Wellbeing during uncertainty

Despite feeling her vocational calling more than ever before, Dr Stacey Harris recognises the emotions we may all be feeling at this time. She goes back to her basic principles and sets out some helpful tips to maintain your wellbeing.
Stacey at work

Uncertainty seems to be the prevailing feeling right now. I, as have most people, have had my whole life turned upside down in the blink of an eye: events I'd been looking forward to cancelled, things I expected to happen not happening, training placements changed, rotas intensified and the uncertainty continues.

However, I have not felt my vocational calling before more than I have at this time, I remember why I went into medicine, I went in to help people and care for them in their hour of need. Now is the time to be part of the team responding to this pandemic. Despite that I've found it difficult not to feel a whole host of strong emotions recently, so I've had to go right back to basic principles. 

  • What is happening right now? Our whole lives are uncertain. We never know quite what is going to happen from one moment to the next - but we do know what is happening in this moment. Perhaps we are having thought storms about how bad things might get in the future, but right now we are actually snuggled up warm in bed or having a shower.
  • This period will probably be extremely hard, but this storm will pass. During the storm we may notice unexpected bright spots or rainbows. Try and look out for those and remain hopeful.
  • It can be easy to become overwhelmed during this time but we usually know which step to take next. So when we feel overwhelmed, concentrating on taking small simple steps will keep us going.
  • Despite feeling all sorts of emotions at this time remember that these are normal human emotions and our bodies are naturally striving to bring us back into balance, so we can just relax and let that happen.

I've put together some tips to help maintain wellbeing during this time. These were initially to remind and help me through this difficult period - but hopefully it will help you too! 

  • Look after your friends, your family, your patients and you as a priority! 
  • Are you HALT (Hungry, Angry, Late, Tired)? Then take a break.
  • Eat and drink regularly and take power naps when you can.
  • Be flexible. If you are out of your comfort zone, ask for help, go back to basics, ABCDE, you know and can do more than you realise.
  • Use PPE appropriately and follow public health and occupational advice for yourself and your patients.
  • When you are not working, rest, relax and recuperate. Your colleagues have got this while you rest!
  • Prioritise sleep.
  • Get outside if you can, breathe in the fresh air, be with nature.
  • Try and do as many things you usually do as possible. Talk to family and friends, even if it's virtually.
  • Communicate as effectively as possible with those around you.
  • At the end of the day, think of three things that went well: one, two, three. And then two things that you can learn from or do differently, and share your learning with others.
  • Every day take a moment to look around and see the wonder that is our NHS and what we can achieve together.
  • Remind yourself of the team you are part of and how much the public value and trust us for this.

We will get through this time together!

You can see my posters below, and scroll down to download these.