There is no doubt that residency is one of the busiest times in your life. Long hours and enormous work loads usually means eating right and exercising falls by the wayside. But before you hang up your gym bag for the next four years consider these fast fixes for a healthier lifestyle, even during these rigorous years.
1. Commit to 30 minutes of exercise every day.
Too often we think of going to the gym as a process that takes up hours in our day. Combine the travel time to and from with the hour-long class or hour you spend on a machine. The truth of the matter is, 30 minutes of exercise can have a positive impact on your metabolism, energy level, and alertness throughout the day. If your apartment community has a gym onsite, like Spring Apartments does, you can eliminate the travel time to and from the gym. Do a high-intensity interval workout, thirty minutes of cardio, or even yoga or Pilates and you can enjoy the benefits of daily exercise without the excessive time commitment.
2. Failure to plan is planning to fail.
When residents have a chance to eat, they usually have to eat something quickly. The temptation is to grab something easy to eat, but not necessarily healthy. Before you resign yourself to years of ice cream sandwiches and diet soda, use an hour to plan your meals for the week. Cook portions of lean protein and pack them with pre-cut vegetables or salad mixes. Prepare pasta dishes that can be eaten cold or reheated and pack them in individual portions that make them easy to grab and go before a shift. There are several meal planning websites that help you create easy on-the-go meals that are delicious, nutritious, and require minimal preparation only one day of the week.
3. Take 5.
Studies have shown that meditation decreases muscle tension, relaxes the mind, and has effects on how the subjects perceived the world around them. While the idea of quieting the mind seems absurd for residents, even taking five minutes to sit in a quiet place can affect your clarity of mind and decision making ability. For those who have never meditated before or who feel that meditation requires a quiet room and years of practice, there are several free meditation apps that guide you through the process allowing even beginners to achieve a more peaceful state of mind in less than ten minutes.
4. Get outside.
While it is no secret that the Vitamin D that results from sunlight exposure can elevate mode and improve sleep, going outside can also help reset your circadian rhythm when you are transitioning between day and night shifts. This is especially important when you are working long hours, sometimes without ever seeing the light of day. Spending as few as ten minutes outside helps your body produce the Vitamin D it needs. Meditate outdoors and you get double the health benefits in half of the time.
It is ironic that those who are training to become healers often take their own health for granted. However, better health during residency is not as difficult or time consuming as you may think. Even a few minutes every day can spent on your health have a profound impact on your ability as a physician.