Category Archives: Coaching Doctors

New Year Resolutions: what I’ve learned!

Happy New Year
Happy New Year

It’s the start of another  New Year  and everyone, including me, is  making New Year resolutions.

But is it worth doing this? Will making resolutions lead to disappointment when I fail to keep to them for more than a few days? Or will I feel elated and happy that I’ve managed to change some habits which need to be changed?

What I’ve learned over many years of making resolutions at this time of the year is as follows:

  • It’s useful to make resolutions even if I don’t stick to them.
  • Resolutions indicate that I am aware that something in my life is making me unhappy, frustrated or angry and I  realise the need for change. When I make a resolution what I’m saying to myself is that I recognise the problem and  know things could be different. I may not have actually worked out how they could be different but at least I’ve taken a step forward, by being more aware.
  • I need to be more specific in the resolutions I make.
  • A resolution is just that: a statement that I’ve resolved to make a change in my life, hopefully for the better. I know I want something different and I’m stating this by making a resolution.
  • But a resolution is just that: a statement of intent – it doesn’t necessarily identify the steps I will need to take to achieve what I want. It doesn’t specify how long it will take me to achieve, so possibly leading to me giving up after a few days when I haven’t achieved something which might take months rather than days to happen.
  • Nor does it say how I can identify exactly what success at getting  that resolution completed will actually mean in practical terms.
  • If I say I want to get fitter, for example, how exactly do I  plan to do this? What does the term ‘fitter’ actually mean to me? If I want to lose weight, how much weight will it take to satisfy myself that I’ve achieved what I resolved?

What I’ve learned is that it’s a great exercise to make resolutions so long as I am very clear what I want and how I’ll get to it and be able to congratulate myself for any changes I make however small and however short lived.  Some changes need to be attempted many times before they become permanent , so it’s important that I don’t give up yet!

 
Happy New Year

What are you resolving to do to improve your work life balance so that you can be a doctor and have a life? Please put your comments in the box below!

PS Booking for Connect and Change must close at end of January 2014 or sooner when last 3 places filled. Don’t miss this opportunity!!

 

Taking time out is a way to be less stressed.

If you are an overworked and stressed  doctor who wonders if there is anything you could do to be happier, more relaxed  and have enough time to do things for yourself,  instead of allowing the monster that is Medicine, eat you up, then here are some suggestions for you.

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You can’t go on like this, because if you do then something has to give and that something will be your personal health and well-being so that you are unable to function as a doctor efficiently and effectively any more.  This will impact on your ability as a doctor and the way you feel about your patients and your medical work and eventually can lead to burn out and having to leave the profession on health grounds.

Not only your medical work, but your life in general already can be affected when you are on the go all the time. This results in you finding  it difficult to make decisions or decide what is best for your life now. Your relationships suffer and your self-care is decreased and you will feel frustrated and ineffectual. You may long to take some ‘time out’ but don’t know how or what to do!

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What can you do to change your situation?

You could:

  • Leave the Medical profession completely, which might solve the problem  yet feel anxious about what to do instead
  • Consider retirement yet wonder if you will be bored without the routine of work
  • Continue as a doctor and try to improve your work-life balance but don’t know how to
  • Free up more time for you – but don’t believe it is possible
  • Carry on as you are until you cannot cope any more and become completely burnt out

 What could happen if you don’t care for yourself more?

You will:

  • Become more stressed and unhappy;
  • Get fully burnt out;
  • Be unable to enjoy Medicine any more;
  • Become confused about what to do next…….

You long for some space and time  to:

  • decide what to do for you
  • discover for yourself that it is possible to be a doctor and live your life in whatever way you want…..

Life doesn’t have to be like that for you….

You can be:

  • more relaxed
  • refreshed
  • find answers to your dilemmas
  • decide on steps to move forward…..

But HOW can you achieve this? You must:

  • nurture yourself because when you look after yourself you can better look after your patients
  • relax, reflect so that you can make decisions calmly and in an informed way
  • make new connections  with  parts of yourself which have been neglected for a while so that you become a whole person again, by exercising, stretching, being creative
  • connect with nature so that you find something beyond your day to day work
  • find a new way forward, which you hadn’t discovered before so that you are more confident about changes you decide to make

There is also a once only opportunity to discover new ways to connect and change in beautiful West Cornwall, UK, so you can be refreshed, relaxed and make decisions about what to do next.

