Relax with your family

I hope you and your family will be at this meeting I am about to attend. It is in your part of the country and in your mother's specialty, but I imagine you are probably so busy now with your own studies and activities that you don't accompany her anymore. Maybe your folks will be here, though, and I can get news of you. Your parents are two people who know how to relax in healthy, positive ways. You have had a good example. You know already how important it is for a physician to "Take Time to Relax with Your Family."

Because they wanted to return to their desert origins after residency, your parents concluded they would never again live close to water. So, long before they could afford to do any such thing, they bought a beautiful mahogany sailboat to explore the Chesapeake Bay. They learned all about sailing and taught their closest friends as well. We had great fun on that boat. They ultimately sold it for more than they had originally paid! As a toddler, you were a very good helper and seemed to enjoy the boat, too. I wonder if you remember.

Your brother, C, was too young then to fully enjoy the boat, but I hope your parents have relaxed with him, too. When residency ends and practice starts, it can become harder to find the time to relax. Many physicians go through a time when they relax very little and that hurts them and their families. To relax with your family means to let go of worries and to have fun, not just to do dutiful things. Relaxing requires a little more time, preparation, and rest than just showing up does, and that extra time is very difficult to find. Most physicians are driven, responsible people who go to as many of our children's arts performances and sporting events as possible, but, due to fatigue and stress, may end up looking like the woman in the Allegra® ad ("Low Interest or High Pollen?")! That is certainly better than not going at all, but I would heartily recommend setting aside time for yourself and your family when you are not on call or post-call -- time enough to relax and to genuinely enjoy each other. It doesn't have to be a lot of time, but it needs to be regular, reliable, and protected time. Treat yourself and your family as if, collectively, you are your favorite patient.