Professional Development | Jun 16 2018

The busy consultant dietitian’s self-care guide

Consultant dietitians often weave together multiple positions to create full-time work. Dietitians are entrepreneurial and love working this way. The flexibility and ability to say yes and no to assignments as they choose creates a great work-life balance.

But policies, patients and management can vary at every clinical facility. Consultant dietitians must be constantly on their toes and ready to respond no matter what is thrown at them.

“Moving from one assignment to another can be stressful, as there is always something new to prepare for or learn. But to be honest, that is one of the things I enjoy most. I thrive on the newness and variety,” said Dietitians On Demand traveling dietitian Sara Glanz, MS, RD, LD, CNSC.

How can stress impact a registered dietitian’s health and work?

Dietitians often describe themselves as “Type-A” personalities who thrive on details, being organized and diligently caring for their patients or clients. The perk of working a temporary position is often the mindset that “I can do anything for a couple months.”

But regardless of the duration of a temporary assignment or a permanent dietitian position, working in health care is high pressure. Often hospitals and long term care facilities have just a few dietitians on staff, or even just one solo dietitian responsible for covering an entire facility. With standards to keep up with from Joint Commission and CMS, in addition to striving for perfect patient care, stress is inevitable.

“I worked as a full-time clinical dietitian at a hospital I loved. But as a single-site dietitian, I was expected to do it all. And I did. All of the responsibility…I owned it and thrived on it,” Sara said. “I left that job to pursue a graduate degree … And after completing that I needed a break. I actually made a pact with another “Type A” dietitian/friend that we would both find jobs that would allow for a better work-life balance.”

Engage in a daily mindfulness practice

A growing trend in the wellness space, mindfulness helps relieve chronic stress symptoms by helping a person become more aware of their thoughts, and specifically how those thoughts influence behaviors. By being better able to focus the body’s energy on less negative efforts, the body’s stress response has been shown to slow down, or even stop entirely. While not easy by any means, daily practice, even for five minutes at a time, can help a dietitian struggling to find a balance.

Designate a “no-phone, no social media” time

While it’s certainly convenient to have everything at one’s fingertips, the fast-paced digital world has its disadvantages. Needing to be online all the time has become a real problem for most people, but especially those leading busy professional lives. And while many view taking five minutes to scroll through their feed as “relaxing”, what they don’t realize is it can actually fuel root causes of stress and anxiety.

Social media is an incredibly powerful marketing tool for nutrition professionals, but it’s important to recognize when that tool might be consuming too much of their daily life, and take breaks when possible.

Learn how to leverage technology for self-care (apps, resources)

Conversely, major technological strides lately have been made into health and wellness. Health and fitness apps like Aaptiv* and others are paving the way towards making exercise accessible, even to busy dietitians spending lots of time on the road or moving from assignment to assignment.

Because fitness is such an important component to overall health, and especially in stress management, it’s extremely valuable to have a wealth of health resources available at the push of a button.

Leave work at the door

It’s hard to keep an even work-life balance if there aren’t clear boundaries. Though it can be tempting, taking work home is one of the least helpful things for achieving that happy medium in life. Whether it’s a case file, tough question, or client research — all of those things can be done on work time. Take the time spent at home to reset, returning to work recharged and ready to take on any task.

Indulge in the small things

According to research, it’s the little things in life that make us the most happy — yet since we’re constantly multitasking, we don’t often stop to indulge or appreciate them. Whether it’s dinner, chocolate, or the latest Netflix guilty pleasure, take the time to savor an activity. Avoiding rushing through these little moments can teach us how to appreciate our lives and the people in them a lot more.

Dietitians On Demand is the nationwide leader in clinical nutrition staffing and has built a reputation for always being an advocate for their employees. Consultant dietitians with Dietitians On Demand enjoy flexibility in when and where they work, competitive pay rates and exciting assignments nationwide.

“Work-life balance must be created; it does not happen on its own. Knowing your limits and taking time for yourself should be a priority,” Sara said. “I found that with Dietitians On Demand. I take time off when I need it (or want it!) and enjoy my travel assignments to the fullest with weekend trips and plenty of sightseeing!”

Dietitians On Demand is a nationwide staffing and recruiting company for registered dietitians, specializing in short-term, temporary and permanent-hire positions in acute care, long term care and food service positions. We’re dedicated to dietitians and helping them enhance their practice and excel in the workplace. Check out our job openings, request your coverage, or visit our store today!

* Developed in collaboration with Aaptiv.

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