Wellbeing and Resilience
In the Wales Deanery Paediatric trainees change rotation in September and March so this seemed a good opportunity to have an article about a current hot topic within medicine, wellbeing.
The GMC have noted a rise in foundation doctors citing burnout as their reason for taking an F3 year or time out before applying to specialty training, what can we do about this as a profession? . We deal with life and death situations, we lack sleep through shift work, make large volumes of decisions and balance work life with time away from our families. All of these conditions can lead to increased levels of stress, depression and anxiety. With winter pressures and the ever growing demands on juniors combined with the widely discussed Dr Bawa-Garba case, we need to find ways protect our own mental health and our colleagues, supporting ourselves to manage our work-life balance.
What can we focus on?
No article on wellbeing should neglect the important role of sleep to maintaining a positive status quo. And no mention of sleep would be complete without mentioning the work being done by Dr Michael Farquhar.
I was planning on providing a summary of his advice in this blog post however I feel the whole article published in Archives is valuable, really easy to read and very short. So rather than provide a truncated summary I direct you to the reference below and encourage you to take a few minutes to read this.
Sleep matters, and we are only just scratching the surface of this topic.
Farquhar M Fifteen-minute consultation: problems in the healthy paediatrician—managing the effects of shift work on your health Archives of Disease in Childhood - Education and Practice 2017;102:127-132.
Personally this is my main go to wellbeing option. I run. It's not fast, I don't do it to come first, and I don't look pretty doing it, but running 3 times a week enables me to keep on top of everything. Now I accept running is not for everybody, although I would encourage anybody to try it and there are plenty of coach to 5km programs that are freely available to download, exercise is achievable.
Pick an exercise which is sustainable and you enjoy. Fit it into your routine and prioritise it. You don't need to run marathons but get your body moving or make it a social event. Meet up with friends, or making new ones.
What is mindfulness?
Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.
I personally use the Headspace App (@Headspace) to practice mindfulness but there are plenty of other options available. There are plenty of free blog posts on mindfulness on the Headspace website that cover a wide variety of topics. They also have links to published journal articles on the benefits of mindful practice.
Action for happiness is a good twitter feed to follow if you are interested. @actionhappiness They have been producing a calendar for each month with daily ideas to improve wellbeing and their focus for March is Mindfulness.
Mindfulness doesn't have to be meditation however, it can simply be taking the time to give yourself some space, take notice of your surroundings and stop being so busy. It can mean going to a certain place, taking time to listen to your favorite music or read a book. As with all these suggestions - make them work for you.
Remember you are not alone.
Ask for help.
This seems like a simple statement of fact but sometimes it can be hard to remember that you are not a silo. We work in teams, especially in Paediatrics. There will always be somebody around to talk to, to give you support and to bounce ideas off of. If you don't know who these people are for you then go and find them! I have needed to call on my support network recently and without fail they stepped up to the plate. During this time, I also called on my friends outside of medicine. Find your network, what makes you able to bounce back from set backs and be the best you can.
Places to look
You Got This is the UK's first programme designed to promote Wellness and support the wellbeing of staff working in emergency medicine. However, don't feel that you have to be an emergency medical trainee in order to access this. It is a fantastic resource and worth checking in with.
See them on Twitter as well @yougotthiswell
Locally in Cardiff and Vale The Child Health Psychology team run drop in Mindfulness sessions for staff on alternate Tuesdays 13:00-13:30 in Seminar room B, Noah's Ark Hospital. The March sessions are on 6th March and 20th March.
Any other good resources which you think would benefit other readers of this post, feel free to comment below.
Dr Rebecca Broomfield