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General Wellbeing

As primary care workers, you will doubtless already know the basic building blocks for a healthy life. Watch this short video by Dr Andrew Tresidder for an introduction to health and self-care, in which he explains how you can start to build your own health across several dimensions:

https://youtu.be/nrAQGMolqbk

As Andrew mentions, and as research has shown, factors that contribute positively to our health and wellbeing are:

  • Positive mood
  • Sleeping well
  • Exercise
  • Nourishing relationships
  • Reducing stress
  • Good nutrition

On the face of it, some of these factors appear easy to control. We can make a conscious decision to take regular exercise, eat a healthy diet and develop a good sleep regime. We can deliberately take time to connect with friends and family, nurturing those supportive relationships. If we can develop patterns or habits around these behaviours when things are going well, they can serve us positively when things are challenging. But when things are tough, everything feels harder to control and reducing stress and maintaining a positive mood can seem particularly hard.

Humans have a tendency to suffer from negativity bias. This means that we remember bad memories more easily and in greater detail than positive ones. It takes around five positive events to cancel out one negative event. This is probably evolutionary but is unhelpful in today's society, crammed as it is with a myriad of stressors. We also have a tendency to work on the basis that achievement will bring happiness, when in reality it is the other way around. As a result, we have to choose to train our brains away from their natural default position towards one of greater positivity, in the same way that we make conscious decisions around other factors that benefit our health and wellbeing.

One of the ways we can do this is to follow the ideals of positive psychology and complete five exercises each day:

  1. Exercise - this teaches your brain that your behavior matters, alongside it's more obvious health-enhancing benefits.
  2. Meditation - this doesn't have to be a formal endeavour if that's not your style; spending a few minutes focusing on your breathing can be enough to calm your thoughts and allow your brain to deal with one problem at a time.
  3. Three gratitudes - recording three new things each day that you are grateful for (no matter how small) retrains your brain to seek things to be grateful for, looking for those positives that are out there but that otherwise get swamped by the negatives
  4. Journalling - about one positive experience each day, allows your brain to relive it, with the subsequent release of positive hormones
  5. Random or conscious acts of kindness - again, this doesn't have to be a grand gesture, simply writing an email of thanks to a colleague for the support they give you is sufficient. Kindness begets kindness and, even if it doesn't, the act of being kind floods your brain and body with positive hormones

If you would like more information around this, consider watching Shawn Achor's YouTube clip on The Happy Secret to Better Work:

Download the Positive psychology worksheet to give you a daily prompt if that's helpful, or simply keep your own journal

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  • Avon GPSH is funded by Avon LMC.
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    by the Clinician Support Service
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  • Credits
  • Original idea: Roger Crabtree
  • Research and Text: Lynn Collins
  • Website Design: Anne Hicks
  • Website Construction and Maintenance: Careers Systems