If there’s one thing I’ve learned over my time working as a doctor, is that if I don’t take such great care for myself first, I cannot do the same for my patients. Every day I go to work and there are many people to see - to help, diagnose and guide through the treatment of different illnesses as well as life problems. As a GP, we don’t just treat physical illnesses, but also do a lot to help people in general with their lives.
Growing up, and when I was studying, I didn’t take as good care of myself as I do now – which was part of my learning. I imagine how much less exhausted I would have been with my studies, and potentially how much more I could have learned, had I taken much greater care with myself from the start.
There are some key things that I do now, that mean I take care of myself first:
- Whenever I can, I go to bed early. I know I sleep best, and feel refreshed if I consistently go to bed around 9pm. Sometimes I can’t, and that’s ok – I’ve also developed ways to be very settled in the evening so that late nights don’t affect me so much. I love settling myself into my bed at night, and winding down beforehand I know is very, very important for the quality of my sleep.
- I eat foods that I know my body loves (actually loves) – which means foods that nourish me from the inside out. I ate a fair amount of junk food growing up, and it definitely did not make my body feel vital and full of energy. I love making myself healthy and delicious meals now, and my body definitely thanks me for it!
- I make time to appreciate the things I am doing well, and also how valuable I am. I know I am not valuable because I am a doctor, I’m valuable because I take all of me and my wisdom to what I do as a doctor. If I was to do any other job it would be the same, and it would be equally important. Taking time to appreciate the specific things we do well, and bring to those around us – just by being us - is really important. There’s no one just like me or you, which means we all have a very important part to play.
These 3 things I now do consistently, but it has taken some practice. I love taking care of myself first, and it actually means I can do so much more to help take care of those around me too.
By Amelia Stephens
Photography by Dean Whitling