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Published on December 03, 2019

back view of woman spinning plates

Finding Balance for a Busy Life

By Kelly Rhone, MD

I think the word “balance” is actually unfair. Let’s face it, there are days that we really have no choice of having balance. As a physician, I sometimes work 24-hour shifts where I don’t see my family and have no self-care. That is not balance.

I think of my life as plates I have spinning. Sometimes, there are a lot of them, some with stuff on top of them that I’m also trying to balance, so they need a little more attention until I can unload them. Some weeks more of the plates are kids’ activities or family obligations, and some weeks the plates are shifts and work meetings. Some weeks the self-care plates don’t even make it out of the dishwasher. Sound familiar?

As I get older, I’m more careful about taking on new plates so I don’t drop the ones I’m already spinning. I ask myself if this is something I have passion for, is it something I really have to do because it’s my job or is this something that someone else could do? If I say yes, I have to say no to something else. I’ll have to put down another plate or risk dropping it. Often those plates are sleep, self-care and family time, so I need to try to decide if I have time to take that on.

It’s important to have a team of people who support you and help you keep those plates spinning. My husband and I often throw plates back and forth, depending on the week. Your team may include your partner, family, nanny or day care provider, neighbors, etc. Build your team and let them know they’re important to you. Say “thank you” and say it often.

Look for others who can take on one of your plates. There’s often a lot of talent around us and people we could be mentoring. Leadership is sharing the spotlight and the work with those around you, and sometimes sitting back and letting someone else spin the shiny plates. Don’t be afraid to share.

Lastly, sometimes you just need to put down your plates and rest. Schedule the vacation, take a walk, snuggle your babies and take your partner on a date. It allows us to come back for another day and fight the good fight. And if you’re struggling, ask for help. There are times when life is hard and you need more help. Ask for it. It’s OK to need someone to help you carry the load so you don’t smash the plates to bits. At Avera, the LIGHT Program is one of the places we can go to help us prioritize our tasks and get some help when life gets rough. But don’t go it alone.

Kelly Rhone, MD, is an emergency medicine physician with Avera and is Medical Director of Outreach and Innovation at Avera eCARE.

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