Looking after yourself is often the first thing to fall by the wayside when you’re stressed; with poor diet, poor sleep hygiene, exhaustion, dehydration and illness often piling up.Body
Keep Calm is a stress management and resilience building workshop developed by doctors for doctors at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and delivered throughout Wessex for doctors in training grades.
Here you will find resources for those running the workshops as well as a structure and useful links for those wishing to consider their own resilience and management of stress.
Keep Calm Aims
⇒ To acknowledge the stresses of clinical work
⇒ To recognise the impact clinician stress has on patients and colleagues
⇒ To look at quick and simple ways to manage our stress
⇒ To set ourselves goals to take care of ourselves
Stress is a significant problem amongst clinical staff, with most unaware of their own stress levels and even fewer the impact this stress has on those around them, be they colleagues and patients.
Stress is obviously not unique to medicine, it is associated with every high intensity people orientated service job. Some of the human distress we witness is, however, perhaps aside from the experience of military personnel, especially traumatic. Stress does not only have an impact on personal well-being, but also on team function, safety and outcomes.
By focusing on our own health and well being we can hope to improve our patient’s experience.
Unhealthy coping mechanisms often start early, even at medical school and especially as a junior doctor. As exam or work pressure increases, socialising and exercise can often decrease, with stress, depression and isolation easily setting in. Stress leaves us vulnerable to maladaptive behaviours such as self-prescribing and calling in sick or working when we should not. Poor sleep hygiene is an occupational hazard, as is the ability to consistently eat a healthy diet and even maintain our fluid intake. Without actively correcting them as early as possible, behaviours such as drinking, poor eating, and thinking errors including guilt and perfectionism can become entrenched as habits which are difficult to break.
Insight and awareness along with good habits, skills and behaviours can be protective in the avoidance of unproductive stress. Keep Calm aims to improve self awareness of our own resilience and provide some ways to help us survive the stressful environment in which we work.
The Keep Calm Workshop
Keep Calm is designed to run over a half day (four hours) and works well with ten-15 participants. The evaluation suggests that it runs best when consultant/senior clinicians, who are able to work with the participants as equals, share some of their own experiences and acknowledge the stresses and traumas that being a clinician brings, facilitate the session.
Keep Calm involves a check up for yourself in five key areas you can read more about in the sections below.
Stress is a healthy reaction to pressured situations. Stress can be positive when it helps us stretch ourselves but is a negative experience when perceived demand outweighs perceived coping ability.Mind
Everyone’s behaviour changes to some degree when under pressure. Realising how your behaviour changes and identifying your own negative reactions can be the key to managing stress and maintaining a happy, harmonious working life.Behaviour
Our environment is sometimes hard to change, such as the hospital as it is, but we do have some influence over our home, our family, friends, social life and leisure environments.Environment
This part is about knowing who you are and what your values and motivations are – the real you.Spirit
If you are planning on running a session we would recommend you come on a train the trainers day, or at least take part in a session as an observer.Workshop resources
Acknowledgements: With thanks to the following people for their support in developing the Keep Calm programme: Sarah Smyth and Eleri Clissold – Foundation Doctors, University Hospitals Southampton NHS FTMargaret O’Rourke, Professor of Forensic Psychology, University of Cork Susie Tanser, Consultant in Intensive Care, University Hospitals Southampton NHS FT