the quality of your sleep.
In conclusion, healthy habits are essential for a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life; making you best able to pursue your goals. You have a demanding job that requires you to be physically and mentally alert at all times, incorporating healthy habits will help you to maintain energy levels, improve your focus and concentration and reduce your risk of developing health problems. Doctors who prioritize their own health are better equipped to model healthy behaviors for their patients; so not only are there personal benefits but it can also help you to provide better care for patients.
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