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Healthy habits advice for physicians: A curated list for 2019


Life is hectic. Physicians are so caught up in work and other demands that many don’t make time to care for themselves. Mental and physical health and wellness is a growing concern in the medical profession, with many reporting feeling exhausted and burned out.

So why not start 2019 off with the intention to recommit to self-care?

Here are five resources (most of them online) to kick-start your journey to feeling better and making positive personal and professional changes.

Physicians for Physicians (newsletter)

Imagine if you had time to meet up with fellow physicians regularly to talk through shared problems and ask for advice. Well, Physicians for Physicians may be just the thing. Created by a couple who are both physicians, it’s a free weekly newsletter focused on physician well-being.

Colin and Sara Taylor launched it to provide guidance and support to their colleagues to help them live their best lives. Each week offers a new topic to think about, plus a curated list of articles and podcasts related to physician wellness.

To help you turn good intentions into action, the couple have written a workbook called The Busy Physician’s Guide to Living Your Best Life. Coming soon are two other workbooks, The Opposite of Burnout Isn’t Happiness and Coping With Stress: A Guide for Medical Spouses.

Every Doctor: Healthier Doctors = Healthier Patients (book)

The self-help shelves are full of advice, but how much of it comes from someone who truly understands the day-to-day pressures of a physician? Every Doctor: Healthier Doctors = Healthier Patients is a new book by Dr. Michael Kidd, chair of the University of Toronto’s Department of Family and Community Medicine; and Dr. Leanne Rowe, one of Australia’s most authoritative speakers on physician health.

According to Dr. Kidd: “[The book] provides advice on how doctors can look after their own physical and mental well-being. If we’re not healthy as doctors, we’re less able to be as effective as we can with patients.” The authors explore ways for all medical professionals to rediscover joy in medicine and work with their colleagues to create a healthier medical culture.

CMA National Physician Health Survey (report)

In 2017, the Canadian Medical Association collected data from 3,000 physicians and residents for the CMA National Physician Health Survey. The survey, the most up-to-date national data on Canadian physician health, provides a deeper understanding of the factors affecting physician health and wellness.

While the CMA encourages organizations, researchers and educators to use the report’s findings to design more effective physician health initiatives, it is also a useful resource for the individual physician interested in better understanding his or her own challenges. And understanding is the key to making change.

Healthy Debate (newsletter)

Run by an editorial team that includes both doctors and patients, Healthy Debate is a fascinating ongoing conversation about Canada’s healthcare system. The articles and opinion pieces are well written and often tackle physician health and wellness issues. Type in key words like “healthy physicians” or “physician burnout” for insight and leads on where to go for help.

Early in 2019, in anticipation of the vote for the CMA’s next president, Healthy Debate asked each of the four candidates the same question: “There is increasing concern about physician burnout. How would you help the physician community?” The wide-ranging answers they received provide much food for thought.

“Creating Healthy Habits” (in NIH News in Health)

Sometimes you just want a few simple ideas to jump-start the journey to a healthier outlook and lifestyle. The National Institutes of Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offers a simple five-point plan for anyone looking to adopt healthier habits. You begin by understanding your unhealthy habits, then work from there to disrupt the patterns that are harming your physical or mental health. It’s simple advice that’s easy to remember and implement.

We know that the demands on your time won’t go away. But taking the time for yourself to make positive changes could help you create and sustain a healthy lifestyle.