Why Physicians Should Have Hobbies

Hobbies are Important for Physicians

Parkinson’s law says “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” For busy physicians this can translate into spending precious downtime on secondary work-related tasks — like reading scholarly journal articles — instead of on more restorative activities, such as pursuing a favorite hobby or playing a sport. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to ignore this subtle blurring of the lines until the damage is already done.

Hobbies help you strike a healthy work-life balance

Constantly viewing the world through the lens of medicine can create a distorted perspective. When every waking moment revolves around practicing medicine, the inevitable negative interactions and outcomes that accompany the profession can begin to influence your overall mood and outlook. It’s important to recognize this slippery slope before you begin to slide down it.

Perhaps a long-term patient dies on the same day your pet research project generates a major breakthrough that will ultimately save thousands of lives. How do you reconcile that type of emotional disparity?

Pursuing hobbies and recreational endeavors outside of practicing medicine enables you to experience other forms of growth, development and success. In turn, this helps remind you that those inevitable negative events occurring at work must be kept in perspective and are not representative of the balance of your life.

Life doesn’t end at retirement

Hobbies help foster new social connections, which are a key component of happiness and having a meaningful life. This is especially true as we age. One day you will retire from being a physician, so it’s important to cultivate hobbies and interests outside of medicine that you can continue to pursue throughout your golden years. Meeting new people, sharing passions and forming new bonds throughout your working years helps form good habits and paves the way toward a more active and healthy retirement.

The bottom line

Life inevitably has its ups and downs, successes and failures, each and every day. The key is to be able to look back upon each day and see that, on balance, life’s events are mostly positive or successful. For physicians — who commonly deal with illness, crises and death — keeping this strategy top-of-mind and making a conscious effort to create opportunities for growth and success outside of practicing medicine can be a career saver, not to mention a lifesaver.

Always remember: you are more than a physician. You are a multifaceted person who deserves a healthy, joyful, balanced life. Get out now and start cultivating fun, enjoyable hobbies to foster a healthy work-life balance — the ultimate measure of success.