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Ten Wellbeing Tips for GPs

Being a GP is demanding to say the least. Having to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is a big ask - in fact, a third of GPs revealed in 2018 that they’d leave the profession within five years due to stress and workload. Looking after the health of the local community is a huge responsibility and takes a lot; it’s a job of fulfillment with a lot of gratification and pride. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t help yourself when things get a little more difficult than usual.

So here are ten tips to help with your wellbeing to keep you as happy and healthy as the patients you help every day...

  1. Keep physically active
    While you’re used to regularly giving out advice to enhance the health of your patients, it’s worth heeding some of this for yourself. As you know, a lack of physical activity can lead to a variety of problems which is something you will have spoken about more than once with patients.

    Do something good for yourself when it comes to being active. In your line of work, you’re inside for much of the day, so take time to be outside when your practice is closed. A stroll to and from the surgery each day can be a great way to fit in some exercise if it’s practical. Or, even when it comes to buying the groceries, instead of taking the car up to the shops, how about walking it instead?

  2. Take a break
    How long do you spend hard working continuously? As a GP, an average day is full to say the least. Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of The Royal College of GPs revealed last year that across 3.5 days of work, GPs work in excess of 50 hours.

    Within these demanding days it’s important for you to take breaks. This will help to relieve pressure as well as clear your mind. It’s a time for you to relax for a short while, refreshing your mind ready for the next workload to come.

  3. Eat well
    Speaking of lunch, bringing a box of biscuits to work isn’t the best idea, as you well know. Three square meals a day as they say; breakfast to fuel your morning and lunch to see you through until tea which should keep you content until breakfast the next day in which the cycle starts all over again. Eating well for each of these meals is vital to keep you at your best health.

    It can be easy to dish out all of this key medical and health advice to your patients, yet neglect your own diet. Ensure you balance your meals as you would advise a patient to obtain optimal health and performance.

  4. Keep in touch with loved ones
    It can be easy to become consumed in your work therefore making time to put it aside and see family and friends can truly assist your wellbeing. Getting too stuck into work can have a negative effect on you, including encouraging stress and fatigue. Speaking to people who you love and seeing them regularly will help to boost your mood and keep you positive.
  5. Book time into your calendar to do what you want
    As with making time for family and friends, making time for yourself is also important. It’s not a bad thing to get out and about, or conversely stay in, by yourself once in a while. Spending time doing something that you enjoy benefits you and can help to take your mind off work.
  6. Get involved
    As we’ve discussed, working days as a GP are long and very busy, so having something to work on out of hours can be cathartic. Getting involved in a task, activity or group is a good way to help your wellbeing. Spending time meeting new people, making new friends and doing something fun helps to put the pressures of work to the back of your head. Not only this, but it can help with a sense of fulfillment.
  7. Ask for help
    As a GP yourself, you know there’s nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to asking for help - you invite your patients to do just that every day. You’re only human, everybody makes mistakes and from those mistakes you learn how to react. Also, talking openly to friends and family or colleagues will help to alleviate stress and pressure. It’s good to seek help and guidance from colleagues and other support networks when you need it.
  8. Be more creative
    After such full, demanding days at work, being creative can be a fantastic release. Do things that are different - and that are fun - when you’re not working. Think outside the box and be creative as this will help boost your mood and self-esteem. Challenge yourself to try something new as often as possible.
  9. Be a little selfish
    It’s not a bad thing to take time for yourself first over others - all day you cater to the needs of your patients. It’s good to allow as long as you feel you need, though try not to spend too much time isolating yourself.
  10. Take care of yourself
    You can’t take care of your patients if you’ve not first taken care of yourself. As you know, a great step is eating healthily, but it’s also good to keep yourself healthy in other ways. Your overall wellbeing is incredibly important, so take on a hobby that you enjoy or go for a walk. You’ll be able to clear your head for a while and get away from the pressures of work.

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