Mind ninja for burnout – simple strategies in prevention

The signs

“I became anxious about the smaller things aswell as the big, even though I’m not a naturally anxious person.”

“I lost interest in things I used to be passionate about.”

“I was irritable, with poor concentration, and worried that my work would suffer”

“A good nights sleep became a bit of a mystery.”

“I’d catch myself clenching and grinding at night”

“Recurring headaches, back, neck and body pains that I assumed were all just part of poor posture or ageing”

Experiencing burnout really took me by surprise. Before I knew it, I had snowballed from a sense of calm to a lower threshold to stressors, a heightened state of anxiety and a tonne of physical symptoms – migaraines and electric shock back pain. I remember coming home from another long day from work, feeling utterly drained. I began to question if it were normal to feel zapped and this out of energy. It became clear that I had missed the early signs and reached crisis point.

Becoming overwhelmed by stress and burnout doesn’t need to be an inevitable part of your dental journey. Here are some simple tips to help you recognise its time to prioritise your mind.

1.Checking in

I found the first step to understanding myself better was to start with making time for self reflection. The easiest way I found to do this was by checking in regularly with my emotions, thoughts and attitudes. Ask yourself how you are feeling and why? If you priortise checking in during your day then the skill of self reflection and awareness increases.,

2.Understanding your narrative

Getting to understanding the themes of your thoughts that come up daily helps you to join the dots and appreciating why you feel a certain way can help you become more compassionate to yourself. It’ll also help to lessen the impact of the uncomfortable feeling.

3. Staying with the feeling

This can be very difficult, but pushing away, denying or distracting yourself from that emotion often seems to make you feel more triggered. Instead try allowing the feeling to enter. Sit with the discomfort by reminding yourself that its temporary. The pain of these negative feelings are essential – they are telling you a story and want to be heard.

4. Up coping mechanisms

This may range from the simple sleep early, feed and water yourself and exercise, to mindfulness, journalling or creativity. Coping mechanisms help you nurse yourself to health. Find what woks best for you and up those activities.

5. Breathe

Breathing exercises make a massive difference. This may be simply focusing on your breath for 2 mins when you wake up or a guided mindfulness mediation session following an app – whatever it is big or small, the effects are instant and life changing.

The science part: when your exhale is longer then the inhale your prasympathetic nervous system is activated. This has the effect of slowing you down, increasing calm and focus.

6. Slow down

Say no to extra commitments and give yourself permission to do less. This practice is one of self compassion. While its good to have goals and aim high, at a time of stress, its healthier for you to recognise that now is the time to recuperate.

7. Speak to others

It can be easy to normalise certain thoughts and deny their significance, but speaking to others honestly can open the door to greater connection and understanding your thoughts better too. Saying aloud your emotions also seems to give that feeling less power over you.

You may confide in family or family. Alternatively, having a safe space to talk through things with a therapist could be beneficial.

Healing

Healing from stress and burnout is not always a linear process. I realised the key was bucket loads of self compassion. You are brave and more resilient then you realise. Sometimes the best approach is to look at taking small steps forward and having the faith that you’re making the way to better days.

Gif: @xavieralopez

Nutrition at Big Vision Conference

Physical health as well as mental, plays a big part in our wellbeing. I’m very excited to announce Dr Vian Shathur will be speaking on this important theme at our Big Vision conference on 30th November 2019.

Vian graduated from Cardiff University with a degree in BioMedicine (Anatomy), Batchelor of Dental surgery and a Diploma in Sports and clinical nutrition. She published her book on the basics of nutrition and healthy recipe creation during her last year of University.

Currently she works at a dental practice in Notting Hill, is a Facial aesthetics Doctor on weekends and a part-time fitness and food blogger.

Vian loves going to the gym daily, creating healthy recipes and blogging about nutrition all on her website: VeesFitnessFood.com.

She started her own series known as #DentalTipsTuesday educating others about oral health on her Instagram page @VeesFitnessFood. Vian also volunteers at a homeless shelter.

As a Dentist and fitness enthusiast, her goal is to show people that living a healthy lifestyle need not be restrictive or difficult to do.

For tickets for conference, please follow the Get tickets, check out Eventbrite listing http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/big-vision-conference-tickets-59357324355

All proceeds go to Mind πŸ₯³

The Little Hedgehogs

Two young hedgehogs lived in a cosy cottage by the sea with their parents. Each day they would run and chase each other excitedly, playing with flowers, jumping on crunchy leaves and making each laugh with glee.

They were equally as strong physically, but there was a crucial difference.

One hedgehog was optimistic, carefree and always lived in hope, while the other was pessimistic and dwelled in despair.One summer’s day, they decided to venture much further out to a beautiful waterfall. The water cascaded against the pretty rocks and glistened in the sunshine leaving a golden dew. The flowers here glowed like jewels. The water a wondrous blue and white froth.

“You could even catch a glimpse of your face if you come close enough”, exclaimed the optimistic hedgehog. And so, their first time teetering on the edge of the waterfall, led them to accidentally slip and fall into the water.
They tried to regain balance but the tide was strong and with being new swimmers, they got whisked further downstream.

After some struggle, the pessimistic hedgehog cried, β€œIt is impossible to jump out. Even though I have strength, I am so tired. I can’t swim that long”. Thinking this, the hedgehog did become exhausted soon. She could not swim any longer.

