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New Year, New Me…

By Min Jung Park, MD, MMSc

Cliché. We have heard it many times. I wish I could come up with something spectacular I can suggest for the hand surgery community to achieve in 2020, but I would like to re-emphasize something that has resonated with the greater physician community in recent years: self-care.

Self-care can mean a lot of things, but ultimately, it should be the habit or sustainable lifestyle that enables us to be the best we can be and the happiest we can be. It really could be doing yoga once in a while or meditating whenever your schedule allows you to, but ultimately, it has to be something sustainable, meaningful, and actually beneficial to the overall well-being.

Self-care and self-indulgence are very different things. Like many of us, the first few years of practice, I was over-eager to get my practice off the ground, taking on everything that came my way. After around two years of backbreaking pace of work that I loved so much, I really had to look back and make some changes—something that could change my life for better.

I had no clue what that could be. So I started with something simple. I started running. I mean, running is good for your health, right? When I started I could barely run 5k. But as I was getting into it, I realized there are so many things that I didn’t know about running. I thought marathons are the ultimate distance, but was quickly introduced to the term “ultra-marathons.” Then people started whispering in my ears things like “Boston qualification,” “6-world majors,” “sub-3 hour marathon,” etc., etc.

I heard one of my mentors during my training telling me that every orthopedic surgeon needs an expensive hobby, and I’m sure we all chuckled and acknowledged with some underlying understanding that we need it to stay sane while handing the everyday stress of our job. I felt like I found my “expensive” hobby. Sure, running is sort of free—we just need a pair of sneakers and decent running outfit. But it could get expensive as you start learning about all the different shoes, outfits, watches, coaches, international marathons, etc, etc. But I’m sure it’s cheaper than going out, drinking, or other far more expensive habits that can adversely affect your health and overall well-being.

Running essentially filled the void in my life that I needed. I felt like I achieved my balance. I found myself making sure I took time to better take care of myself both mentally and physically so that I can train, race, and show up to the rest of my life as a better person. Rolling out of bed at god-awful hours to train doesn’t sound that appetizing most of the time, but I actually found myself thoroughly enjoying it, looking forward to it, and seeing myself genuinely happy.

In 2020, I would like to see the hand surgery community encourage our members to start running. Not necessarily running literally, but to start finding something I found through running—passion, health, and happiness. Some of us already have that in our lives, and I hope that we can encourage ourselves to further promote whatever it is that promote our healthier, happier lifestyle.  

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