Skip to main content

There are Three S's in Balance

This post is brought to you by the letter "S"...

A couple of weeks ago, I gave a talk to our local medical school on the importance of stress management and wellness for physicians in training. As a reminder during the holiday season, I wanted to share the key points from my slide, "My Keys to Prevent Burnout". Even though I've written about these themes before (here, here, and here), I thought this would be nice to share again. My message can be summed up in three S's:

Self-knowledge.  The beginning of medical school (or any other professional school) is a good time to start consciously thinking about what makes you tick. What motivates you? How do you handle stress, and what methods of stress reduction work for you? What kinds of things do you (already) like to do in your free time? How can those things be applied (in truncated fashion, maybe) when you're super-busy? A good way to figure this out is journaling, which can be effective from a few shorthand notes to full-blown essays. There are lots of apps to facilitate journaling on the go (no need to have lots of little stray papers or notebooks lying around, unless you're like me and enjoy writing on actual paper). Check out this NYTimes article discussing a few of these apps, or this one on regarding Ipad apps.

Self-care. After investing in some self-awareness, make sure to prioritize time for your chosen methods of self-care administration. Even if it's just a few minutes a day of "me" time, ignoring self-care means that eventually you will be a less effective ________ (insert: student, resident, wife, husband, mother, father, provider, person)! This not only involves mental but also physical self-care; try to avoid becoming a patient (like me)! But if you do, at least you will have the tools to deal with it.

Simplification.  As much as possible, balancing a busy professional life requires streamlining. Just as business-minded people outsource certain tasks, you must learn to delegate. For me, this meant re-budgeting to hire a cleaning person (as cleaning tasks take a considerable amount of time). It also meant forgoing holiday visits to my parents if I only had a few days off of work (too much family stress over the actual "event" day when quality time could be spent on a less-crazy, "off" weekend visit).

Do you have any go-to key things that you do to prevent your own burnout? At the start of this holiday season, share them here! 


  1. I think your "Three S's" sum up a lot of what a person needs to do to handle their own stresses. Self-care is huge but neglected by most (unfortunately).
    I find that the best things I can do to manage stress are A) ensure I keep up with my regular exercise routine and B) catch some extra sleep when I start to feel stress levels in my life getting out of control.
    For myself, I have determined that those 2 things on their own have a huge effect on how I psychologically handle stress (nevermind the improved ability to physically handle the stress).

    1. Thanks for your comment, Mark! While I also am an avid exerciser and use it ti psychologically deal with stress, sometimes I have to dial back my exercise amount or intensity in conjunction with upping my amt of sleep. I failed to do this last week and then came down with the flu... now I have had a week off of working out! Good luck finding the balance!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Bittersweet: 21 Day Sugar Detox Results

From now on this is the only kind of cupcake I really want (there's a "cherry" on top of that hat)!
As a result of what I felt was an out of control craving for sugar and sweet foods, I decided to embark on a 21 Day Sugar Detox (read the whole post here). And I survived without my chocolate and candy! Amazing. Here are my observations:

- The first 2-3 days were the hardest. I was used to having sweet flavors all day, and the abrupt change (starting with my morning coffee) was like a slap in the face. At first, I craved a sweet taste constantly. But that feeling subsided, and my tastes did start to change. A green apple began to taste quite sweet, for example. I wouldn't say that I now love coffee without my vanilla stevia drops, but it isn't bad. Now that I've done it, I can vouch for what others have said: curbing your intake of sweet foods definitely decreases your cravings for them. After a while, I just didn't even think about sweets, and if I saw the…

Shoe-drop thinking: How to let go of the past?

(Yes, there is something growing in there!)
I'm pregnant, again... I'm almost 10 weeks along and definitely feeling symptoms of first trimester pregnancy this time.

No big announcements, clever texts or Facebook posts, no balloons or flowers or drama. Just quiet and cautious happiness... somewhat. You see, it's actually been difficult to enjoy the good news because I'm suffering from self-proclaimed "shoe-drop thinking"; things are going well, so when will the other shoe drop? When will that bad thing happen, you know, because something bad always happens?

I've felt exhausted on a new level, and the nausea started on cue right at 6 weeks. The occasional tugging in my lower abdomen signals the growing pains of my uterus (even though there's not much visible outward growth yet). I've had three ultrasounds that show perfectly-timed fetal growth and a strong heartbeat.

But when I have a day where I feel more energetic, I think maybe it's all over.…