You will experience being able to Connect and Change with:

  • Your body which will become energised, exercised and stretched with walking, yoga, relaxation….
  • Your mind, to be able to think more  clearly as you have time to consider  what to do next in your life as you spend time in nature, by the sea, learn about and experience mindfulness… and have the chance to use me and others as a sounding board to discover your own solutions.
  • Your emotions which will become calmer as you put things into proportion while watching the ocean in an area of outstanding natural beauty and have the opportunity for personal reflection and discussion with other medics  and experience coaching as a sounding board for your thoughts and ideas.
  • Your creativity which will be awakened as you have permission to have fun and discover new ways to express yourself through art and music, and discover something new about yourself.
  • Your enjoyment which will be increased….as you enjoy  bird watching, swimming, ….conversations….laughing….staying in a beautiful place  just minutes from the sea, so you can relax and refresh your mind, body and spirit; and experience  a day foraging (with an expert) for wild food then cooking and feasting on it!

When you connect with new experiences you will be able to make the changes you want and discover which direction  to take next, within or out of the Medical profession, in order to live the life you truly want.

To take some time out just for you and discover what to do, for yourself, when you connect with parts of yourself you may have neglected…. find out more here:

http://www.susankersley.co.uk/connectandchange

With Connect and Change you can too take time out and be able to make the changes you want to make in or out of Medicine.

I’m Susan Kersley and I’m inviting you to spend time with me, my colleagues and a small group of doctors, in Cornwall, UK  3 – 7 April 2014

I was a doctor for more than 30 years before discovering for myself that there is a life after Medicine and enabling doctors to realise  this too.

Any questions:

Connecting with nature
Cornwall is an area of outstanding natural beauty!

 

 

 

 

How to be a More Effective Doctor

Would you like to find out how to relax more often and as a result be a more effective  doctor?

Who heals the healers?
Who heals the healers?

Some days the work seems overwhelming. As soon as you finish with one thing there is another patient to see, another phone call to answer and another crisis to deal with. There seems to be no time for anything, no time to stop for a meal, almost no time to breathe. Even though you are convinced there is no time to do anything else there are some things you can do:

 

 

Become more aware of your breathing. Pause and breathe. However rushed you are, however stressed you feel, however much pressure others are putting on you, take a few seconds and pause and breathe consciously, slowly in and out, count to 5 slowly as you breathe in and as you breathe out to focus on your breathing. How long will that take? ten or twenty seconds at most. And the benefit? You will feel calmer and more able to carry on.

Notice your environment At the same time as connecting with your breathing or at other times just take a few seconds to look up and out of a window and become aware there is a world outside of the hospital. Notice the sky and be conscious of a world beyond where you are.  If you are in a room with no windows then look at some flowers or as a last resort just close your eyes for a moment and think about a place you love to be in the countryside or beside the sea. Just a few moments then open your eyes and carry on with renewed energy.

Nourish yourself When you are busy and rushing about it is too easy to skip meals or grab a sugary snack and eat it while you answer emails or search for a patient’s notes. If you take time to get something  more healthy to fill the gap, or take it with you each day and take  some time away from the ward, away from the patients while you eat and enjoy it, you will return with renewed energy and be able to cope much more effectively with whatever the rest of the day brings.

Follow these three tips every day and monitor how you feel you will notice a steady improvement in your concentration, your energy and your well-being and as a result you will be a more effective doctor too.

PS Very few places left for Connect and Change – Retreat for Doctors in Cornwall April 2014  Don’t leave booking until all the very limited places are gone.

Self Care is Vital for Doctors

Deb Boulanger who is a life coach shared  tips on how we can operate at peak performance. She says “Until I learned how to take care of myself, I wasn’t able to serve those around me very well (and neither will you).”

This is such a vital message that many doctors need to hear and understand but instead shut their ears to how vital it is to care for yourself. Just as in the aeroplane the instructions in case of emergency  are to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs, so it is with being a doctor: to give the best of yourself you must first look after your own health and well being.

Sadly too many doctors day they don’t have the time to do this – and as a result become more stressed and become less able to cope until one day they find they can’t cope at all and have to take time off because of ill health be it mental or physical or both.

You don’t have to be perfect but you do need to be the best you can be: and that happens when you take the time to look after all parts of yourself: body mind and spirit. You can define these words in whatever way you want, in whatever way is meaningful for you and also decide how you will care more for yourself.

It can mean anything from taking a few moments between patients to take a few deep and relaxing breaths, to exercising, be that at the gym, running, dancing or yoga to reading novels, to spending quality time with friends and family.

You can get a boost by coming to an event next April 2014 in Cornwall, UK. Find out more  www.susankersley.co.uk/connectandchange but don’t delay places filling up and when they are gone, they’re gone!

Give Yourself a  Gift!
Give Yourself a Gift! Start looking after yourself more…..

Compassion fatigue in doctors?

Who heals the healers?
Who heals the healers?

I have a colleague who is writing a self-help book on burnout. She would be very interested in talking to any doctors or nurses who have experienced burnout or traumatic stress. If you, or anyone you know would be happy to share your experience, please email Sarah Kuipers on skuipers1@gmail.com and she will contact you to arrange a mutually convenient time to call you.

