The importance of looking after your mental health. A GP’s guide for Practitioners on how to look after your physical and mental wellbeing.
Clara Yip is a GP in Warwickshire. She has spoken to us at Menlo Park about the importance of mental health. Working as a GP, has given Clara a valuable insight into how vital it is, not only for yourself as a practitioner, but also for your patients, to make sure that you are taking the time to keep yourself in good mental health.
I am within my first year of being a GP, I qualified just as the pandemic was unfolding. People told me that it is tough to be a new GP during the pandemic. Yes, it is tough in a sense that job opportunities are scarce. However, I considered myself lucky as I managed to secure a long-term locum job, working for out of hours care service and more recently, extended hours service. I am doing what I have set out to do, after all these years of training. It’s comforting that this hasn’t been affected by the pandemic. I am still on track!
Everyone copes differently, but here are some pointers on what I have found useful in staying mentally and physically well during the pandemic. I am passionate about promoting wellbeing and making the workplace a happy place. So please spare a few minutes to have a pause and a read. I hope it will encourage you to pay more attention to your health and find fulfilment in your job every day.
Look after yourself first so that you can look after others. This is so true. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Being a GP can feel like a thankless job sometimes. Not a lot of people understand that on top of seeing patients, we do a lot in the background to keep things running e.g. scripts, referrals, reports, blood results and investigations and actioning on them etc.. With the added challenge of telephone consultations and the burden that COVID has placed on the NHS, no doubt it takes a lot of mental power and empathy to do our job well.
It’s so uplifting getting recognition for what you do from other people- I have been fortunate to have thankful patients and have recently received a certificate of gratitude from the out of hours service that I have worked during the pandemic. Why not do it to yourself too? Pat yourself on the back for doing a good job, despite all the challenges. A little goes a long way.
Give podcasts a go during your commute to give a boost to your wellbeing, this would mean listening to something motivational twice a day. Don’t underestimate the positive impact this can have.
Eat well. Sleep well. Exercise. Work hard, play hard. Sounds like boring advice?
Achieving self-care is still an ongoing lesson for me, it requires lots of self-discipline. I would encourage you to find your own ways to maintain good health. COVID has put a lot of restrictions on what we can do, thankfully exercise is not one of them. If you are passionate about travelling, there are still lots of options of exploring locally in the UK and some countries’ borders are still open. Fewer tourists and cheaper hotels, why not?
Be kind to others
We are still learning about the coronavirus. The pandemic has completely revolutionised the way we work, and government regulations keep evolving. We are all trying to adjust to a new normal. Let’s be kind to ourselves and to each other. Having meetings and discussing cases are a good way of sharing the latest knowledge and supporting each other. You don’t have to do this alone.
Acceptance and gratitude
These are two attitudes that have helped me during difficult times before. Power comes from accepting the situation and doing the best with what you have got. Being thankful helps you find meaning amongst chaos and lessen sufferings. These are inner states of mind that Covid can’t take away!
Nothing is permanent
I remind myself of this truth every now and again. It does not seem that the endpoint is in sight yet, but as with everything else in life, it will one day. The slower way of life has given me the opportunity to re-evaluate the priorities in my life. When COVID is over, I hope I will move forward with a new and improved lens on life.
Written by Dr Clara Yip, Locum GP in Warwickshire