View From the Ground, by Dr Vasumathy Sivarajasingam
The past few months have been testing times for clinicians dealing with the coronavirus pandemic—we have had to keep up to date with new information about the virus, learn and adapt to new ways of working (such as conducting remote consultations), ensure that our staff are motivated and have adequate support, and provide the best possible clinical care to patients who rely on us for reassurance, support, and hope.
Aside from the pandemic, our undivided attention is required to continue dealing with ‘normal’ day-to-day clinical queries from patients, expectations to achieve targets, aspects of running a practice such as staffing issues, and much more—not to mention the support that we need to give to our own families and friends. In the midst of it all, we must remain positive and do our utmost to help to maintain the holistic wellbeing of our colleagues, families, and friends.
How do we maintain our own wellbeing and motivate ourselves in the current lockdown?
One of the approaches that I have found helpful for sustaining my wellbeing during the pandemic is adopting the techniques of the counsellor Julia Kristina and incorporating seven simple habits into my daily routine.1
By implementing one habit at a time, we can make changes to our bodies and minds. To succeed, we must make small, incremental changes, and enact them consistently every day. Persistent habits will form, helping us to reach our full potential. These seven daily habits are as follows.
- Learn something new every day. This will help our brains to grow and develop—examples include picking up a new skill, finding out new information, or even learning about ourselves.
- Use gratitude daily. We need to appreciate and be satisfied with what we have at the present moment, without focusing on what we want in the future.
- Commit to working on our goals every day, without excuses. Aiming to spend around 20 minutes per day should be achievable and helps to maintain momentum.
- Move every day. Just 30 minutes of physical exercise per day will help to maintain and improve physical and mental wellbeing.
- Practice deep breathing. Deep breathing informs the brain that we are not in a ‘fight or flight’ state and helps to improve our mental and emotional health.
- Engage in a creative outlet that brings joy. Spending time doing a creative activity—such as art, music, writing, or drawing— that we enjoy will help us to find happiness and satisfaction with life.
- Teach ourselves to ‘think on purpose’. The majority of our thoughts are unproductive and originate from external sources such as society. We should analyse our daily thoughts objectively to distinguish the positive, productive, ‘healthier’ thoughts from those that are not so helpful.
What I have learnt from practising this approach is that there needs to be a shift in our thinking. Positive thoughts lead to positive behaviour; this has an impact on our habits, which in turn has a positive effect on our values. By incorporating these simple habits into our day, we can empower and motivate ourselves to remain satisfied in our daily routines and working lives. It may even, to some extent, help us to tackle any disappointments that we may face in our journey through life.
Investing in these habits in our daily lives can also enhance our personal development. The ultimate aim is to attain a positive impact on our holistic wellbeing.This change of mindset will certainly help to reduce burnout, maintain work–life balance, and achieve our full potential in life.
Going forward, I plan to share these concepts with my patients, young and old, who I hope will practice these habits to improve their general wellbeing. Taking ownership of our health and mind is vital to us as human beings—the ultimate goal is to achieve a positive outcome.
Dr Vasumathy Sivarajasingam