the one with the rest

Baby girl, slow down. Take a breath. There is plenty of time for life’s stress.

Set some boundaries.

Get outside.

Read a book.


Have some tea.

Ignore those texts.

There’s only so much space in your head.

Tell them no, protect your space.

There’s only so much one person can take.

Calm your mind.

Stretch your legs.

Nourish your body.

Indulge your sweet tooth.

Throw away the lists.

and exhale.



faith and shadow beliefs

For every doubt I have ever had in my life, when I haven’t been able to rely on myself I have always had faith in God. I call God Allah. You might call it something else. Or maybe you don’t believe in anything. Some believe in a higher being but don’t equate that with any religious beliefs. Anyway, that’s beside the point.

The whole point of this blog post is to talk about shadow beliefs.

We all have belief systems. Some are often more correct than others and some we need to check- we all have that beautiful friend who thinks they are ugly! But there are also the less obvious belief systems. The shadow beliefs we have. The ones that lurk around and are formed insidiously.

For all of my self doubt and inaccurate views of my own ability at times- my shadow belief- that I will always be ok continues to lift me through life. Thanks Mum. I have been listening to your lectures all these years.

As tough as life can get, that really is my core belief and at the heart of that is God. I truly  believe God will always have my back and that faith carries me through life.

This week it carried me through my first ever on call shift.

I did no harm. I was helpful. I learn. And I was bloody grateful to get to finally step into the role of my dream job for a few hours on call.

As terrified as I was- even when my confidence wavers- I know that I will always be ok. I’ve got Godfidence.

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That doesn’t mean I think I will never go through difficult times, on call, in life, at home- wherever- that’s just life. But when all of that is said and done I know that I will be ok.

Shadow beliefs are powerful things.

If yours aren’t helpful to you or your life, it really is worth spending the time evaluating them. As much as they can carry you through life, they can also drag you down. And no one needs dead weight in their life.

Until the next post,

Salma x




Life’s whispers

I’m quite an extreme person. I don’t really sit on the fence about the things that I like. I don’t like my friends a bit- I love them. That’s why I have a small circle of amazing friends who I know would do anything for me. Anyway, I’m waffling. My point is, I don’t like Oprah. I love her.

The OG. The gift that keeps on giving. When this woman speaks I pay attention. So. Much. Wisdom.

One of my favourite ever Oprah quote is “your life is constantly speaking to you”.

Ah. The truth.

This year hasn’t even ended but I already know that it will go down as one of those years. You know, the ones you look back at and say, damnnnnn. That was intense. The biggest highs and the biggest lows. In those times- good and bad- the best thing that I have learnt is to  shut up and start paying attention.

The answers are always there. And as Oprah says herself, you don’t need to know all the steps, just the next one. And then the next one, and the next one. One baby step at a time.

But IMO the most important and first step is to get quiet. Figure out what you want. Listen to the whispers. I do that through praying, or meditation (ah, headspace my love) or time alone from everyone and everything. It doesn’t really matter how you do it but I’ve realised that you must.

Here’s Miss O saying the same thing in a much more eloquent way.

Happy whisper listening.

Salma x

Three minutes to stop and breathe: how an app changed my working life

This blog was written for the BMA.

Exhausted, losing weight, looking miserable. This was not how I had imagined my life as a doctor.

As the F1 on acute medicine I struggled to balance treating my patients well and looking after myself. There is no shortcut to learning how to deal with a patient with severe chest pain, an angry family wanting to speak right away and a microbiology consultant on the phone, all at the same time. In the end the skills I learned – such as how to prioritise – still help me to this day. But that came at a cost to my physical and mental health.

I would bend over backwards for my patients but I wouldn’t prioritise myself, my lunch breaks or my right to hand over jobs. And long term, tired doctors aren’t in their optimum state to look after patients.

I did the best I could, but I knew this couldn’t carry on for two years. I made changes, I went to the gym more, made sure I enjoyed all my time off and started meditating.

No junior doctor gets to the end of two years without major highs and lows. It’s a learning curve, and I learnt the hard way just how important it is to look after myself. One day at the end of F2, I was doing nights, and I had to pack up my house and drive my stuff over 200 miles to my parents’ house, pack for a friend’s wedding and sort out accommodation on the opposite side of the country for my new job. I felt acutely stressed and needed something to help.

