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Self-Care Tips for a Challenging Time


It's no secret obstetrician-gynecologists can experience high rates of burnout and the current global pandemic has created even more challenges. Self-care is critically important and this article, provided by Pearl Insurance, ACOG's insurance provider for members, provides helpful wellness tips.

Face the Unexpected

COVID-19 has created a new lifestyle we never anticipated. As an ob/gyn, you're required to not only navigate standard patient care and industry changes, but you must keep up with current clinical information and COVID-19 updates as well. You may use in-patient and telehealth visits, or a hybrid of both. 

There are more personal challenges, too. Many face new work-from-home schedules, return-to-work policies, shelter-in-place mandates, sanitizing and cleaning routines, social distancing, lost incomes, school closures, partial reinstatements, virtual learning, and more. 

These adjustments have caused anxiety, depression, isolation, and sleep deprivation as never before. That's why—maybe more than ever—it's important to emphasize self-care for yourself and your patients. 

Prioritize Self-Care

In the middle of the changes, it's important to be intentional about self-care. Following are some tips to help maintain well-being:

  • Physical—don't neglect exercise and nutrition during the pandemic. Even if time is minimal, remember it's important to boost your immune system and ensure you remain physically fit. So, go outside when you can (walk, bike, garden, jog, or hike), get adequate sleep, plan healthy meals, and stay hydrated.
  • Intellectual—boost your well-being by trying something new. Though you may feel constantly challenged with work, seek an enjoyable hobby, like an online class you've been wanting to take or online visits to national parks and museums. There are many other options, too, like online games, scuba diving, and more.
  • Relational—even if you're limited in ways and time to socialize, there are many virtual 24/7 opportunities for connection. Even an introvert needs some connection to maintain well-being. Get creative with virtual gatherings, coffee times, online book clubs, peer discussions, and date nights. 
  • Emotional—sudden, multiple changes like what we've experienced during the pandemic can create anxiety and depression. That's why routine is critical. As much as possible, set a regular schedule for your home and office. Reduce negative inputs. This might mean unplugging from technology, limiting news, and setting social media boundaries. Journaling, yoga, meditation, music, and gratitude can also help keep emotions in check. Emotions may be tied to the spiritual as well, so don't overlook this aspect.
  • Mental—extra stress seems inevitable during a pandemic. That's why it's important to manage expectations to take care of your mental health. And, if needed, don't be afraid to ask for help from an understanding peer, trusted advisor, or respected therapist. Sometimes getting an objective opinion is all that's needed to set you on a more joyful path. 

Even a small change to your outlook can help reduce stress and maintain well-being.  Remember, making self-care a priority is not self-indulgent; instead, it can make you a healthier, more productive physician who is less susceptible to burnout.

The purpose of this article is to provide information, rather than advice or opinion. It is accurate to the best of the author’s knowledge as of the publication date. Accordingly, this article should not be viewed as a substitute for the guidance and recommendations of a retained professional. Any references to external websites are provided solely for convenience. The ACOG Member Insurance Program disclaims any responsibility with respect to such websites.