Lockdowns, social distancing and vaccinations have only just begun to curb this pandemic. This past year, wellbeing for many has suffered or fallen by the wayside. This is when we need nature’s 7 doctors to help and support our wellbeing which are: 1. Sunshine 2. Exercise 3. Air 4. Water 5. Rest 6. Diet 7. Laughter
Being an emergency physician and working in one of the most stressful specialities of medicine, I would like to share my survival guide of wellbeing on a day to day basis. My mantra is putting “CLANGERS of Wellbeing” by Dr Phil Hammond to practice.
My personal take on wellbeing is:
Connect to people or pets around you. During lockdown, technology has once again proven to be an amazing gift. I connected to my friends via zoom and gave free yoga lessons online. We could easily connect to people and share our skills like music, painting and art with our friends, or we could organise a quiz via zoom for friends and family. In this new world of virtual catch ups, you can arrange a time for WhatsApp coffees or have a coffee while we catch up with things on video call.
Learn – Learn a new skill. Age is just a number. It is never too late to learn. Last summer I took up hiking and golf. Gardening is another skill which doesn’t need expertise. Advice from a few good friends and the internet will bring an array of amazing colours of flowers around you. Even if you live in a flat, you can always have indoor plants and nurture them. Learn cooking, baking, painting or playing a new instrument. Or do DIY jobs by watching YouTube videos. These are skills you can use for life. You could also learn a new hobby or craft or a new game alongside home-schooling your children. Enjoy making and doing things with your children by bringing out the child within yourself. You can enjoy learning with them and make make it a more challenging task to engage children who are bored during the lockdown.
Active – Be active and modify according to weather. Weather does not need to be an excuse. Go for a run or cycle when it is fair. If not, do an indoor workout or gym session. Even just having and using a skipping rope at home will remind you of the simple exercise of skipping. There are lots of workout sessions available on YouTube as well. If you are not an exercise person just put on some music and dance like no one is watching.
Notice – Try noticing small little things. I love to watch ducks waddle around pond. Gaze at beautiful front gardens of people in spring and summer. Watch the transforming colours of autumn leaves, and witness the amazing make-over of mother nature. Watch beautiful Christmas lights in winter and the budding daffodils as spring approaches. Changes in the seasons bring us new beginnings and newfound hope. Look around and you will see things all around that can inspire mindfulness, whether it is a beautiful sunrise or sunset or simply birds flitting about in the park or garden.
Give back – Do small acts of charity or help people around you. I did a 60 mile walk in September to raise funds for Dementia UK. I also help International Medical Graduates with shopping and help them settle in to life here in the UK. A big transition for many Graduates coming from abroad. Every small or little act of kindness gives such a sense of satisfaction and will be received by others with enormous gratitude.
Eat well – Eat healthy. Reduce the intake of processed food, which in turn may help to reduce your carbon foot print. I am a vegetarian and rarely eat processed food. Making a healthy meal at home can be fun and relaxing and give a sense of pride or achievement.
Relax – Listen or play your favourite music. Cook a nice meal, nurture some indoor or outdoor plants. Read a book. Do what helps you feel happy and relaxed. I upcycle used candle containers to pen stands and a range of decorative items. Bring out the hidden artist in you.
Sleep – This is the most important thing that makes everything else work well. Whatever sleep you get should be good quality sleep. Try to refrain from caffeine and bright lights especially from gadgets for a few hours before sleep. Using black out roller blinds underneath curtains can be very helpful.
Though it seemed to be a prolonged winter, nevertheless spring and summer are fast approaching.
Thanks to Dr Phillip Hammond for giving us this simple method “CLANGERS of Wellbeing” which has helped me a great deal and I hope they will help you too.
by Roopa Balasundaram, EM Consultant and QIP Lead