For the last few weeks, I’ve been watching the COVID-19 pandemic unfold on the frontline in the NHS. Working in A&E as the number of cases rose, I was often the designated COVID doctor and would assess patients with respiratory symptoms coming through the front door.
As the situation worsened our team stayed strong, resilient and together. However, from speaking to colleagues it became clear that the underlying fear and anxiety was immense. This was the case not only in our department but across the country as I spoke with other colleagues working in different areas, who fed back similar findings.
On a personal level too, I was facing different challenges to what I was used to - just as my colleagues and other healthcare workers were. Although the actual workload would vary, mainly due to a reduced number of non-COVID attendances, the emotional toll has been the biggest shock to the system. Feelings of helplessness, unbelievably difficult telephone conversations with relatives and the general uncertainty all contributed.
It was seeing and experiencing these challenges firsthand, that compelled me to create something that could help and be of value to other healthcare workers. It wasn’t planned and I didn’t know exactly what shape it would take when I started out. But I did know that something was needed, something more personal, more relatable and more feasible than the generic wellbeing guidance being offered.
Using my knowledge from the BSLM Diploma and my own experience in applying Lifestyle Medicine principles during the COVID era, I created CopeWell-19, a free evidence-based course for healthcare workers aimed at improving wellbeing and reducing the risk of burnout. In the course, which is supported by BSLM, I share stories andinsights and go into more detail regarding some of the things touched on above.I then follow these up with simple, practical coping strategies.
It’s been designed to be easy to digest and a positive experience, leaving you feeling empowered with an emphasis on small changes (or #1change!). Lifestyle medicine and COVID-19 don’t usually end up in the same sentence, in a hospital setting anyway, but it’s lifestyle medicine that has kept me going.
If you’d like to find out more, check out the short ‘Introduction Video’ on the CopeWell-19 webpage that you can access by clicking here. The course is completely free and doesn’t require a sign up process, all the best and stay safe!
Or if you want to jump straight in here is the link to the course: bslm.org.uk/copewell19
Dr Kurren Sandhu