So diving straight in where I left things last week. If you haven’t read the first part of this blog I strongly recommend you do so. You can find it here: https://emmaatthelifestylepill.com/2019/04/28/stress-management-as-a-junior-doctor-part-1/
Yoga has been shown to be beneficial for stress management. A common reason for people to take up yoga is to reduce their stress levels and feel more relaxed. It has repeatedly been shown to reduce the body’s primary stress hormone cortisol 1,2. It can also reduce perceived stress 3 whilst improving quality of life and mental wellbeing 4.
I think it’s not exaggeration to say that yoga has revolutionised my wellbeing. It has changed my outlook on exercise and provides me with a healthy stress reduction strategy when needed. By waking up and getting straight onto my mat every morning I start each day in a positive, calm mindset. The benefit this brings to my outlook on the whole day has been noticeable.
I encourage everyone to at least give it a go. If you need suggestions for places to go for a home practice if a yoga studio doesn’t appeal to you, check out my blog post here: https://emmaatthelifestylepill.com/2019/03/17/my-favourite-yoga-youtube-channels/
Mindfulness is about being present in the moment, taking in your body, mind and environment.
There is growing evidence to support the use of mindfulness in the treatment of several mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, leading to some structured mindfulness therapies being recommended in NICE (National Institute of Health and Care Excellence) guidelines for health professionals.
It’s also becoming more common in everyday health and wellbeing.
If you’re interested in integrating mindfulness into your daily life Calm and Headspace are two of the most popular and well-known apps to help start a mindfulness journey. You can read my review of them both here: https://emmaatthelifestylepill.com/2018/08/18/stress-and-mindfulness/
Picture source: https://www.alfredhealth.org.au/news/mindfulness-app-helps-hospital-workers-find-calm/
What I wanted to mention here was an app I recently came across which has been specifically designed by doctors, for doctors. The TREAT app comes from two Australian doctors but is equally explicable across the globe. What is unique about this app is that it has mindfulness sessions from 40 seconds to 45 minutes, enabling you to choose how long you have and not to get stressed about the time you need to take to destress! It’s also doctor-focused. You have guided mindfulness sessions you can do whilst washing your hands (something doctors do tens of times across the day), to help you reflect on a medical emergency and upon leaving a stressful day, to name a few. It is available on itunes and Google Play store.
When you’re having a bad time at work, it’s important to remember what the job brings to your life and actively acknowledge this through a practice of gratitude. Does your job enable you to pay the mortgage? Pay for you to go on holiday with your partner? Financial security isn’t something to be taken for granted. Did you have a chat getting to know a colleague today? Did someone say thank-you and mean it? Whatever it is, big or small, remember to feel grateful for the things you can so easily take for granted.
Schedule in fun time, time to be with your friends and family and exercise. If you get stressed and overwhelmed, you might skip out on these things that provide important balance in your life. If you enjoy and find exercise a stress reliever, put it in your diary and see it as an appointment with yourself so you don’t skip it. Even better agree to go with your partner, friend or colleague, the social nature of the session will be even better for you and social accountability will prevent you from dropping out last minute.
There’s a good video explaining the important of balancing your life as a doctor on YouTube, click here to watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYlb6UbCMkw
Guilt is not the same as shame
I listened to a really insightful podcast with Brené Brown recently. She highlights how important it is to distinguish between guilt and shame. Guilt is feeling bad about an action you took or mistake you made yet acknowledging this doesn’t mean you yourself are a bad person. Shame is relating this error back to say you are a bad person because of your actions. Why I raise this is in all likelihood we are all going to make a mistake at somepoint. We are only human. If/when this happens it’s important to note that just because you made a mistake this does not make you a bad person. You can feel guilty for it, but shouldn’t feel shame. We are all just trying our best. Check out the podcast which discusses this in more depth here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/dr-brene-brown-on-physician-courage-vulnerability/id1043836086?i=1000363385754 (the link is for iTunes online but the episode can be listened to on all major podcast platforms).
Ultimately, we need a culture shift. The recruitment and retainment of workforce crisis the NHS is in sends a clear message. In the mean time I hope this helps to build up your resilience tool kit and battle some of the stresses in your lives.
- García-Sesnich, J., Flores, M., Ríos, M. & Aravena, J. Longitudinal and immediate effect of Kundalini Yoga on salivary levels of cortisol and activity of alpha-amylase and its effect on perceived stress. Int. J. Yoga 10, 73 (2017).
- Gothe, N. P., Keswani, R. K. & McAuley, E. Yoga practice improves executive function by attenuating stress levels. Biol. Psychol. 121, 109–116 (2016).
- Michalsen, A. et al. Rapid stress reduction and anxiolysis among distressed women as a consequence of a three-month intensive yoga program. Med. Sci. Monit. 11, CR555-561 (2005).
- Smith, C., Hancock, H., Blake-Mortimer, J. & Eckert, K. A randomised comparative trial of yoga and relaxation to reduce stress and anxiety. Complement. Ther. Med. 15, 77–83 (2007).