Being an alternative healthcare provider is incredibly rewarding. You’re highly skilled in your area of expertise, and you partner with your perfect patients to help them live their healthiest lives. You give tons of advice and answer some tough questions. You’re committed to providing excellent care.
But often, the best parts of being a healthcare provider can also prove to be the most challenging. While you may shine at taking care of your patients, you may struggle with taking care of yourself. And in a year that’s proven to be quite challenging, that struggle may feel amplified.
If this sounds like you, you aren’t alone. So, what can you do to help better care for yourself? One powerful way is to integrate self-care into your daily routine.
Having a Daily Bookend Routine
As a committed practitioner, it’s easy to give to others – your patients, staff, friends, and family. But you may find that if you do this at your own expense, and soon your mental and physical well-being will take a hit. And this can make it harder to serve with excellence.
One ongoing challenge you may face is striking a balance between home and work. You love what you do, and you can’t help but get excited over it each day. But sometimes, instead of you running your day, your day runs you.
From the moment your morning alarm sounds, you grab your phone and start checking emails. Suddenly, your brain is caught up in the list of to-do’s, should-haves and oops, I forgot. And before you know it, you’re caught up in the tyranny of the urgent.
One simple yet powerful way to take back control over your day is to create a daily bookend routine. This will help you handle your priorities and make sure the really important things get done. You may not be able to control what happens in the middle of your day, but you can almost always control how you start and end your day.
Below are two simple ways you can create your daily bookend routines. Think about how you might be able to implement and tailor them for your unique day-to-day ritual.
Establish an Opening Day Routine
When your alarm first goes off, what do you do? Do you hit the snooze button? Check your Facebook account? Take a quick peek at your emails?
Doing this can set you up for a crazy day, driven by the surge of messages, wondering who’s doing what, and so on. This doesn’t set you up for a productive and enjoyable day. It can drain your mental energy and decrease your productivity.
Instead, ask yourself, “What can I do to begin my day so that I start out on a strong, solid footing?” If you need some help, here are my go-to tips:
- Just say no to your inbox. Try setting a rule that you do not look at your emails until 30 minutes after you arrive in your office. Spend that first half-hour planning your day and getting a handle on what you need to accomplish – whether it’s reviewing new patient paperwork, writing a report, or other items on your schedule. This helps you to mentally prepare for opening your inbox on your own terms.
- Don’t check social media. This is always a big black hole and a time sink. If you must check social media, plan this at the end of your day.
- Use a planner. Consider having a centralized location for your meeting notes, tasks, appointments, and goals. This will help you stay organized and on task – not just on a daily basis, but it will also keep you on track for your weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals.
These simple tips have the power to set a productive tone for your entire day.
Establish a Closing Day Routine
At the end of your day, consider how you can wrap-up in a way that allows you to close out the activities of the day, put your mind at ease, and set you up for success tomorrow. Below are three ways to help you do just this.
- Set an end time. Choose a time you’d like to finish for the day, and do what you can to stick to it. As that time approaches, start to wind down whatever you’re working on and shift toward reviewing and recapping your day.
- Pull out your planner. Transfer anything you didn’t accomplish that day into your planner for the next working day. This ties up loose ends, which allows your mind to rest at night and will help you hit the ground running the next day.
- Close down your programs and apps. Your email, social media, or anything you had open that could tempt you the next morning – close out of it before you leave for the day.
The goal of your closing day routine is to finish out the day strong so you can take a deep breath, feel prepared for the next day, and enjoy the rest of your evening.
Life Between the Bookends
Establishing those opening day and closing day routines will allow work to be work and home to be home.
But what about life between the two bookends? Here are a couple of final tips on what you can do to better take care of yourself throughout your busy day.
- Be honest about your self-care. It’s absolutely okay to say that you aren’t awesome at taking care of yourself. You ask for honesty from your patients, and it’s okay to ask it of yourself. Consider finding another practitioner that you trust to help you stay on track when your schedule or life gets chaotic.
- Evaluate what you do for fun. Play time isn’t just for kids. Creativity and fun are linked with higher levels of happiness across the entire life span. Maybe it’s as simple as solving puzzles or taking a bus to a new location just for the adventure. Whatever brings you joy, block off some time in your planner to make it happen.
Caring for yourself throughout the day starts with an open reflection of where you are and where you’re struggling. And then it’s all about taking the actions needed to best support yourself.
Make Yourself a Priority
There’s a saying that goes, “Fish can’t see the water.” When you’re so close to the issue at hand, it becomes difficult to view it objectively. The same goes for your health. You can’t help but see yourself subjectively. This is why it’s easy to feel a bit stuck in your own self-care.
Know that you aren’t alone and that it’s okay to say that your self-care game isn’t where you want it to be.
Remember that you’re not just a healthcare practitioner – you’re also a person with a life outside of work, with dreams, hobbies, and loved ones who love you back. Try to set a good example by first caring for yourself. Start by creating an opening day routine and a closing day routine. Try to stick to it for at least a week and see the difference it can make. After that first week, I bet your new routines will be the highlights of your day.
1. (2018, January 4). 7 Ways to Use a Day Planner to Be a Better Entrepreneur (and …. Retrieved September 15, 2020, from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/30687
2. (n.d.). 5 ways to bring play back into your life – Mayo Clinic. Retrieved September 15, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/5-ways-to-bring-play-back-into-your-life/art-20342117