Maximizing Personal Wellness During Residency

February 28, 2023

Hossny Alaws, MD, PGY-2 Internal Medicine resident

Being a resident is one of the most stressful experiences imaginable. Residents work long hours and push the envelope every day with their work ethic, thinking power, resilience and ability to cope with stress. Each and every one of us has his or her ways of coping with the difficulties of this job. I also wanted to share some of my own wellness tips below.

  1. Healthy body = healthy mind
    I like exercising as much as possible. Going to the gym can be difficult, especially with a hectic residency schedule. However, once you start working out regularly, it becomes a form of therapy and an addiction at the same time. I commit to exercising by going straight after work. If my workday ends at 5 p.m. for example, I will grab a snack and a cup of coffee around 4 p.m. so I’m ready for a good gym session by 5 p.m. I will then head to the gym straight after work (think of it as an extension of your workday). Find out what works for you and try to get some form of physical activity. It’s great for clearing the mind and helping you feel good about yourself. Trust me!
  1. Be present
    One of my favorite books is “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle (I suggest you read it or get it on audiobook). Being present means engaging your concentration/conscious mind with the present moment instead of dwelling on different thoughts or memories. When you’re worrying about some future event that hasn’t happened yet (and imagining different scenarios of how it will play out, none of which may be realistic) or dwelling on some stressful past memory, STOP thinking and just be. Direct your consciousness to the present moment, stop and smell the roses, listen to that cricket chirping outside or bird singing, listen to the traffic of the cars, feel the air on your skin, and listen to the hum of the fridge and the noises of people around you. You will instantly feel light and content. Practice this as much as possible, and the stressors of everyday life will slowly start to melt away.
  1. Connect with family and friends
    Humans are social animals. By nature, we crave human touch and social interactions, particularly with those we care about. Pick up the phone and call your parent, brother, uncle, boyfriend or old friend you haven’t seen in years. A healthy social life means a healthy psyche. Also, you get to listen to your non-medical friend complain about their CHILL job (and secretly feel better than them). Whatever you do, stay in touch with the people you care about.
  1. Find activities you like and do them
    Cooking, listening to history podcasts, playing video games and hiking are examples of activities that I enjoy. I often find myself exhausted after a long day at the hospital. Doing an activity that I enjoy after a stressful day can be therapeutic.
    One of my favorite things to do on a particularly stressful day at the hospital is to get ice cream from the physicians’ lounge. I’m so grateful that residents get access to the physician’s lounge, a privilege not afforded in many other places. The FREE ice cream selection down there is phenomenal. I will usually grab one of my co-residents and get a refreshing ice cream treat when things get super stressful. My favorite is the vanilla ice cream sandwich (I’m blanking out on the name, but it has yellow wrapping…Mmm). It’s also only 200 calories… what a treat.

You have worked so hard to get here, accomplished so much and deserve to feel good and thrive. So take care of yourself every day as much as possible, whether it’s enjoying that ice cream from the physicians’ lounge, playing a video game, talking to a loved one or just enjoying the moment.

Stay well and have fun at residency!

Learn more about the Internal Medicine residency program at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.