Burning the bridge to burnout

Karen discusses how incorporating physical activity into the workplace can help to improve mental wellbeing and reduce stress.

Karen Wallace, GP - GPST3 Leadership Scholar

As doctors, many of us are good at spotting the warning signs and suggesting how to reduce risk. But are we taking the time to heed our own advice?

Stress can have a negative impact on health – playing havoc with our immune system and increasing our chances of a heart attack.

We recommend our patients engage in 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week as a way to control their stress levels – in reality, only one in five doctors are achieving this goal.

NICE’s guidance on physical activity in the workplace mentions those people working in the NHS. By making minor changes to our daily routine and incorporating physical activity into the workplace we can start to see the benefits, the guidance says.

The renowned cycle to work scheme is a useful option for some GPs who have a designated practice car for their home visits. And NICE also suggests choosing an ‘active travel champion’ who will organise activities to encourage more physical exercise during the working day.

These simple ideas taken from the NICE guidance are easy to put into practice, and they could help you and your colleagues fit some physical activity into their increasingly busy working day.

I recently put forward a suggestion at a GP conference about creating team activities for groups of people working at clusters of local GP surgeries. This could include a weekly yoga session or a monthly hike. All it would need is a designated person to help co-ordinate the group’s activities.

My hope is that we will all start looking after ourselves as well as we care for our patients. Let’s start listening to our own advice!

Blog comments

  • Did you know that singing is considered an aerobic activity? It also improves mental as well as physical health and aids the release of endorphins to provide that feel good sensation. In addition singing with others helps increase communication and improve relationships. It also great fun!! So don't just add any physical activity into the workplace - add singing.

  • We actually have a colleague at Brighton & Hove City Council running drop-in lunchtime singing sessions - so enjoyable, and I noticed last week how much it reduced my stress levels :-)

  • We would love to do a bit of yoga or something but have no room to swing a cat in our staff room and as we only have 30 mins break it`s only enough time to eat your lunch and maybe check a few emails !Any suggestions gratefully received.

  • I now hold walk and talk meetings when I can - recently walked for over 3 miles with 2 commissioners and had an open and productive dialogue, lapping the hospital site several times!

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