Overachieving and Wellbeing
I take wellbeing seriously. Sometimes the closest I get to balance is being extreme in all areas, but for the last year or two I have been trying to be intentional about taking care of myself so that I can better care for others. So I was thrilled to be accepted as part of the AAFP Physician Wellbeing program, and happy to have a chance to attend their annual wellbeing conference. And as soon as I arrived, (well, after I got over feeling like I didn’t fit in, but that’s another story) I hit the ground running. I found myself doubling up on the morning activities, like going for a run after the yoga group or after the mindfulness walking group. They gave us a notebook for recording our thoughts, and by the fifth day, I was over 90 pages in. I had plans to discuss with Greg and plans to journal about my thoughts and thoughts for the future.
We were swimming and biking and walking and eating well. They told us that we could skip sessions if that was what we needed for wellbeing, so we also took some afternoons to go watch the sunset on the beach and to have tea in a local tearoom. And we made the most of the large soaking tub in our room. I was learning a lot, keeping active, and resting well.
By the end of the conference, my left eye was no longer twitching (I had worked myself into a nervous tick before we left), and I had a lot to think about in terms of letting go of perfectionism and allowing myself to take time off. I was excited to apply new techniques, ordered a couple books, and downloaded a couple apps. I was ready to hit the ground running as a new and improved, more well me.
Well, I did okay for the first few weeks, partly because I was away from most of my work. I was staying at a friend’s house and relaxing most of the day except for when I was focusing on one project. I was exercising and resting and eating well and keeping balanced. Well, there were a couple long days when I forgot to take a break, but overall I was doing well. For me.
Then we returned to Malawi. I tried to be intentional about working fewer hours my first days back. And I did ok for a few days. But I’ve started to notice that I start out working 8 hour days and end up with 12 hour days, start out finishing work by dinner and after a few days I am still going at 11pm. My eye started twitching again.
I started trying to track my wellbeing, giving myself points for stretching and resting. This worked well for me, I’m good with numbers and goals and it’s easier for me to track my wellbeing or make time to be intentional about it. I still have days where I work longer than I plan or don’t rest enough, but it gives me an excuse to get myself back on track. I almost took a vacation day last week. I think I will get away for a vacation next week. We’ll see. But I’m trying. And one of these days I’m going to try to help others with their wellbeing.