Let’s talk about a topic that I feel is sometimes hard to talk about especially in the field of medicine where one may feel a lot of pressure. It’s hard to say you need time or a vacation when everyone else around you seem to be able to do it all, but let me tell you—it’s okay to take breaks. You are human, and it’s needed for your mental health and overall health.
I’ll share my personal story. I have loved intern year so far. It has been a great learning experience, and I absolutely love taking care of my patients. But that’s not to say it’s not tough. I was getting a lot of my busier rotations out of the way in the fall time. Some may argue that’s a great thing during times of COVID. But even during times of COVID, it can be completely exhausting and draining especially when you feel like you can’t take a break or go on a vacation. I felt guilty as if I shouldn’t because I have to be careful so I’m protecting my family, and I have to be present all the time for my patients and for my learning.
Guess what? You have to take of yourself too. I didn’t want to get right back on the “burnout train.” I needed to take a break. Sometimes, you just have to take the bait when it’s there. A lovely friend of mine was doing an away rotation in a city only a few hours from where I live. She actually lives hours away in a state much further away, so I thought this would be a perfect time to visit with her and take the much-needed break I was searching for.
Only a little roadblock—I’m on inpatient medicine wards. Fortunately, I was able to stack 2 of my 4 days off. The first long stretch was rough but so worth it! I got to visit with my friend, and we spent the majority of our time outdoors at parks, trails, and the city garden. It was beautiful and refreshing! I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel guilty—especially on the drive up there. But we practiced physical distancing from others and #maskedup.
Bottom line—I was glad I took the opportunity to take care of my health. Breaks are needed. They are good, and it was super heartwarming to see a great friend. It’s okay to take time for yourself—it’s possible to do it safely and mindfully!