Dr Hilton Koppe, a North Coast GP and educator has suggested the following wellbeing checklist – a useful guide for patients and for doctors and students too.• Physical wellbeing is essential for emotional wellbeing. It includes getting enough sleep, and eating, drinking and exercising properly. Short cuts inevitable result in sub-optimal functioning and doctors/students are not immune.
• Mental well-being is more than the absence of symptoms; doctors and medical students tend to be very self-critical and perfectionistic. You can begin to take note of repeated negative and self-defeating thoughts and learn how to challenge them. (see for example Change Your Thinking, by Sarah Edelman)
• Spiritual well-being differs for everyone, but one form of spiritual engagement comes from our relationship with natural world. Clinic buildings and hospitals aren't always the most natural of places, so make some form of outdoor activity a priority whenever you can.
• Relationships sometimes compete for our attention when work takes up a lot of our time, but they are extremely important in providing a sense of self-worth. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0081115
• Activities, such as work, are often allowed to take control of our lives. Once we assess those activities which build our well-being and those which erode it, we can control them. This assessment is easier to make if shared with someone close.
• The environment in your workplace may not seem like a high priority, but some workplaces are clearly depressing. Recognising the possibility of improving such conditions and making the decision to "fix" them can be rewarding.
It is usually easy to identify areas for improvement, but it takes effort to set realistic goals and to modify our lives to achieve these. The first step is to recognise a need and to develop a desire for change. You may need to enlist the support of your family, a friend, your general practitioner or another counsellor.