Post-residency recovery

by Christina on July 14, 2014

It is taking me some time to recover from residency. I’ve been out for almost two weeks now and am slowly beginning to see parts of myself return.

The first few days it was challenging to have such little structure. For the past 8 years I have been constantly busy with studying, assignments, night shifts, calls, back-up, emails and projects. There was always something to distract me. That suddenly all stopped July 1st.

Then my friend sent me this article on the importance of doing nothing.

“Slacking off and setting aside regular periods of ‘doing nothing’ may be the best thing we can do to induce states of mind that nurture our imagination and improve our mental health…

We associate it with irresponsibility, wasting our life. Most of us feel guilty if we don’t have something to do. On the other hand we get a buzz when we feel really busy. Distraction-inducing behaviours like constantly checking email stimulate the brain to shoot dopamine into the bloodstream giving us a rush that can make stopping so much harder…

The danger is we may lose our connections, not just with one another but with ourselves. If we don’t allow ourselves periods of uninterrupted, freely associated thought then personal growth, insight and creativity are less likely to emerge….

Our frenetic activities in cyberspace – a world of multitasking and hyperactivity – help us to delude ourselves that we are productive. The reality is that social media is very reactive but not very original. It contracts creativity and can impact mental health.”

Wow. Yes. Now that I am out of it I can see even more clearly how the long medical path can really suck the creativity out of us — sleep deprivation, stress, constant busy-ness, protocol-driven practices, lack of creative expression makes it really hard to keep those parts of us alive.

So in this post-residency recovery period I am working on getting my creativity back. A few specific steps to help foster this include:

  • Sleeping. I have been sleeping a lot in residency recovery/baby growing mode, but I would like to start getting up earlier and using the early morning hours for some reading and writing pre-yoga practice.
  • Baths. I have restarted my nightly bath ritual. Warm bath with epsom salts as an end to the day.
  • Getting space organized. I can think much more clearly and creatively if my desk and office space is uncluttered.
  • Vision board. For me this is a tack board with goals and inspiration that I re-hung up by my desk.
  • Carry blank notebook around. My sister recommended this and I started doing it this week. It’s helpful for the random ideas that come while waiting for things.
  • Setting up creativity corner. This is a small corner of our home currently with art supplies and a keyboard. I haven’t used it yet but at least the potential space is there.

Please share any other ideas!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily July 15, 2014 at 10:03 am

There has always been something about hand writing and sending mail to family and friends that I enjoy. Bonus points for putting together a care package for someone else. Even on a tight student budget I try to send my bestie who lives in Alaska little things that remind me of her, like a new favorite tea, cozy sweater I find at Salvation Army, a treat from trader joes. I even enjoy sending people thank you notes… It’s almost like a lost art but feels so satisfying to do. The best way for me to do this on a busy schedule is to have a small box with everything ready to do.. Stamps, note cards, thank yous, envelopes, addresses on small slips of paper. I keep the tiny box right near my bed for when I’m feeling inspired to write.

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Christina July 24, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Hey Emily,
YES that is such a great point! There is definitely something satisfying about writing a hand written note, especially these days when we rarely do it. I love the idea of keeping a box near the bed for whenever inspiration comes to reach out to someone we love.

Christina

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Kimberly Palmer July 18, 2014 at 2:25 pm

yay, I am so glad you are taking my blank notebook advice!!!

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Christina July 24, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Yes I love it!

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Chris Palmer July 18, 2014 at 9:33 pm

I really like the whole post, and particularly the following sentence: “The long medical path can really suck the creativity out of us — sleep deprivation, stress, constant busy-ness, protocol-driven practices, lack of creative expression makes it really hard to keep those parts of us alive.”
Another idea (to add to the excellent ones you listed) is to create a “personal mission statement” that vividly describes the life you want to lead and your life goals, and then design your life around it rather than around other people’s agendas.

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Christina July 24, 2014 at 10:26 pm

Yes so true! I recently came across an old draft of a personal mission statement and was just thinking about how I want to update it, especially now before the arrival of our new baby and all the challenges that will bring.

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Chris Palmer July 25, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Excellent idea!

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