How to Create the Perfect Work-Life Balance, According to a Busy Surgeon

We all struggle with finding the balance between our work lives and our actual lives. Now that we’re confined to our homes, the line between those identities is blurrier than ever. We work later or check our inbox from bed. It’s probably why some of us are more anxious or depressed coming out of 2020.

During a recent Friday Session for Men’s Health’s Instagram, Dr. Drew Ramsey, M.D., spoke with Dr. Wilton L. Triggs II, M.D., an Ohio-based plastic and reconstructive surgery, about how he finds his balance when working 15-hour days in the OR with a single break, and how you can find your own sanity in the chaos.

When you’re short on time, finding time to do things that matter—working out or cooking—means squeezing it when you can, no matter how short or long you have. “When I would get home, before I’d start studying, I would workout, even if it was just 45 minutes,” Dr. Triggs said. “I figured it was better than nothing.”

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To maximize his time, Dr. Triggs meal preps, too. “When I hit intern year, I was probably in the best shape of my life. Got older and started eating whatever I wanted to eat and then I noticed I couldn’t do that anymore … For me, it’s a Sunday afternoon around 1 or 2. I grill chicken breast…pop them in the microwave and keep going.”

And after a long day, for Triggs, all it takes is a little couch-sitting to find his inner peace. “During the early part of my chief year, when it was probably the most intense, as soon as I finished up for the day and the work was done, I’d go home, eat, workout, and then basically just take a minute to watch some TV,” he said. “I watch a lot of trashy reality shows…I think it just helps you zone out, almost what meditation does for you. That’d be what I’d do before I even open up a book or a journal to decompress.” For you, maybe that’s playing a video game or putting on a Netflix movie.

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And when the day’s done, don’t concern yourself with what you didn’t achieve. “You can’t beat up on yourself if you don’t get everything accomplished when you want to get everything accomplished because you gotta operate on the time you’re given.”

In other words, be satisfied what with you did and start the next day with a fresh mentality. We all need to be kinder to ourselves, and acknowledging that is helpful for finding your own work-life balance.

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