Many physicians have been struggling following the results of this week’s national election. You are not alone if you have felt shocked, fearful or angry. It may be difficult to know how to make sense of the news in the midst of the demands on your work. Many of your patients may experience increasing discrimination based upon race, gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation. They need reassurance that they can still turn to you for excellent medical care. There is comfort in knowing that your commitment to medicine is longstanding and will remain constant despite any turmoil that lies ahead.
This is the time to double down on your personal health strategies. You need to be healthy if you are going to be of help to others. Good health always seems to always get back to the basics: Get restorative sleep. Turn off the news. Let your mind rest. Exercise. Do something active that you enjoy every day. You are made to move. Eat healthy foods. A mountain of chocolate will not fix our country’s problems. A healthy diet will provide the sustenance needed for the work that lies ahead. Connect with others. Discuss issues of shared concern with trusted colleagues. You are not alone in your grief.
Allow yourself to feel what you feel. Doctors are experts at squelching emotions so that we can attend to the needs of others. But we can’t bury emotions forever. Give yourself time to process your feelings. Fill your energy stores each day doing something you love. Spend time with your family, enjoy a hobby, read up on something of interest. Give yourself permission to laugh. Recharge.
Above all, be gentle with yourself. Self-care is the foundation for a healthy physician. You must take time for your own needs so that you are better able to deal with the needs of others. Your patients need a healthy physician now more than ever.