 

 

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‘The patient’s treatment begins with the doctor, so to speak. Only if the doctor knows how to cope with himself and his own problems will he be able to teach the patient to do the same.’  (C. G. Jung in Memories Dreams and Reflections)

Who do you turn to when you begin to wonder how you’ll get through the next few years? Do you believe  seeking help and support will be seen as a sign of weakness? Do you make it impossible or very difficult for people to connect with you? Can you make connections? Do you feel  vulnerable? Are you  frightened about seeking assistance for yourself? Do you believe you have to cope on your own? Do you have to know all the answers? Do you hate to admit  that you don’t know? Do  you consider that others will think less of you if you admit ignorance?

Do you put obstacles  between you and other people? Do you put up barriers to communication? Is it easy to enable a patient to tell you their most intimate thoughts and feelings but difficult for you to do the same to your Do you dread the phone ringing because you don’t want to speak to a patient? Are you going to wait until you are at crisis point? Who can support you now? Who can be there for you and accept who you are?

Is now is the moment to  make changes to improve the quality of your life so that  you can have time for family as well as patients, more time for your friends as well as your colleagues. You could have more time to  enjoy being away from work doing things you  haven’t done for years, such as going for a walk, a cycle ride, reading a book, painting, writing,  any other  almost forgotten hobby, whatever you’ve been saying to yourself ‘One day I’ll have time for such and such’ Now is the time to get more balance between your  medical work and the rest of your life, the part of you that may have been submerged for years.

Don’t wait until you’re ‘burnt out’. Re-discover who you are. Start to make small changes right now. Be clear about what you have to do against what you ‘should ‘do. Do what  you love to do. Teach others your skills so that you can   delegate more to them to do some or all of the boring things you are doing now.

Do you think that you are indispensable and no-one else can do what you do? Suppose you are unable to do your work for some reason or another, what then? Someone else will take over. They may not do it the same way you do. They may not even do it as efficiently as you did. But they will do it their way and hopefully it will get done.

It’s OK to  be ‘selfish.’ The word ‘selfish’ may have bad connotations. Start to look after yourself, physically and emotionally. Think about it meaning ‘self-care’ If you take more care of yourself and your own needs you will cope  more effortlessly with the needs of your patients. Don’t wait until you have to find solace in drink or drugs. Don’t wait until you reach crisis point. Start now. Find someone who will encourage and support you unconditionally. Someone who won’t have any expectations of you but will encourage you to achieve whatever you want.

Who can you talk to about your frustrations and difficulties of overwork as a doctor in an environment of being undervalued and endless demands? Do you have a mentor who understands?

When you experience the power of support and encouragement rather than demands and intimidation you will be able to coach your patients to do whatever they need to do, rather than reaching for the prescription pad again to write up yet more tablets destined to be put in the back of the bathroom cabinet with the others. When someone listens to your concerns and acknowledges them as legitimate, you will become a better listener to your patients and hear more of their underlying issues and so be able to give them the help they need. You will be able to convey to them that they can make a difference to their own lives when they take responsibility for it.

Every small change you as an individual make will eventually help to change the system. Take courage, start to care for yourself , much more. What will you do differently today?

“We deceive ourselves when we fancy that only weakness needs support. Strength needs it far more.”
-Madame Swetchine,

PS if you want to care for yourself  treat yourself to a few days away in April 2014 at Connect and Change (but hurry only limited places remain!)

 

 

 

Time for something different?

Have you ever wanted to do something different and know how much you want to do so, yet in spite of knowing what you want, the advantages, and exactly what you must do, yet you just don’t actually do it?

Time for something different?
Time for something different?

You may know what to do yet don’t have the confidence or the courage to take that step. It might be because someone else is trying unsuccessfully to encourage you because they are trying to persuade you to do something not your priority!

Yet with some non specific encouragement you can get to where you want to be more easily.

One way to gain the confidence to make changes is to do something creative. You don’t need any special skills except a willingness to try something new, something which will occupy your mind for a while. When you do this you not only feel energised and relaxed but also discover answers to challenges which have been bothering you.

Connect and Change offers an opportunity to experience some new things and get out of the box for a few days.
www.susankersley.co.uk/connectandchange

Meaning of medical and non-medical words

I remember many years ago asking a patient if she had experienced any abnormal bleeding. ‘No, no, doctor,’  she replied. ‘ No bleeding. But I have been haemorrhaging badly.’ !!

