Week 18 of The Weekly Balance. You know the drill for these posts by now gang – let’s rewind the last seven days!
What went on in my doctor life…
Hopefully you all aren’t bored to tears at this stage by my mentioning COVID-19 every week, but I’m sure you’ll appreciate that public health work and efforts remain predominantly focused on the pandemic. For obvious confidentiality reasons I can’t go into the specifics of my day to day work. What I will say is that I’m extremely proud to be part of such a wonderful public health team in my workplace. We show up day in day out to do the best we can and it’s fantastic to be a part of that. One thing’s for sure – this was definitely not how I thought my first year as a public health doctor would pan out! But here I am, and I have to say that I’m grateful for the wealth of experience that this global health crisis is giving me.
As I usually do in these weekly blog posts, I’d likely to take this opportunity to encourage every single one of you to help us to help you. Please stay up to date on the COVID-19 situation via your local health authority and follow the public health advice given. I’ll direct you to the following websites below – which is for you will depend on your nationality and place of residence, but I’ve included those for Irish, UK and USA folks, plus the World Health Organisation which applies to us all:
- The Irish Health Service Executive (https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/)
- The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (https://www.hpsc.ie/)
- The World Health Organisation (https://www.who.int/)
- The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/home)
- Public Health England (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england)
- NHS (https://www.nhs.uk/)
- The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/)
Stay home. Stay safe. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Help stop the spread of COVID-19 and save more and more lives every single day.
What I’m thinking about…
I’m thinking about silver linings this week. You know the phrase – ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’, right? Well, that’s been rolling around in my mind. There has been so much sorrow, loss and grief as a result of COVID-19 in Ireland and worldwide, and although nothing can erase those losses, there are some little simply joys we can at least try to turn our mind to to help us heal. One common theme that comes up again and again from people I have heard talk about, particularly in the context of the ‘stay at home’ order we have in place in Ireland, is time. Many of us do have more time on our hands, mainly because our daily routines have been turned upside down. For some, such as those who have unfortunately suffered job losses, this extra time is not I know necessarily welcome and I’m so sorry that unemployment has been a big side effect of the pandemic.
However, I have heard many people say they are glad of the extra time they find themselves with now. Time is precious – we cannot get it back once passed, and how we choose to spend it is important. We don’t necessarily have to use this extra time to be super productive, but we can use it to our advantage to add some positivity to our day. It might be time spent on a video call to family, or to friends, or to do a Zoom quiz, or to read the books on your list you ‘never had time for’, or to try a new hobby, or to cook, or spend time with those in your household. I guess for me extra time at home does feel like a silver lining, and I’m trying to maintain a slower pace outside of work, using my time to do the things that make me happy and give me a sense of peace.
What I’m reading…
This weekend, I finished Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. I posted on my Instagram that I was reading this book, and I got a LOT of messages from people to say that they had loved it, which is always a good sign! I have to say, this book was amazing. Frankl is a psychiatrist who previously was a prisoner of several Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz, and survived to tell his story. The book is fascinatingly written – Frankl shares his own experiences as a prisoner of the camps as well as considering the experience from a psychological perspective, along the theme of searching for meaning. Frankl’s entire family perished in the concentration camps, and he, as did millions of others, endured indescribably horrific suffering, pain and abuse during his years in them. His stories are I have to say very hard to read, but also very hard to stop reading, if that makes sense. The second part of the book details his theoretical approach as a psychiatrist – termed logotherapy, which purports that our primary purpose in life is our strive to find meaning. Frankl’s perspective on suffering in this book was something that particularly stood out to me – he dwells only on what the suffering can teach us, what can be learnt from it, as opposed to the injustice of it or how to avoid suffering in the first place.
Having read Edith Eger’s The Choice, which I absolutely loved, I was intrigued as to how this book would be written. It is definitely a very different read to The Choice, and the perspective and lens it is told through hooks you in from the first few pages. I find it hard to put a review of the book into words – I think the fact that Frankl could sit down and chronicle his time in the concentration camps so articulately and with a psychiatrist’s mind, memories which would have been clouded by his terrible suffering while there, is incredible. A must read.
As always, let me know what you’re reading in the comments on this post!
What I’m listening to…
This week, I found a new podcast which I am already obsessed with – the Train Happy Podcast by Tally Rye. Tally is a personal trainer, author of the book Train Happy, Podcast host and fitness influencer. I’ve been following Tally on social media for a number of years now (@tallyrye on Instagram), and her message around the importance of a balanced and healthy relationship with exercise has been influential in shaping mine for the better. Her Podcast has three episodes to date, and I especially loved the most recent one, an interview with chartered psychologist Kimberley Wilson (who is @foodandpsych on Instagram), about exercise and mental health. Definitely add this to your list of podcasts to check out, it’s going to be a weekly download for me!
The most recent episode on my own podcast is one of my favourites to date – an interview chat with Australian cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Nikki Stamp (@drnikkistamp on Instagram). Nikki is not just a surgeon – she is an round fantastic human being, as well as being an author, TV presenter and PhD candidate. I love her content on social media and her most recent book, Pretty Unhealthy, was a game-changer read for me. I hope you all enjoy this episode – you can find it on my podcast here.
Recipe of the Week
Next weekend I’ll be doing an Instagram Live Cook-a-long as part of the virtual Wellfest event – if you’d like to join keep an eye on my Instagram for details. It will be next Saturday May 9th at 11.30am. I’ve never done an Instagram Live before so it’s exciting! We’ll bake something from my blog and have a bit of a chat.
And that’s a wrap for this week gang! If you want to get in touch, you can find me @theirishbalance on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I hope you have a lovely week ahead folks – remember, stay home, stay safe, wash your hands, keep your distance and be kind!
Ciara 🙂 x