I remembered my GP teaching – we’d been recapping treatments for depression and our tutor mentioned the Headspace app, recommending we try it. In my moment of panic, I downloaded it and did a three-minute exercise: sitting on a chair and breathing. Easy, right? Well, harder than you might think actually, but that three-minute pause was what I needed. It got me out of my ‘oh my God’ state and into ‘let’s do this’. Thankfully there was no chanting, no annoying music and no great demand on my time.

It helped me when I was feeling stressed, but also when I wasn’t. ‘Prevention is better than cure’: we say this to our patients all the time, in the guise of ‘what’s your diet like?’ or ‘do you smoke?’, but the same can be said about mental health.

When I was on holiday and waiting to start working in radiology, my friend, also a doctor, found it strange that I would continue to meditate every day. But I knew that radiology and moving across the country would have its own challenges, and I wanted to keep up the habit.

I wasn’t wrong. I’m now a few months into training, working and preparing for exams. It’s both the best and worst thing about medicine: you’re never finished. And then you have life’s ups and downs too.

For me, Headspace gives me time away from all of that. Time just for me; sometimes it’s the only time I get. I use it when I can – sometimes on the park and ride into work, on my lunch break or at the end of the day. All you need is a phone and headphones. Half the time people must think I’m napping! And some days I can’t fit it in, and that’s OK too.

Everyone needs a moment to just stop and breathe. I wish I had used Headspace earlier as a doctor. On those busy crazy days, a three-minute ‘time out’ to regroup would have been really beneficial. It’s easy to be sceptical – I know meditation seems hippy and new age to some people – but my advice is, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

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Tips on surviving in a new place!

So I’ve had a lot going on recently. But in summary I’ve had a big house move and the starting of a new job in a completely new region. Essentially walking away from all the familiar things in my life. *INSERT INTERNAL FREAKOUT HERE*

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The freakout

I’m writing this blog post at the very start of all of that because I won’t be able to relate to  this in a few weeks time so whilst it’s fresh in my head and I’m living it, I’m writing about it.

Moving to a new region is HUGE especially when it’s far away from family and friends so I’m gonna share some of my top tips with you all.

1 -My biggest tip would be be ok with not being OK. Freakout are allowed. I left a place that I had just about become relatively settled in for an area I knew nothing about and where I knew nobody. What the hell had I done?! I think normalising that thinking is really helpful. Trying to cover it up or force yourself to be OK when you’re really not isn’t helpful. Those feelings won’t go by burying them and burying them makes them harder to deal with.

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Going home my first weekend and surprising my Mum with flowers

2- Get some perspective. Or try to. Chances are you’ve moved away for a great reason. For me it was getting into my dream speciality albeit it my not first choice location. Yes there are things that aren’t ideal but how incredibly lucky I am to be doing a job that I LOVE, get in my first year of applying (which lots of people don’t) and be the youngest person in my year of training. There are people who have the exact same move as me to a different country. Or with children they’ve had to move to a different school. It’s a move, it’s really not that deep.

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3-Keep some sort of routine. When so many things are changing it’s important to hold onto some of continuum. Those things that make you happy, keep doing them. For me it’s going to the gym, talking to my family, meditating, praying, eating well, making sure my eyebrows don’t let the rest of my face down. Whatever it is for you, keep doing it. It’s important anyway but when everything is changing it’s essential.

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Loving my daily meditations from Headspace

4-Use your team. Remember that time when your friend called you crying at 2am because the guy she was in love with got married and you spoke to her for hours. Well this is your time to do that kind of stuff if you need it. I had friends and family offer to come and stay with me and my whatsap was popping with “just making sure you’re ok, let me know if you need anything”. Don’t be too proud to ask for help when you need it. Sometimes a phone call makes all the difference. Whatever you need take it! If you’ve been a good friend to someone else they will have no problem with repaying the favour and would be happy to (if they’re a good friend). Pick your friends wisely so when you go through something hard in life they do overtime for you, I’m very very grateful for mine. If you’re on that team and reading this THANK YOU!

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5- Don’t go it alone. Chances are if you’ve moved to a new area for work there will be other people in the same boat as you. Talk to them! My sister gave me very strict instructions “don’t be antisocial, make effort with people” and it was effort for me. I already felt like I had my friends and didn’t particularly want any more but you need to make an effort with people. You might not meet a new best friend but having someone close by you can hang out with or go to the gym with is important. And part of that process is being open with people and making an effort.

