Physician heal thyself!

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"78% of doctors believe that doctors are so busy looking after others that they neglect to look after themselves"

Doctors may have to deal with difficult situations and take great responsibility – often with little support. After a bad day they can’t always say to themselves “that was a terrible day, but at least nobody died”. Even if no one dies there is a chance that they dealt with loss of some kind; of health, expectations or future.

Helping ourselves

There may be organisational factors within the NHS which are hard to address and can impact personal resilience. There are however, some personal protective steps you can take that are within your control.

  • Self-awareness: being aware and reflective is helpful in work and outside it. Having a realistic view of what is achievable and an awareness of your strengths and weaknesses can reduce frustration. Doctors are notoriously bad at demonstrating self-compassion!
  • Time management and goal setting: in particular, managing your time to make space for time off and recharging. A healthy work/life balance may need planning and effort to make it happen. Clarifying your values by knowing what life you want to lead can help your resolve.
  • Practice self-care: eating a healthy diet and taking regular exercise is important for positive mental health. Watch out for negative self-talk: instead, regularly call loved ones to check in, or try to focus on reasons to be grateful.

Sometimes prevention, self-care and support from our colleagues, your GP, friends and family aren’t enough and we need to ask for extra help. It is not a sign of weakness but of maturity and self-awareness.

Here are some further sources of support:

Confidential psychotherapeutic support for doctors via DocHealth

RMBF’s online Doctor Advice Hub with helpful and informative articles

Submitted by
Claire Andersen
Head of Fundraising & Communications
The Royal Medical Benevolent Fund

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