Why summer holidays will be a little different this year

Author: Dr. Michelle Durkin on 21 July 2020

If you are a long time reader of my blog, or a long term patient, or both, you already know that I have taken the month of August off the last three summers.

This ended up being one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Not only was it a priority for my mental and physical health, it allowed me to be a better doctor.

On reflection there were 5 reasons why an extended vacation was important for me (and probably for you as well). If you forgot what I wrote last year here is a review:

  1. It was a priority for my long term health - I know that helping more people reach their version of healthy isn't going to make me healthy unless I walk the talk in all areas, not just the ones I'm good at. I want all patients, including myself, to avoid getting sucked into the culture of cortisol. So, instead of giving myself a raise, I'm giving myself more time off.
  2. Parkinson's law - Originally, Parkinson's law is the adage that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion". For me, even though I love my job, I don't want work to become the most satisfying thing in my life. I need to make space and time for the "fun stuff" or before I know it another year will have gone by.
  3. We all need a "deloading" phase in life - Taken from the world of exercise physiology it's a concept that can be applied to other areas of life. In the sports world it's a back-off week, or a planned reduction in exercise volume or intensity. The whole point of this week is to prepare the body for the increased demand of the next phase or period of training and more importantly mitigate the risk of overtraining. For me this means avoiding burn-out!
  4. It's OK to say no sometimes - I have a quote that many patients have seen on the filing cabinet in my office that reads, "You can be a good person with a kind heart and still say no."  Up until recently I planned my vacation around other people, other events, less busy times of year, etc. Instead of having my own agenda it was determined by default dependent on everyone else's agenda. I realized that this was rooted in the limiting belief that saying no was somehow a bad thing. I'm slowly learning to say no when it conflicts with my priorities.
  5. The most important thing is usually  the most uncomfortable - Being away from my office for a month was kinda scary, not just uncomfortable. My mind immediately started to go to the worst-case scenario when it was first suggested to me. Now that I have a couple trial runs under my belt and a disaster did not occur when I was away, it's less uncomfortable. I keep reminding myself of the quote from Neale Donald Walsch - "Life begins just outside your comfort zone."

This year holidays are going to look a little different.

Just like flying an airplane, sometimes you need to course correct as you go depending on the environment you are in.

Like many other health care practitioners across the province, our clinic was closed for three months due to the pandemic. And we are still adjusting to the new normal of patient care.

When planning my time off this year I was acutely aware that I still needed to take some holidays, but I also couldn't ignore the fact that I had already had a lot of forced time off in the spring.

So what did I do?

I compromised. I tentatively kept the last two weeks of August as my summer holidays instead of cancelling all together.

I knew if I took my holidays out of my schedule, they would be gone forever and I would not get them back. By keeping some holiday time booked I can always course correct again later if necessary. For me it's easier to add work time than it is to take it away.

So often with activities that don't feel productive in some way we think will we fit them in when we have time.

The truth is unless you make space for them, you will never find the time.

This year I will be beginning my vacation on Friday August 21st at 2pm and will be returning to the office on Tuesday September 8th at 9am. Here are some housekeeping tips to keep in mind during my absence:

  • If you need an emergency appointment, Dr. Daralyn Bates will be at the office in my absence. Please schedule an appointment with Tracey or Jenn, our wonderful receptionists.
  • You will still be able to pick-up supplements during my absence at the office. Please make sure you check your supplements to see if you are getting low before you run out 🙂
  • If needed, you can order some supplements online using the following link: Fullscript. You may need to make an account first before ordering if you have not already ordered through us online.
  • If you are already an patient at QNC you can change appointments online using our online booking system Jane App. Please use this link: JaneApp.

Now I would love to hear from you! Which of my reasons for taking an extended vacation resonated with you the most? Leave a comment below and I'll be back next week with another edition of Doctor as Teacher Tuesday!

4 Replies to “Why summer holidays will be a little different this year”

Brenda Reid

I always seem to find more “stuff” that needs doing or taking care of or finding excuses…. Maybe some day I’ll face the mental health fact that it’s OK to walk away from the work for more than just a couple of hours without feeling guilty that I might be letting someone down. <<>> hopefully….

Dr Michelle Durkin ND

It only comes with practicing Brenda. My new favourite quote is “what are you willing to suck at for as long as it takes to get better?”

Renee-Claude Tanguay

Enjoy your time off! It is so very important! This is such an encouraging post. Thank you!

Dr Michelle Durkin ND

Thank-you! Enjoy your summer as well.

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