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.

Hide.

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.

 

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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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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,

Salma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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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Basically

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!

Salma.