We’ve all been there. We’ve all heard it. Residents are facing astounding rates of burnout but fret not, the cure is here… Wellness Modules! Resiliency training! Yoga! Ok, ok, yes these do have a place but it’s not in this blog. Here are some PRACTICAL tips (at least in my personal opinion) to keep you healthy and happy during the toughest few years of your education.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Literally.
Use a meal prep service!! Yes we are all capable of cooking but WHY WOULD YOU? Unless cooking brings you joy (and I know there are a few of you weirdos out there…), you can spend those hard earned and hefty On-Call Stipend Dollars on PREPARED food. Its all homemade…by someone else…and delivered to your door step. If you added up all the time you’re spending on planning lunches and dinners, getting groceries, cooking food and doing dishes, you’d be really good at math, and you’d also notice the huge time suck that is the world of feeding yourself. There are tons of meal services in Alberta to meet your breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack needs. For extreme simplicity go fully prepared. If you still want to feel like you worked for it, but not really, go with a non-prepared option like Hello Fresh, Good Food or Chef’s Plate. It really doesn’t get much easier. And I promise you its better than a Good Earth Chicken Pot Pie (or whatever grub you’re finding at the local cafeteria these days).
Calgary & Edmonton
Sending Out An SOS… Kit
There are few things that can make you feel human walking out of the call room at 5:47 a.m. (granted you even made it there), but a fresh pair of underwear is one of them. Next is a freshly minted mouth of toothpaste and a deodorized underarm. I suggest trying to keep your “on-call bag” stocked with at least a tooth brush, toothpaste, deodorant, and a fresh pair of undergarments. But keep it spicy, add something fun I keep some Advil and a portable phone charger in mine, super fun!
Take A Nap, or a Lap
Okay if you can take a nap, or better yet actually sleep while on call, that is ideal. But we know that isn’t always possible. I have two tips, and one of them is actually *evidence-based*. Its this: lie in bed. Lying in bed, even if you’re not asleep, is still energizing. Although your brain doesn’t get the break it deserves, your body does—and that’s something! The post-page rage can be really tough to overcome and you might just be lying there awake and angry, but REST-assured, you’re still getting some rejuvenation. Alternatively, if its 2 a.m. and you’re sprinting up and down the halls ticking consults off your list, take a LAP. Outdoors. Go outside for literally two minutes, get some fresh air and come back feeling like a new resident! Or at least better than you did two minutes before.
Make Fitness Easy Again
If you can lead your own fitness program, a) you’re a hero and b) you’ll benefit from the cheapest gym membership around—$50 a month through the CMA. But if you’re like the rest of us and planning a workout feels like writing a 14-page IM consult, there is also a solution for that: outsource your fitness. For the lowest-cost option, aka 0$, find yourself a free online fitness app/website that you can do at home with no equipment. The KEY is that it should be one where the instructor does it with you—all you have to do is follow along (here’s a local one for example: Limbus Movement). If you want to take it up a notch ($$), purchase yourself some form of subscription-based at-home workout device (e.g. Peloton, Mirror, Bike Trainer etc). It can be a bit more fun to hop on a piece of equipment that’s connected to an online community than it is to jump around by yourself in your basement…but not that much more fun. Lastly, if you want to spend ($$$) my personal suggestion is to join a fitness/recreation/activity/club/gym/society or whatever you want to call it. Something where you sign up for a class, you show up, the leader tells you what to do and you leave. You might make friends, you might not but you get in and get out, and get it done. And before you say it, yes there ARE options for those of you who finish work after 6 or 7 p.m. (e.g. Barracks Fitness for the Cowtowners or snap fitness in Edmonton). And if you finish at 9 p.m. well then you can hop on your at-home fitness machine (or sleep, whichever seems more beneficial at the time).
Don’t Hate, Caffeinate
I am not suggesting you take up caffeination. But if you’re already into coffee, get yourself a quality coffee machine/coffee-making medium (for you pour-over folk). What’s a quality coffee machine you ask? It depends on the person of course. Perhaps for you, the most important aspect is efficiency; you want your coffee machine pre-programmed to be hot and ready the moment you exit the bedroom. Then get the one that does that. For me, I am what one might refer to as a ‘coffee snob’ and so I went all out and invested my PGY1 salary in a coffee machine. To each their own, but make the first part of your morning special. After all, you’ve probably got a long day ahead. Bonus points if you can spare thee minutes to actually SIT and drink your coffee before you leave the house. Insert “tea pot” or “tea maker” if that’s your thing.
Drink Up, Kid.
Nothing says amateur hour like getting an AKI because you didn’t drink any water on your 24-hour call shift. A great rule of thumb is to never have a lower urine output than your sickest patient. If you haven’t peed since you left your house 12 hours ago, chances are your kidneys are crying, but not really because they don’t have any fluid. Drink water on your shift, there are FREE water machines on every ward. How good is that soft crushed ice? So good. Try it. Bring your own water bottle if you’re really prepared and environmentally conscious.
Free Feels Good
Did you know that every month PARA runs contests where you can win great prizes? Make sure you stay up-to-date on PARA’s community and wellness events and Instagram contest. I’ve personally won a $50 gas gift card AND a $50 bakery gift card. All you have to do is participate. Check the website and the most recent PARAScope for the current events and promos.
TREAT YO SELF, and others.
Lastly, treat yourself on call. You’re working hard, don’t feel bad about stopping by the vending machine every once in a while! I would highly recommend the Neon Worms. And if you really want to feel good, buy your colleague some too.
Stay sane out there friends, we’re all in this together!