The Weekly Balance – #29

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Hey gang! Another week, another Weekly Balance. Let’s have a look back at the past seven days in my life and what I’ve learnt from it.

What went on in my doctor life…

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues, I’m going to leave out this section of The Weekly Balance for now. I can’t share the specifics of my day to day work – its not appropriate for many reasons, but confidentiality is the main one. I would also guess that many of you, like me, enjoy taking time to switch off from all things pandemic, and I hope these weekly posts might help with that a little. I hope you guys can understand that, and thank you! I am continuing to share COVID-19 update posts on my Instagram at least once per week – you can check those out here.

What I’m thinking about…

Risk. 2020 has been marked by many things – chiefly the global pandemic of COVID-19. And now, as many countries, Ireland included, try to find the balance between restrictions to control the spread of the virus and prevent a resurgence of cases, and getting citizens back to some semblance of their pre-pandemic life, we are all living with the risk of COVID-19 every single day. In public health, we assess risk as part of our work regularly, almost on a daily basis, especially when it comes to protecting the public we serve from infectious disease threats. But for the general public, the risk of something as new and unknown as the novel coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 is a very hard thing to grapple with, especially when what most people are craving is doing the things we used to be able to do without a second thought in our pre-pandemic world, such as socialise freely, whether at home or out in restaurants or bars.

Risk, like uncertainty, is uncomfortable. We are creatures of comfort – and it’s not easy to have to force yourself to stop and think twice about every activity you do, every person you pass in the street or in a shop, every friend who asks you about meeting up after so long apart. On top of that, we will all feel more or less at ease with living through the new normal, and that can be challenging when it might seem as though your friends or family are doing more than you are. After so long without FOMO, since we all had to stay at home, it is rearing its ugly head again. But we have to remember that, as Dr. Mike Ryan of the World Health Organisation said recently, if it doesn’t feel safe, it isn’t safe for you. So if you make an assessment of the risk of COVID-19 associated with doing something, whether it’s going to someone’s house or out for a meal, and it doesn’t feel right to you, remember that that is okay. All feelings are valid – yes, including yours.

What can help us as we try to get used to living through the global pandemic, is knowledge, which can empower us to take the necessary actions to protect ourselves and our loved ones. I’m sure you’ve all heard this time and time again, but these key steps matter. Washing our hands, properly and often. Practicing social/physical distancing. Knowing the symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do if you experience them. Wearing a face covering in the recommended circumstances (note this will differ in each country). In Ireland we recently launched our COVID Tracker App which adds to our contact tracing methods and resources, so if you live in Ireland and can download it, please consider doing so.

As always, make sure you stay informed and keep up to date on the situation pertaining to COVID-19 in your area via your local and national health authority.

What I’m reading…

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This week, I finished a book called Can You Die Of A Broken Heart? by Australian cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Nikki Stamp (@drnikkistamp on Instagram). Nikki was a podcast guest on my own podcast earlier this year, which was one of my favourite episodes on the podcast to date (tune in here if you haven’t already!). This book was kindly sent to me by Nikki – it’s her first book (the second is called Pretty Unhealthy and is also an excellent read), and it is a really inspiring, informative and engaging read. Nikki’s passion for her work as a heart surgeon stands out in this book, and you can’t help but feel motivated and empowered to sit down and think about how you can actively look after your own heart health. The book covers many different aspects of heart health – from what we eat, to exercise, to sleep, to mental health, and more. The book also describes the differences between men and women in terms of how they experience and recover from heart disease, which I remember learning a little bit about in medical school, and was fascinated to learn more.

And yes, Nikki does answer the question the title of her book poses too! Add this to your book list for an inspiring and empowering read that reminds you to look after your ticker for the short and long term.

My next read is The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, which I started yesterday and am hooked on already! As always, let me know what you’re reading in the comments below.

What I’m listening to…

This week, I am devouring a new audiobook – How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right? by Pandora Sykes. Sykes is an author (this is her first book), journalist and co-host of The High Low podcast which is one of my favourites! This book is a collection of ‘essays on modern life’ according to Sykes, written predominantly for the millenial generation. It’s sharp, funny, and thought-provoking, and I’m about half way through and loving it. Sykes has also launched a podcast recently called Doing It Right – the latest episode with teacher, writer, broadcaster, fashion-admirer and advocate for disability and design Sinead Burke is an absolutely inspiring listen.

In case you haven’t seen, I wanted to flag that MICHELLE OBAMA is launching her own podcast at the end of July! She announced it this week, and I couldn’t be more excited for the first episode.

Recipe of the Week

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The recipe I’m loving this week is my PB&J Breakfast Bars – a quick and easy recipe to whip up, and ideal for snacks for a new week ahead! You can find the recipe here. A lovely follower from Instagram made these this week and tagged me in the recipe, which reminded me that I must try them again myself soon!

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 informed with the advice from your local health authority, stay safe, wash your hands, keep your distance and be kind!

Ciara 🙂 x

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