Finding My Center…Court
Gopi Astik, MD • January 27th, 2012
Nobody ever said that residency (or medicine in general) was easy. Still, I don’t think I expected so much of my time to be taken up by my job. Don’t get me wrong — I love what I do — but it’s not as easy as other occupations to “leave work at work.” As an intern, I was lost and confused many times about diagnosis and treatment plans for my patients. I’m not one to ask a lot of questions, so I took it upon myself to research these things after work. I usually made a to-do list of things that I did not know and had to look up and understand in the evening. I continued this habit throughout my residency. This was great for my learning but not so great for my personal life.
I was spending all day at work and then all evening thinking about (or preparing for) work. I didn’t have any time for me.
With the time commitment of the daily job for medical personnel, it is very important to find things to do outside of work to both relieve stress and give the mind some rest. I have been playing tennis as long as I can remember. I played competitively as a child and into high school and college. During medical school, I gave it up. I can’t say that it was only because I didn’t have time but also because I stopped enjoying it. I am a competitive person by nature and I think I was trying to challenge myself academically and put personal fitness on the back burner.
Near the end of my final year of residency, I started to notice the tennis courts at my apartment again. I started going out on the court by myself to practice my serves for 20 minutes here and there and I realized how much I missed playing. I found a group of residents who also play tennis and we started playing together as often as possible. We would meet at the park directly after work and play for 1-2 hours. Not only did this build camaraderie between coworkers but it was a great stress reliever and good exercise. I know not all people relieve stress with physical activity, but as recently reported in Journal Watch, even 15 minutes of low-volume activity can significantly lower mortality.
Playing tennis again was my way of “centering myself” and setting aside time for me again. I have seen positive improvements in both my attitude and productivity at work and at home. I’d love to hear what activities do the same for you.