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Dinner with new friends

6- If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will spend its whole life thinking its stupid. Equally if you’re in London and you judge it by its lack of beaches you will think it is rubbish. Not every location has everything. Don’t look at is for what it doesn’t have, look at it for what it does. It might sound like a small thing but a small change in perspective can change everything. I don’t have a Zara close to me (I’m slowly getting over this) and my bank balance can breath a sigh of relief, but I do have some of the most beautiful beaches in England a short drive away. What a shame to focus on what is “missing” instead of focusing on what I have around me.

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Not to shabby for an after work walk

7- Go home. This might sound counter intuitive but for me it was so helpful. In the first week of my move I was doing great. Until Thursday. Then I had a little (massive) freakout and wanted to run home so I did. The drive was long but I didn’t care. I was home the whole weekend and planned nothing which is SO not like me but it was exactly what I needed. A little home comfort and some words of encouragement to pick me back up again.

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Halfway home break

8- Give it time. No one settles into a new place in a week so give it time and patient with the place and yourself.

9- Communication is key. Friends and family might be far away but technology is amazing. As I’m typing this I’m also FaceTiming my sister who is folding clothes and talking to her children. I’m not with her, but she feels pretty close. Pick up the phone or use FaceTime.

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Weekend cuddles with my Lana banana

10- I think my last tip would be nothing is the end of the world and there is noting that can’t be undone. If you’re miserable in a place for months (which I doubt will be the case) you can always reevaluate things. There are always options but at the start just give it a chance and go with the flow.


If you’ve made it this far, well done! Hope it was helpful.

Until the next post!


Waiting for the perfect timing

After my friend finished uni, I went to visit her and she spent the day showing me around the city she had called home for 3 years. It was a glorious day. Sunny skies, cycling, and more food than you can shake a stick at.

“Time to start living my life” she proclaimed.

She had plans. That holiday trip she had always wanted to take. That hairstyle she had always wanted to try out. Quality time with her friends.

Fast forward a few weeks. She landed a job in the city, started revision for exams and that blissful day and those plans were put on the back burner.

She started working on a new plan. The “tick-box life plan” (official name, just coined by yours truly). When the boxes were ticked, she could enjoy life. You can see the flaw.

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For the planners amongst you (hello most of my friends) this list will look pretty familiar. Now, I can’t say I have an issue with planning per se. But it does become a bit of an issue when it interferes with your happiness in the present.

If you are always looking to the next thing that you feel you should be doing you might be missing out on what’s actually happening in your life at the moment. And this time is NEVER COMING BACK.

I think I spent at least 3 years at Medical School being “too busy” to play netball. Or too busy to go and visit my friend. Or too busy to go out. I was so transfixed on “get your degree” that I forgot to live at the same time. So it was really no surprise that I was quite burnt out and not enjoying Medicine at the end of year 3.

Taking a year out from Medicine to Intercalate gave me time I needed to get a bit of perspective and shake myself to say “wake up woman, life is happening now and you’re missing everything”.

So yes. Plan my friends. But don’t forget to enjoy the ride. Whatever you are doing or whatever stage you are at in life. Life IS busy. You will ALWAYS be busy. There isn’t a RIGHT TIME to go and visit that aunty you have been meaning to see. Just GO and do it. I’m not suggesting that you be reckless. If you have an exam on Monday the weekend before probably isn’t the best time to go and do that… BUT you MUST GO because that perfect time doesn’t exist. And ticking all the boxes in the world won’t give you that time either. It’s an illusion. My friends who get married or land that dream job don’t suddenly become fulfilled in life and do all those things they have always wanted to do.

I’m off to book a rock climbing session because, the cliché, there is no time like the present is a cliché for a reason.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend xxx

Enjoying an hour off revision because there is only a massive slide on Park Street once
Enjoying an hour off revision because there is only a massive slide on Park Street once

PS-If you have no idea what I’m talking about then have a look at this

Staying sane at Medical School: an idiot guide

It might seem like quite a basic thing but my experience is that it doesn’t come naturally to all of us and can definitely be neglected. In my first year of medicine I muddled through but with no real plan of how to look after myself and believe me, it’s just as important as getting through the degree itself!  This IS the end goal, but your health (and sanity) is a priory too!