We used to avoid saying the word ‘cancer’ to patients. Instead we talked about them having a ‘lump’ or a ‘tumour’ or a ‘growth’ anything so long as the dreaded C word wasn’t said out loud. Nowadays it seems to be the fashion to say it even with little definite evidence. An elderly lady in her 90s told me she had bowel cancer, and she was desperately upset by this. She was told by her GP before any definitive investigations had taken place.

Words which confuse
Words which confuse

I’ve used a word recently – the word: ‘retreat’ which I realise might have very different meaning to some people who read it. I meant it as an opportunity to be away from your usual surroundings and by doing new and creative things you could experience being able to ‘sort things out’ come to conclusions about ways to improve your life, work life balance, self- care or decisions you need to make.

I didn’t mean a shutting away in silence as in ‘religious retreat’ Instead an opportunity to have a few days connecting and discovering new ways to change the way you think about a situation you may be stuck about.

Anyway from now on I will truly  make every attempt to use words without ambiguous meanings!

PS I was referring to Connect and Change for Doctors in Cornwall

 

Connecting with Nature is a great way for doctors to combat stress

Time spent in nature is the most cost-effective and powerful way to counteract the burnout and sort of depression that we feel when we sit in front of a computer all day. Richard Louv

What message you get from looking at nature?

SInce overwork, stress and burnout are now so common amongst doctors, it’s vital to learn techniques to prevent these overwhelming you so that you can cope with life as a doctor.
The quotation says it all:  spend  time in nature each day then you will feel bette.

But how can you do this when you live and work in a big city, in a massive busy hospital? You might need to have your own piece of nature on your windowsill, or in a vase, or take the chance to get outside to a local park or gardens when you have some time.  Discovering how to find that time is vitally important!

Notice how the changes in the different seasons affect you.  Become more aware as you look at  trees, plants, birds, ants and butterflies how you can, if you are open to the process, find  messages for you from the nature around you.

For example there are messages about renewal and growth; about new life emerging from the barrenness of winter; the determination and the motivation and perseverance of migrating birds travelling vast distances to reach their goals.

You can see that there is always change, nothing stays the same in nature, yet things end and new beginnings start.

Reflect for yourself  how nature can inform  something about your own life?

What messages  are you getting from nature?

Connect with Nature and feel refreshed

Another way to be refreshed, and rejuvenated is to get away from your busy environment for a few days and stay with a small group of medics (who may or may not be working in Medicine) in an area of outstanding natural beauty in West Cornwall near Land’s End.

CLICK  to find out more about the  Connect and Change a retreat for Doctors which I am facilitating in Cornwall  next April 2014.

By connecting with Nature and neglected parts of yourself you will change and return refreshed, relaxed and renewed to cope with life  again.

When you care for yourself much more and stop giving  all to others,  you will become so much more effective at caring for your patients.

Find out more about the Retreat HERE

 

 

 

 

Work Life ‘Balance’ Isn’t the answer

shutterstock_36977740Many doctors tell me that they want to have better work life balance, but they struggle to find a way to achieve it.

Working as a doctor can have it’s ups and downs. There ail be many days when you feel excited and exhilarated  yet others when you are exhausted and overwhelmed. Both of these states can affect your life and relationships outside of Medicine.

Yet if you don’t improve the balance in your life you may become more and more stressed and both your work and your personal life will suffer.

How do some doctors cope?

1. They realise that work and life outside work is a matter of finding ways to be effective in both though not necessarily in relation to time actually spent in each role. Stop trying to keep all aspects of your life in separate compartments. Sometimes your best ideas might come to you while playing with your children or engaging in sport.

2. Define for yourself what you want in your life and realise that your definition of success may be different from others. Decide to follow your own path in being successful in your various roles.

3. Set your own boundaries in relation to what you will or won’t do in all aspects of your life.When you do this you will be able to define what are your personal priorities  so that you designate time for friends and family and for your own self-care of body mind and spirit.

It’s your life: live it on your terms!

Coaching helps to get this sorted! 

Fed up? Want the system to change?

As a doctor who is  fed up with the system but as someone who hopes your life will change on its own, remember that the power is in your own hands to make the changes you really want.

If you believe that stress and overwork must always be part of working as a doctor and that those can’t change unless someone else does something or the system itself changes, then think again.

When you do things differently then other things around you change too and eventually the system itself will change as your lifestyle as a doctor changes too.

So, the best way to initiate change is for you to do something. Until you do something another way, your life will continue as before.

You have to take action, step out of your comfort zone, for your life experience to change. When you begin to do this, then others will react to what you do differently, because when you change, others change in their response to you.

Just like a spreadsheet, when one thing changes then everything else changes too. Without action on your part, your life will continue in the way it always has.

When you apply the simple strategies to your life you can live the life you truly want. So don’t delay any more. Start today to create the life you truly want: you can  have a more balanced life.

You can do it.

Coaching can enable you to succeed.

Call me!