I feel like in most of the articles, social media posts, and blogs I read about the residency experience that we focus on what our medical partners aren't giving us--their time, attention, a break from doing the dishes or laundry. What about what we're giving ourselves?
One of my work friends, Heidi , is a life and writing coach. I've watched her own self-care process evolve as she became a life-coach (when I met her she was teaching reading and writing in a classroom setting, which she still does, but I love her individual coaching stories). She often posts about how she's engaging in self-care and asks those who follow her around the web what we're doing for our own self-care.
I don't tend to have full self-care Saturdays (although I do whenever I can manage them), I do struggle with daily self care. As SOs of med students, residents, practicing doctors we get so tied up in thinking that if we don't keep things in order life will fall apart. That's probably not true--certainly it isn't as true as we convince ourselves it is. And, if we're not engaging in self care practices, of course we're going to be angry and resentful. Here are some things I do. Maybe you can find some ideas here, or feel free to share your own self care practices in the comments.
Moving for the sake of moving: I started this post with Jenny Ford's trailer for her YouTube channel. She is my virtual trainer. I have a soft spot for step aerobics, and Jenny's channel delivers. Not into step? She's got weight training videos, some very brief and basic yoga information, and floor aerobics (see her "marching" videos). One of the things I love about her website, too, is that she's set up a few 30 day programs with links to her YouTube versions of the videos. There's no guessing about what work out to do when! Another plus? She's very responsive to her fans and loves interacting with them. I also love the app Yoga Studio.
Audiobooks: I am a big reader, but I also like to walk the dogs (they drive me crazy otherwise). My public library has a great selection of audiobooks that I can take on those long walks (did I mention moving around helps?). Sometimes, though, if the book is really good, I listen during the day while I'm cooking. I tend to favor autobiographies/memoirs read by the people who wrote them. Meredith Baxter's was a favorite recently, and Chaz Bono's book was interesting. Right now, I'm listening to Life After Death by Damien Echols and it is heart-breakingly good. I favor these kinds of books because it's like the person is sitting at the kitchen table telling you their story.
Podcasts: See above. It takes awhile to find podcasts that fit your style, but once you do, you might be hooked. Some of my current imaginary friends include the writer Joanna Penn, who does great interviews with other writers. Are you the only person left on the planet who didn't listen to Serial? Give it a go. It's free.
Planning: Let's face it. Life after residency won't just be new for your doctor, it will be new for you too. Start planning what you want that post-residency life to look like and how you want to spend that time. It sure beats focusing on what we can't control now. Residents don't make a lot of money--if you're like us, your household income will double or triple when your doctor starts practicing post residency and/or fellowship. That opens a lot of doors for you to consider a second act yourself. Why not start considering that now and involving your partner in that dialogue in the five minutes you get to talk at the zombie most days? They'll be relieved and happy to see you excited about something.
I'm no saint--I also binge watch Netflix and Hulu, drink red wine, and eat chocolate (don't get me started on baking activities or taste testing gins and making homemade tonic syrup).
So, what do you do for self care?
This blog is written from the perspective of an older medical spouse who happens to be childless by choice. I hope that husbands, older spouses, those childless by choice, and others will find this entertaining and occasionally useful.