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Begin Your Journey: Expert discusses the importance of taking care of yourself

Opinion
Video

“Our identity is not just about a title; it's not just about that role. We are much bigger than that,” says Diana Londoño, MD.

In this installment of “Begin Your Journey,” urologist Diana Londoño, MD, talks with host Scott A. MacDiarmid, MD, FRCPSC, about the importance of taking care of yourself. Londoño is a urologic oncology surgeon and assistant clinical professor in the department of surgery at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California. MacDiarmid is a urologist with Alliance Urology Specialists in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Transcription:

MacDiarmid: When I was writing my book, I'd learned from the clinical psychologists [that] in social sciences, it's pretty well documented and studied that to be fulfilled, they feel you should be pretty well grounded in 3, 4, but even 4 or 5 of the main domains: work, family, friends, community, and then health (spiritual, physical, and mental). And I think physicians, at least I found myself, are so overwhelmed by our job, we actually are not necessarily well grounded, or have depth in the other domains. And we often even sacrifice them, and we have to delay gratification; it goes on for decades. And then what happens when you put your meaning and purpose, meaning your job, vs multiple domains, and your job goes south? I mean, our job is pretty stressful. I think we really need to almost put our life on a calendar and say, "You must put that same loving physician, self, or person you're being into those other domains." Have you found that as well? Were you out of balance? Was it mainly work? Have you given more emphasis on those other domains?

Londoño: Yes, absolutely. I agree 100%. The first things are first, which are your basic needs. We neglect those. How many physicians don't sleep well and don't prioritize sleep? [Many physicians] eat terrible. If it was a Maserati or Ferrari, you're not going to put cheap gas in that car; you're going to use the best gas. But when it's ourselves, we don't do the same love and care that you do for a fancy car. So treat yourself like that fancy car you always wanted or you that have. What are you eating? What are you not only putting into your body, but into your mind? What are you consuming? TV that is all about anger, or things that are going to lift your spirits? Consume things, physically, mentally, and spiritually, that are going to bring that "why," that purpose, that joy. Hobbies that give you a purpose, things that wake you up in the morning that gives you a sense of purpose. Because it's not just our 1 title and ego as a physician, because you're correct. When that gets taken away, then we truly are in a spiritual crisis, a midlife crisis, whatever. We lose our identity. But our identity is not just about a title; it's not just about that role. We are much bigger than that. And I think when we start realizing that a little better that we have multifaceted roles, we can put more eggs in those baskets, so that things are balanced, so that you can find joy, whether it's your church or your kids or your hobbies or the time for you to exercise, you balance it so that when one is not as balanced, you don't lose everything and you don't lose your identity and go into depression or impostor syndrome. There's so much stuff you could do. We just have to step back a little bit and get a little bit of a bird's eye view.

This transcript was edited for clarity.

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