She was almost about to give up when she was reminded of the voice of her optimistic sister always encouraging her to keep fighting. What would my sister say? The voice came even louder this time – β€œIt seems difficult to jump out but maybe some miracle will happen. If I try a little longer, something good will happen. It is a question of only a few minutes more and then I will be out of here.”

This time the pessimistic hedgehog kept on swimming and hoping. She managed to catch a branch and pull her way onto land. She ran all the way to the bottom of the stream with a branch and helped her optimistic sister climb out.

Positive thinking and reframing had saved the life of these hedgehogs.

This parable was written in convey the significance of how our thoughts influence our reality. This tranformative magic trick really has the power to propel you to heights you didn’t even know you were capable of.

Inner critical voice

The second instalment of Get Calm, a series of podcasts on preventing burnout and enhancing emotional resilience is out now. This episode is with the psychotherapist Sam Morris on a big mental block many of us face within the profession – that is challenging the inner critic and encouraging the positive cheerleader. I believe currently there is a massive gap in our education. There is so much more we can learn about the mind to help empower and equip us for life as a healthcare professional.

As always, I would love to hear your feedback and about your journey. Its so important that we share our vulnerabilities more. We can make a big difference with our stories. Sending you light and love as always.

Exercise at home made easy

I LOVE this cute gif! Especially the kitten also chiming in. On a more serious note, there are soo many exercises you can fit in without having to leaRocketve the comfort of your home. And thats a hack I can seriously dig πŸ‘ŒπŸ½

Try:
– Down dog (a guided yoga app) – try the free sessions before you committ to subscribing monthly
– Squats – and if your feeling brave, side squats!
– Star jumps – get nostalgic with this one
– Rocket jumps
– Planks

Its ok to start small and build on it. Making small amounts of progress each time is the idea πŸ€ΈπŸ½β€β™€οΈ

Rocket jumps

Slow down

Slow down. Give yourself permission to slow down.

In a world where productivity is revered, and social media posts give an idealised version of reality, it is very easy to get lost in the narrative of ‘I’m not good enough’.

And what can slowing down do for me? I find its gives space for me to feel rested, energised and far more connected with myself. I found it especially relevant when I experienced burnout. I now make sure I enforce it as a preventative measure. For someone on the other end of the extreme lately, with a buzz of ideas and projects, slowing down has in many ways been the ultimate self care tool. Its also ironically very handy in enhancing creativity.

The act of slowing down and doing nothing surprisingly enough is backed up by science. Neuroscience research reveals that its better for our brains. In our hunter gather days, we would have dedicated time for daydreaming. In todays fast paced life, slowing down is simply neccessary for our mental wellness.

Some tips on slowing down;

1. Creating hygglig moments – this is the Danish word for taking the pleasure in the simple things. This year I discovered this Danish concept and I’m obssessed. I love it because it really creates the perfect atmosphere for slowing down plus enhancing gratitude. Examples of hygge range from savouring a cup of coffee to getting mesmerized by the cosy strokes of a raging fire to reading a book surrounded by candles, cushions and a warm blanket snug as a bug. Its all about creating a warm glowing ambience. For more info check out Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge and also the founder of The Happiness Institute (yes, it exists!). Denmark routinely acheives happiest in the world status so clearly they are doing something right.

Open fire outside a fish bar in Copenhagen

Hygglig street in Alfama, Lisbon

2. Catch a sunset – To think this magic show is on display daily and we miss it is a little mind blowing. Its a really great way of slowing down. Go soak in an explosion of colour and get an energy boost whike your soul fills up on the beauty of everyday life.

Stork at Moonlight; Canon hill park

Danson Park, Sidcup

3. Get mindful in Nature – This can be the easiest way to focus attention away from overthinking by simply slowing down, focusing on breathing and the sights plus sounds of Nature.

Quinta da regaleira, Sintra

4. Get up close and personal with water – Whether this may mean revelling in a long warm shower or getting to the beach to watch the waves crash against your feet, water has an incredible effect on the racing mind.

5. Cloud watching- This was a fun hobby as a kid but who says we can’t play as an adult? Lie down on the grass and get cosy ☁️☁️☁️

For those who love Ted talks as much as I do, there is an awesome one by the biologist and writer Tijs Goldschmidt who argues the importance of lounging in avoiding burnout.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please comment and share your tips on slowing down. All photos taken by me in the quest as always to create, find and foster calm.

Grab a green workout

My relationship with Nature started when I experienced burnout 3 years ago. It was for me a TRANSFORMATIVE super power to cmbine nature with exercise, that is it shifted me from detachment to connection. I noticed visible positive impact on my mental wellness. After a hike, I was much more able to withstand daily stressors and become less reactive.

The benefits of a green workout are so widely publicised now that Gps prescribe it as part of your mental toolkit. Studies show the improvement in mood and reduction in anxiety and depression. Simply being around green has been shown to decrease stress! Along with the boost of Vitamin D, a green workout is a simple hack to enhancing your psychological wellbeing.For those of you looking at novel ways of grabbing a green workout, one I recommend is a hike with your furry friend 🐾 The pictures are from a husky hike in the beautiful Kent countryside. Meet Chester, a husky pup with an instiable appetite for exploring 😏