Here’s a list of things that I do that might help you if you haven’t already got a strategy:

1- Exercise. I use to do this when I was really stressed and go running at ridiculous times of the night but these days I go as often as I can and it helps to relieve me of stress before things get bad.

2- Talk to somebody. It really helps me to talk about what I feeling am stressed about. I have been lucky to have supportive flat mates but if you want someone to talk to your university are also there to help. At Bristol you can find support at

3-Have proper breaks. For me this means going home. I use to think that this was a waste of time but now I see how important this is. There is only so much work you can do before you NEED a break. Medicine will NEVER tell you to have a break. There is always more to learn. But you need to give yourself a breather.

4- Allow yourself to question if Medicine is for you or not. In my third year of Medical school I hated clinical Medicine. So I took a year out an intercalated. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I missed medicine a lot and this was the confirmation that I needed that this WAS what I wanted to do. Medical School is a hard and long process and if you have doubts it’s OK. Most people I know have questioned why they are doing medicine at some point or another. Give yourself a chance to change your mind. It’s not the end of the world. I think it would be a travesty to get to 5 years of Med school and have hated it all along.

5- Get a bit of perspective. This can be hard at the time. Our work can take over our lives, but in the grand scheme of things, if your biggest problem in life is your medical school exams, you are doing ok in life. (Well, this is what I tell myself anyway!)

6- Don’t suffer in silence. People don’t write Facebook statuses saying “I failed my exam and I feel crap about life”. But they do. These things happen. A lot. And if you do fail an exam, or feel really stressed, hear me when I say YOU ARE NOT ALONE and this crappy period in your life WILL pass and you will be better for it.

7- Treat yourself. I have a mantra that I say to myself which is “gotta look after number one”. That’s you! My Mum has drilled this into me and in an all consuming emotionally, mentally and physically draining profession this is crucial. How you define this is up to you but make sure you do look after number one! Medicine is important, but at the end of the day, you should come first.

Coctail. Candles. Running. Family. Friends that became family. How I get through Medical School.
Coctail. Candles. Running. Family. Friends that became family. How I get through Medical School.

Inspirational Women part 1

That girl who seems to have it all. We all know at least one person like that. You might envy her hair, clothes, her job or all the things I just mentioned. But, I have come to realise that if you let that determine your own self worth you feel totally inadequate.

I propose a new way forward. Being selfish and focusing on yourself.

You are on your journey and someone else is on theirs.

Contrary to comparing myself to those doing better than me, I choose to celebrate and promote them and most importantly learn from them instead.

With this in mind this week I will be celebrating inspirational women in my life who I have interviewed for Aawaz.

First to feature is the beautiful Noreen Khan.

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Why did I choose Noreen?

Noreen is on my list for a few reasons but first and foremost, I think Noreen is a hard worker. She does all of her own PR work and is constantly building her brand on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. She is good at what she does and she is dedicated. She has also branched out into other ares with a fashion line, Noreen Khan Couture, and more recently NK Accessories. The hard work never ends and that for me is inspiring.

Noreen tell us a bit about you…

I’m a radio DJ on BBC Asian Network, I host and compere events and I do a bit of telly now and again! 

Noreen tell us what you are most proud of…

One of my successes that I’m most proud of is having the most listened to Asian radio show in the UK and another is setting up my own business when I was just 21!

What advice would you give 10  year old Noreen?

Firstly would be to enjoy being the tallest in your year group! When I was 10  the boys would pick on me and call me names because I was taller than them, but they caught up pretty quickly.
Secondly I’d say don’t worry if you don’t win every time, I was very competitive and would get upset if I didn’t win netball matches or get top marks in my times tables test!

For those reader who want to find out more about you where can they go?

I have a website:

Or just follow me on twitter to see what I get up to!

Aawaz would like to thank Noreen for taking the time to be interviewed.

social media sabbatical

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Prevention is better than cure. We’ve all heard it. You don’t have to be a doctor or in any way related to the healthcare profession to have gotten that message. You might even be sick of it by now. All the smoking cessation adverts or the constant media scar mongering.

