Prioritizing Self-Care: Meeting Your Own Needs First

Posted on February 14, 2024 by Derek Bell, MS, CWP

Updated February 14, 2024

Asian female doctor taking notes and on computer in office cool blue brushstrokePrioritizing self-care helps manage stress, prevent burnout and maintain their mental and emotional well-being. Self- care is not a luxury, but a necessity. This article will explore why and how medical professionals should meet their own needs first.

The dilemma

The unique challenges and stressors faced by clinicians are often overlooked and underestimated. The medical profession is not only physically demanding but also emotionally and mentally draining. Clinicians are constantly under pressure to provide the best possible care for their patients, often working long hours and dealing with life-and-death situations on a daily basis.

Challenges include, but are not limited to:

  • Constant exposure to human suffering and tragedy.

  • Being under scrutiny and facing high performance expectations from patients, colleagues and the healthcare system.

  • A demanding profession with little time for themselves and their well-being, including spending time with friends and loved ones, hobbies and self care.

Moreover, the stigma around seeking help and self-care in the medical community can further exacerbate these challenges.

These issues create a need and perception that clinicians are often seen as invincible. They are expected to take on these stressors and put the needs of others above their own.

By prioritizing self-care and seeking help when needed, clinicians can better cope with the demands of their profession and ultimately provide better care for their patients.

Benefits of meeting your own needs first

Improved Well-Being: Meeting their own needs helps clinicians maintain physical and mental health, reducing the risk of burnout, stress and mental health issues.
Better Patient Care: Physically and mentally well-rested clinicians are more capable of providing high-quality, compassionate patient care.
Longevity in the Profession: Self-care practices enable clinicians to extend their careers and continue making a positive impact in healthcare.
Role Modeling: Prioritizing self-care sets an example for colleagues and trainees, promoting a culture of well- being in healthcare.
Personal Fulfillment: Self-care contributes to a sense of personal fulfillment and satisfaction in their careers.
Error Reduction:
Well-rested clinicians are less likely to make medical errors that could harm patients, improving overall patient safety.

Strategies for clinicians to prioritize self-care

  1. Recognize Signs of Burnout: Be aware of the signs of burnout, such as fatigue, emotional exhaustion and reduced job satisfaction.

  2. Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries in your work-life balance, including setting limits on working hours and responsibilities.

  3. Seek Professional Help: Don't hesitate to seek assistance from mental health professionals if you're experiencing stress, anxiety or depression. Your VITAL WorkLife Well-Being Resources are here anytime—day or night.

  4. Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Maintain a healthy lifestyle through regular movement, balanced nutrition and adequate sleep.

  5. Stress Management: Learn and practice stress management techniques, such as meditation, mindfulness or relaxation exercises.

  6. Mindfulness and Self-Compassion: Incorporate mindfulness and self-compassion practices into your daily routine to reduce stress and improve resilience.

  7. Increase and value relationships: Social relationships, including the importance of family relationships and peers can help physicians cope with and manage stress, anxiety and feelings of isolation.

We Can Help

When you learn how to and make it a priority to meet your own needs first, you can be a better person to your loved ones, your patients and most importantly—to yourself. VITAL WorkLife is your trusted guide for learning to prioritize yourself. Peer Coaching is just one avenue to gain insights and advice from fellow medical professionals.

For members of our Well-Being Resources, call 877.731.3949 to speak with one of our Well-Being Coordinators, anytime—day or night.

Interested in learning more?

Contact Us


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