Make Time for Wellness During Conference Season

If you are like me and many of the physicians I know, you’re often attending conferences in spring and fall. Travel can be stressful and often we would rather be home with family, but there are still ways to create opportunities to recharge and improve our wellbeing while we’re away. In this article, I would like to offer a few simple things we can do to improve our mental health and wellness as we go through another conference season.

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Set Personal Learning Objectives and Goals

We all attend meetings with program learning objectives telling us what we will learn and how we will improve our practice. I find that conference objectives don’t always align with my greatest needs. Before you go, I encourage you to reflect on YOUR greatest needs and write them down as personal learning objectives and goals. It can be as simple as a list of things you would like to accomplish by the end of the meeting. Be sure to check them off as you go and include the next steps as to how these will be transitioned into practice back home.

Create Opportunities for Self-Care

I think of opportunities for self-care very broadly. Basically it can include anything that impacts our physical or mental well-being. Here are three simple suggestions for self-care at conferences:

  • Disconnect - Strategically turn off email, phone, social media, and any other intrusion when you can. Even if it is for 5-10 minutes at a time, that’s 5-10 minutes of mental rest you didn’t have before.

  • Sleep - Sleep can be hard to come by in our busy lives and at conferences. We learned in Episode 35 of the MIni-Podcast Sleep Hygiene! that it is possible to catch-up on sleep, and improve our health in the long term. Take a nap, go to bed early, or sleep in later than usual. Find some way to manage your sleep hygiene.

  • Exercise - Inject physical activity into your conference experience. For me, it’s yoga. I love that conferences more and more are offering events like yoga and 5ks. Even if they aren’t, consider taking a few hours to go for a hike or play the golf course on the property. I will often find a local yoga studio to practice, if the conference isn’t offering it.

No matter how you choose to care for yourself don’t be afraid to think of it broadly. There are a million ways we can improve our wellness while at conferences.

Connect with Colleagues and Friends

One of the items on top of your list should be to connect with colleagues and friends. Take this time to reconnect with colleagues from medical school, residency, fellowship, and other points in your career. Peer support is a powerful tool for improving and maintaining our well-being. There’s no better time to connect with others who understand the challenges we face regularly than during conference season.

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