My wellness routine during residency
Wellness, a broad concept comprised of various aspects of mental and physical health, is often overlooked during postgraduate training. I want to emphasize that self-care, wellness, and time management are helpful tools to optimize daily life and mitigate common stressors. These tools, however, shouldn’t be misconstrued as a replacement for basic needs being met, a healthy work environment, or a combination of therapy and medical treatment for mental illness.
I share insight into my own wellness routine during residency in hopes of helping those looking for a starting point in developing their own plan.
I sleep enough, consistently
Sleep helps our bodies physiologically regulate, and retain and process all that we learn during the day. When I’m deficient in sleep, I tend to experience more stress, anxiety, and mental cloudiness, and my wellness pays the price. Of course my sleep routine suffers some weeks, but I generally try to get 8 hours of sleep per night.
I set aside time for my people
Another important wellness tactic is making time for my community of friends and family. Since I value my friends and family, and my place in their lives, challenging myself to socialize a few times a week is fulfilling and paradoxically rejuvenating. Making memories with people is one of my best wellness techniques because remembering the fun times I had at the end of a hard month helps me know I’m accomplishing a good work–life balance.
I’m mindful of media consumption
Residency is a whirlwind of long hours filled with constructive feedback and learning opportunities. Avoiding further intensity in the media I consume helps me be kind to my mental state. For example, my friends know that I rarely, if ever, watch any shows besides sitcoms because I don’t want to add extra stress or anxiety to my daily life. It can be fun to keep up with a new action-packed series, but if it makes my heart beat faster or anxiously await the next episode, I usually avoid it.
I’m also careful about the people I follow on social media so that my time on my phone isn’t hurting my mental well-being. I’m no stranger to the “block” or “unfollow” buttons. I understand this practice may seem abrupt, but it’s just another way I take care of my mind in the midst of an intense year.
I make time for my physical health
While numerous strategies exist to improve physical health, I focus on small habits that I can accomplish as part of a routine. For example, I have developed a skin care regimen as a simple twice daily reminder to take care of myself. I also go on walks throughout the week to spend time in nature and to cultivate an active lifestyle. Finally, I keep track of simple recipes or healthy restaurants where I can enjoy a good meal and look forward to leftovers.
Find your small routine
Getting plenty of sleep, making time for friends and family, intentionally curating my media consumption, and routinely taking care of my physical health have kept me afloat so far. Wellness will inevitably look different for everyone. I encourage every person to find the small routine changes that help them flourish in the demanding yet rewarding field of pharmacy.
Madeline Burling, PharmD, is a PGY1 pharmacy practice resident at a hospital in Olathe, KS. She loves learning about acute care medicine, including emergency and critical care. Outside of work, she enjoys trying new restaurants with her friends, playing pickleball, and cultivating a green thumb for her house plants.