Ideally, healthcare professionals model healthy habits. In doing so, they can inspire others and influence the health of communities.
As healthcare professionals, our commitment to giving excellent care extends beyond the walls of clinics and hospitals. In addition to diagnosing and treating illnesses, we have a unique opportunity to promote overall well-being by encouraging the development of good daily habits in ourselves, our trainees, and our patients. By setting a positive example and empowering our trainees and patients to make healthier choices, we can make a lasting impact on their lives. There are some small steps we can take to model this behavior and encourage it in others.
We often find ourselves so engrossed in caring for others that we neglect our own well-being. We likely don’t even notice the lack of attention we give ourselves, as we have focused for so long and so intensely on taking care of others. However, to effectively guide others toward healthy habits, it’s crucial for us to prioritize self-care. Here are some essential practices to consider:
1. Establish a balanced routine
Create a daily schedule that allows for adequate sleep, healthy habits, family time, and personal time. Prioritize activities that rejuvenate your mind and body. Schedule this time in and don’t allow yourself to “skip” this planned time.
2. Practice mindfulness
Engage in mindfulness exercises, like meditation or deep breathing, to reduce stress and increase self-awareness. This will enhance your ability to connect with others on a deeper level and has been shown to have long-lasting health benefits.
3. Seek support
Build a network of supportive colleagues and mentors. Regularly discuss challenges, seek guidance, and promote a culture of well-being. Social support is one of the primary protective factors in overall well-being.
Promote healthy lifestyles
Healthcare professionals play a pivotal role in guiding others toward healthier lifestyles. By fostering positive daily habits, we can empower all to take control of their health and well-being. Here are some practical strategies to consider:
1. Exercise regularly
Physical activity and a regular exercise routine of any time has long-term benefits to our overall functioning. Make weekly commitments to yourself to engage in physical exercise and activity.
2. Focus on a healthy diet
Make nutrition-focused eating a priority for yourself and others. Recommend portion control, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, and a reduction in processed foods, sugars, and unhealthy fats.
3. Emphasize the importance of sleep
For ourselves and others, a healthy sleep routine is crucial. The value of sufficient sleep for overall health can’t be overstated. Share strategies for improving sleep hygiene and encourage the development of consistent sleep patterns. There are many apps available to monitor sleep and ensure you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Turn the lights down before bed and put your phone down an hour or two before bed.
Foster mental and emotional well-being
Good daily habits extend beyond physical health; mental and emotional well-being are equally important. We can guide ourselves and others toward practices that promote a positive mindset. Consider the following:
1. Encourage social connections
Emphasize the significance of nurturing supportive relationships and engaging in social activities. Get engaged in community groups or clubs that align with your interests or hobbies.
2. Advocate for stress management techniques
Educate others on stress management techniques, such as relaxation exercises, journaling, or engaging in hobbies that bring joy and promote mental well-being. Make it a point to incorporate these activities into your week.
3. Schedule preventive care
Promote and schedule our own regular health check-ups, screenings, and vaccinations. Make it a habit to get these appointments on the schedule so that we ensure we don’t miss our important and regularly scheduled check-ups.
We have a unique opportunity to impact our own lives and the lives of others positively. By cultivating our own good habits and advocating for their development in patients, trainees, and colleagues, we can promote a culture of wellness. A healthy habit takes at least six weeks of consistency to form, so make sure you’re starting small, setting reasonable goals, and being consistent. Prioritizing self-care, encouraging healthy lifestyles, and fostering mental and emotional well-being are essential steps towards achieving this goal. Let us lead by example, inspire change, and empower ourselves and others to embrace a healthier, happier future.
This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.