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It takes a special kind of person to hold trust and care for people when they are at their most vulnerable. Good doctors are knowledgable, skilled, empathetic, hardworking and are strong advocates for their patients. To avoid running the risk of being overly self-sacrificing, here are seven ways to help you stay balanced and perform at your best.

1. Self-reflect

We are human beings first and foremost. What people, activities and environments facilitate satisfaction and contentment for you? Understand your physical, emotional and professional needs and check in regularly to see how well you are meeting them. Know your own stress signs, how much stress enables you to stay motivated and thrive, and what are the indicators of overwhelm.

2. Self-care and kindness

Take time for yourself daily and engage in healthy activities that allow you to unwind and relax. Bring moments of stillness and mindfulness to a busy day. This might include simply pondering the source of water we drink and bath in, savouring your morning coffee or tea or lunch without your phone, taking time to get outdoors and walk at lunch. Find moments to laugh with friends or colleagues and partake in healthy activities that you enjoy.

3. Connect with others

Know the people who you can be yourself around who nourish you. Invest in them. Make time on a regular basis to stay connected. If work and study is consuming, schedule time in advance for connecting with people you enjoy being around. Laugh and have fun together.

4. Collect good colleagues

Do you have a network in which you can discuss your successes and learnings, failures and fears? Having trusted colleagues to debrief with, to offer support to and be supported by is recommended world-wide for ensuring professional satisfaction and perspective. Connect with colleagues who you admire and trust. These might be people you see in person or who you can call, it may be friends from university days. Seek opportunities to remain connected.

5. Normalise wellness

Take your breaks, eat well, sleep well, move well, enjoy your holidays and talk about it with your colleagues! Invite others to join you. Hold the same regard for the health and well-being needs of yourself and your colleagues as you would for your patients.

6. Have your own GP

With over 43,000 GPs in Australia, there is at least one out there just right for you. Know what you need from your doctor and find your best fit, someone who can offer you the medical care you would provide to your own patients, and avoid self-prescribing.

7. Honour your purpose.

What difference do you wish to make with your time? What gifts do you wish to share? There is no one else with your unique experience, gifts and passion. Allow yourself opportunity to explore what lights you up and give yourself permission to design your life around this.

Stephanie May has a background in community building and is founder of Doctor’s Wellness, a social enterprise contributing to a shift in normalising wellness in the medical workforce and society more broadly.

Doctor’s Wellness is running a series of weekend retreats around Australia facilitating opportunities for doctors to practice self-care, self-reflection and stay connected with colleagues.

To attend the next retreat in the Byron Bay Hinterland from 16-18 November 2018, go to www.doctorswellness.org