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Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Best Health Habits That Doctors Use for Self Care

What are the habits of doctors when it comes to their own health? These simple habits used by physicians help their minds and bodies thrive.

Did you ever wonder what doctors do to stay healthy? Are they running marathons and downing supplements? Do they devote two hours to the gym every day? Are they vegans? We wondered the same things, so we checked up on our learned friends and found the answers to all our questions. So what healthy habits do docs use?


“Every morning I pray, meditate, and stretch before I eat breakfast. For me, this helps to center me and sets the tone of the day,” says family physician Michele C. Reed. Meditation relieves stress, which in turn helps every aspect of your health. “Every morning I start the day off with meditation for 15 minutes,” says dermatologist Anna D. Guanche. Deep breathing and a mantra repetition or intention-setting for the day is key to reducing stress and staying focused. Don’t skip it! Personally, it is the most important and cherished part of my day.”

Physician Advice for Eye Health  

Don’t forget your eyeballs when you’re thinking about overall health. Ophthalmologist Vincent Hau says you should wear sunglasses daily. “Choose sunglasses that protect against 100 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays, which can cause all sorts of eye damage and problems. Even on a cloudy day, UV lights still shine through and will hit and damage your eyes. More expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better protection. You can get drugstore sunglasses with just as good of protection or better than designer ones.” And fellow ophthalmologist Brian Boxer Wachler agrees UV protection is crucial. “One healthy habit is putting a 99 percent UV blocking film on my car side windows. This is based on a study I did with one of my daughters that found poor protection of most car side windows increases risk of left-sided cataracts and skin cancer on the left side of the face.”

Physical Activity

"I do some kind of exercise almost every morning," says Alex McDonald, a family and sports medicine physician. "It helps me handle stress and roll with the punches throughout the day." Dr. Subbarao Myla swears by parking far from the entrance wherever you’re going. “This helps me to add 3,000 steps just finding the car!” And if you’re really serious about your exercise, you can be like cardiac surgeon Steven Bolling, who says, “I practice what I preach. I have actually run to work basically every day for 30 years. That’s my zen moment. I really take that time out. Some of my patients know I run to work every day, and they think it’s fascinating that I’m actually doing cardio every day.” Exercising may be hard work for many when they’re just getting started, but it pays off. 

Practicing Gratitude

How in the world can giving thanks translate to better health? Negative thoughts can lead to stress and anxiety, which can have a big impact on physical health. "Every night, my family and I discuss what went well that day, and why," says family physician Brian Linh Nguyen. "Sharing what went well — and what we’re grateful for — helps us stay grounded in the positive instead of dwelling on the negative. And exploring how our actions helped those things go well helps us invite more positivity into our lives. So the more we practice gratitude, the more we have to be grateful for."

Sleeping Enough

The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. “I make sleep a priority, making sure I get at least seven or eight hours of sleep a night,” says pediatrician Eric Ball. “I wake up very early (4:30 am) to exercise, so I usually am in bed by 8:30 pm or 9:00 pm.” 

Journaling Thoughts

Research studies show that writing down anxieties, joys and everything in between can relieve stress, alleviate depression and increase resilience to everything life throws at you. Cardiologist Columbus Batiste likes to write down a plan every day. "I write out what I’m seeking to accomplish that day. When and how will I exercise? What will I eat? What needs to get done at work? Physically creating this list and crossing things off helps me stay positive and productive."

Eating Well

It’s no surprise that doctors try to eat well since it’s proven to have an impact on every aspect of health, including mental health. Endocrinologist Joel Zonszein likes to eat at home rather than going out. “Eating and talking at the table with my wife and children without our cell phones, the television, or computer is important.” But doctors are picky about supplements. Cardiologist Sarah Samaan says that “doctors who strongly recommend certain supplements are often the ones selling them in their office. For primary prevention, if you’re not eating fish two to three times a week, then fish oil is probably a good idea. I also recommend vitamin D because 80 percent of U.S. adults are deficient. Those are the only two I take.” 


That’s right – doctors know they are never going to be perfect. Like eating well. You should eat a plant-based diet with plenty of fruit, veggies, fish, and olive oil. “If your health is generally good, there’s no reason for any foods to be strictly off-limits,” says McDonald. “My personal goal is to eat healthy 90 percent of the time."