Recipe for Resilience

Made with Four Simple Ingredients.

By Dr. Neha Sharma

The definition of resilience is individual bound and the road to being resilient is labyrinthine. I am still a fairly new physician. I have been meandering the maze of medicine for about three years. I am happy to report that I am still smiling. My smile does not necessarily translate into satisfaction. It actually reflects resilience. The recipe behind my buoyant attitude contains four simple ingredients: positivity, gratitude, self care and restraint.

Positivity — I was not always a positive person. Two months after receiving my acceptance letter for medical school, I was given the diagnosis of cancer. I battled cancer for the first two years of medical school while balancing the tedious workload of my degree. Ultimately I survived both. The experience, however, served as a blessing in disguise and compelled me to employ a positive outlook towards life. I have realized that in positivity, there is power. The power to overcome all obstacles. Now, whenever I face a stressful situation I stay positive and the approach provides me clarity and strength. A positive perspective is the foundation of resiliency.

Gratitude — Some days are more stressful than others. However, we should never let work related stress induce anguish in our daily lives. What I find particularly alarming is that physicians witness the delicacies of life and death everyday and yet physicians are some of the unhappiest people I have ever met. Despite the daily reminder from their patients, physicians often forget how short and unpredictable life is. I strongly urge everyone to be thankful everyday and dismiss trivial issues. Make sure to cherish that cup of coffee, revel in the smiles of your loved ones, and appreciate the sparkling serenity of every sunset.

Self care — Our daily life is dedicated to taking care of others. In the midst of it all, we often forget to take care of ourselves. It is extremely important to engage in self care on a routine basis. Self care involves meditation, relaxation, pursuing hobbies and getting enough sleep. Meditation and relaxation come in many forms. Whether it’s reading a book, taking a stroll, doing yoga or listening to music, meditation can help alleviate stress and foster rejuvenation. I find my meditation in writing and traveling. It provides me an outlet away from my hectic work life and makes me resilient.

Restraint — Life is busy but it is extremely important to take a break from time to time. It is crucial to recognize your limits and say no. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, take a day off. If you are feeling under the weather, stay home without fearing the scheduling shamble or the coverage chaos. Respite when needed, should not result in guilt. Physicians need to acknowledge that they are humans after all. Restraint results in faster recovery and results in resilience.

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