Some of it is a bit overboard I’ll agree but having worker as a doctor for a few years now, I’ve seen my fair share of patients with conditions that were avoidable in some sense. I don’t just mean physical conditions and the obvious culprits such as obesity I’m also talking about mental health.

Whilst I haven’t suffered depression or a mental health condition myself it has alway been something in the back of my mind that I have been conscious of. Working long hours as a junior doctor, initially in a new area with no real social network of friend or family set up for myself, I was a prime target. I use to think looking from the outside it wouldn’t be surprising if I had a patient who was in my shoes who was depressed. Especially after those exhausting on call weeks!

That’s why I’ve tried to make an effort to notice how I was feeling and how different activities made me feel. I had seen patients with depression who were really suffering and whilst I also was fortunate enough to see some at the other end of the tunnel this wasn’t the case for everyone. I didn’t want to risk it.

Oprah once said your life’s constantly talking to you and when you don’t listen that whisper turns into a ton of bricks falling down around you.

They say it’s not wisdom until you actually implement it into your life and recently I listened to the whispers in my life and a made a few changes.

I took a big step back from social media.

Going with my prevention is better than cure, I started to be more conscious of how certain things made me felt and what role they played in my life. I looked at myself as both a consumer and a part of social media. The truth was I didn’t like what I saw.

For any time I would look on Instagram I would ask myself “what value is this adding to my life”. Looking at the super rich in their amazing clothes and holidays added very little value to mine. Then there were some account which one could group as “inspirational”. In fact there are some pretty great doctors out there making pretty big waves on social media from promoting healthy ways to eat to motiving people to work out more.

But again if I was really honest with myself, how was that beneficial to my life beyond the benefit they have already had? On balance most of the stuff I end up looking at was frivolous and whilst that’s ok at times, these apps are designed to be addictive and 5 minutes here and there soon adds up and that’s time that I wouldn’t choose to use in this way. I would just end up doing so!

Everyone is so happy to show everyone the highlight reel of their life. We all know no ones life is perfect but when you look at those perfectly captures “candid pictures” with Valencia and the perfect amount of brightness and contrast, we forget. Or at least I do. And that I think can be very damaging. Because we compare our reality to someones else perfected squares.

Facebook is the same. For every engagement picture there are triple the heartbreaks and breakups I’m sure. But we don’t hear about that.

And I’m in that group too. I don’t post the crap times of my life either but posting the best bits of my life makes me feel uncomfortable too. I’m not 100% sure why. I guess a part of my feel that it’s a bit dishonest putting one side of the story. Another is I don’t want the world knowing what I’m doing. I guess I don’t find Facebook useful at the moment. I’m not interested in keep up to date with everyone else’s life.

If you’re my friend I already know. We keep in touch in other ways.

Since deactivating my Facebook and getting Instagram off my phone I feel happier. I have noticed my concentration levels have increased and my time feels like my time now. Where I would show off about doing certain thing I don’t have to spend the time to think about which picture to use or which caption. I switch off.

Your mind and your attention are so precious and I don’t want to waste them on things that don’t serve that attention.

I still have my Instagram and my Facebook is deactivated for now. I’m not against social media but I am against wasting time and continuing with old behaviour just because “everyone does it”. I still check Instagram once a day but I’ve taken a backseat to my consumption and uploader status for a while and that’s suiting me just fine.

Whatever your opinion on social media, I hope thing made you think a little. You might love it and get so much out of it in which case carry on! But if you don’t and you don’t find it to be a good thing in your life then perhaps a little sabbatical or just what you need.

Until the next post,























do you boo

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One of the commonest things I notice about people who are lacking confidence is that they don’t realise their own self worth.

Now if this was a trivial things that didn’t really have any life implications I wouldn’t dwell on it but it really isn’t. These past few months I’ve really been struck by a few (mainly female) people I have met who don’t value themselves enough.

The thing that everyone needs to realise in my opinion if that NO ONE can offer what they can and that makes us all unique. And that in itself makes everyone pretty badass in my book. But not considering that and worrying about what Tallula has that you don’t is so disempowering and is the stupidest thing you can do.

Worrying about Tallula won’t help you in any way. If anything it will harm you because you stop focusing on you. It is such an unnecessary distraction and in this social media age we could all do with fewer of those.

So here is my advice. Do what no one else can. Do you boo, and don’t ever worry about anything else.

Until the next post,

Salma xxx