Stress and Burnout

Recognising the psychological impact of lockdown

It was week two of facing one of my greatest obstacles, a task so seamless to others, as simple as blinking or breathing. Not that I found either simple in this moment; I notice my blinking is rapid and my breathing is tense, fast, shallow. This familiar and yet...

Returning to work: managing that sinking feeling.

It isn't called a sinking feeling for nothing. It feels like you're in a lift, plummeting down the outside of a skyscraper, out of control, hurtling towards the inevitable. Your stomach is like a washing machine on fast spin, and the dread, deep in your soul, is...

Repulsed by cruelty

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” I was taught to say this at school if called a name – and I did, when I was. Even before I began to be a spectacles wearer – not a cool look in 1978 – I was singled out for being small, skinny and...

Reckoning day is here: let us harness the self care agenda for the collective good.

Flicking idly through a glossy, fashion magazine a headline grabs my attention: “A band-aid for bullet wounds: is the self-care craze doing more harm than good?” I am intrigued, partly because I am facing my own conundrums in a work context about whose responsibility...
Retreating from the world.

Retreating from the world.

I can't leave the garden this evening.  It's not a large garden – the size of some people’s kitchens, where they cook in front of friends and serve “supper” at the table, a happy, chaotic mess, wine bottles strewn around, pans in the sink, kids paintings on the...

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Re-evaluating: limbo or life?

Re-evaluating: limbo or life?

My husband is 53 today; I will soon join him in the same age. We have been married for 21 years. It is a hot day so we decided against a day out in the country and are lounging around the house and garden, looking forward to dinner a deux tonight as our grown up but...

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Re-filling the tank

Re-filling the tank

I’m on count down. Annual leave minus 10 days. If all goes to plan (no local lockdown!) I’ll be going away; an escape to the country, to the coast; a relatively unpopulated area that I’ve spent a couple of weeks exploring most summers for the last few years. A...

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Reviewing: Through a glass darkly

Reviewing: Through a glass darkly

They were talking. I knew that because I could see their mouths moving. Their heads, their faces animated. My eyes told me information that my ears and my brain were not able to take in. How could they talk, continue to communicate, carry on as if the world had not...

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Recognising the last straw

Recognising the last straw

The last straw. What was your last straw? What made you finally snap after years of tolerating abuse, manipulation and deceit? I knew I was being unfairly treated, managed, and used, but I told myself time and again that I could cope with it, that it wasn’t all bad,...

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Restating the case for anger

Restating the case for anger

“There’s the door. Be my guest!” He had been winding me up all day, muttering and glowering and asking pointless questions. But when he put his course folder on his head and announced that the activity he and his colleagues had been asked to do was straight out of...

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Remembering examples of humility

Remembering examples of humility

Many years ago when I was new to working with doctors, I met a professor of cardiac surgery. He was approaching retirement, white hair, half moon spectacles, and was the most gentle, enquiring, curious participant on the courses we were running about Supervision. So...

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