Why Physicians Should Maintain their Hobbies

Doctors often talk about wanting a good work/life balance, but this can be harder to achieve, especially in the early years of practicing medicine. Hobbies and extracurricular activities can help, and they can also go a long way to alleviating fatigue and overcoming physician burnout.

In the demanding world of healthcare it can be challenging for physicians to find time for a hobby. We all know what we should do but it is hard to find the time when so much is expected of us. Doctors expect a lot of themselves and others expect a lot of them as well.

But there is only so much practitioners can give, and it is important to do things for yourself. Everyone needs an outlet.

Finding healthy ways to unwind has been proven to be a great stress reliever. Interests outside of hospital or practice can teach critical skills that make us better leaders and better colleagues. Also, learning a new skill can give you the boost of confidence and encouragement you need in stressful times.  

A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology found that creative activity has both indirect effects and direct effects on performance-related outcomes.

Many hobbies encourage us to interact with people outside work and engage in social environments that are not related to the field of medicine. This can have a positive impact on separating work life and home life.

Writing and journaling can be an excellent way to process what you have encountered or struggled with in clinic, and can help you gain clarity and release the frustrations of the day. Blogging can be very therapeutic for physicians looking to build community with others in healthcare by sharing opinions, medical innovations, offering stimulating discussions, and sharing clinical and patient experience content.

Exercising, sports activities, gardening, golf and spending time with friends and family are all good ways of creating “switching off” neuropathways in the brain and an escape from your busy professional life.

Keeping up hobbies and interests can be a vital way to relax and also stay focused in your medical practice. It can be as simple as a daily stroll, and as involved as taking up painting. Just ask comedian, author and NHS anaesthetist Ed Patrick. He is even quoted as saying stand-up makes him a better medic.

Maintain hobbies that are enjoyable and de-stressing, not just another task on your to-do list.

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