Habits Require BoundariesMar 18, 2023
Oh boundaries, how did you sneak into this month’s theme on habits? Oh right….
Boundaries are a key part of building new habits, and undoing unhelpful habits.
When you don’t have good boundaries with yourself and others, you will repeatedly fail with trying to develop new habits, especially healthy new habits. Conversely, if you are trying to undo habits, such as eating junk food at night, not exercising, etc. you are likely lacking good boundaries, again with yourself and others.
What does this look like?
You have a busy day ahead, and don’t have time to eat breakfast before you leave the house, so you grab donuts in the break room and quickly eat one before clinic/rounds. You are trying to eat more healthily, but you also don’t want to be starving all morning. The morning runs long, patients keep talking, even though their time is up and you can’t get out of each room on time, and don’t get back to your desk until 12:45, and the first patient of the afternoon comes at 1. You brought a salad, but don’t have time to eat it (all that chewing!), so again, back to the break room and slam down another donut and a cup of coffee. The afternoon patients are just as chatty as the morning, and you finish late, spend too long answering patient messages in your inbox, and finally leave for the day ravenous. You get home, shove some cookies in your mouth before dinner, start the evening routine and after the kids are (finally) in bed, flop down on the cough with your phone and chips.
What does this have to do with boundaries? You don’t make and keep boundaries with yourself.
-Dedicating 10 minutes to eat a healthy breakfast, even on a crazy morning
-Redirecting chatty patients and setting an agenda based on the time constraints of your schedule
-Dedicating 20 minutes mid-day to eat, recharge, maybe go outside for a few deep breaths, so that you start the afternoon fresh
-Limiting responses to email messages with patients (because email does not replace clinical care)
-Feeding yourself healthy food on purpose (including the time to eat) to avoid raging hunger and snacking
-Self-care routine after kids are in bed so that you can really unwind, and not just numb with social media and food.
These default habits serve a purpose. They give your body and brain glucose (donuts are a great source of glucose), and when you don’t carve out time to feed yourself, your brain will zero in on DONUTS NOW! When you have worked so hard all day, your brain is tired and wants some dopamine, hence social media and chips! The way that you do things now meets your brain’s bare minimum requirements for sustenance. But if you don’t like the choices that your brain is making, if you don’t like the way that it is solving problems, ultimately it’s up to you to build in some guardrails around how you treat your body and brain. I’m harping on food here, but of course these patterns repeat themselves with all of our human needs: connection (social media makes your brain feel connected, but it’s not the same as talking to your best friend), sleep (alcohol seems like a great choice to unwind because it “helps” get to sleep, but really your sleep is worse), voiding (sure, you can “just hold it,” again, but um…..body’s got to pee).
But if you want to make a change, if you want to take better care of yourself, if you want to feel better about your choices, it’s time to be on to yourself about what your needs are, where you lack boundaries with yourself, and how you can start to change. It’s not about white-knuckling your way through it; it’s about learning to solve problems (need for food, need for connection, need for comfort, need for amusement) in a way that aligns better with what you want for yourself.
I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.
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