Healthy Living

Looking after your own wellbeing is the key to
staying healthy and enjoying life!

Maintaining our well being by staying healthy and enjoying life helps us to cope with the pressure and stress of our work as pharmacists.

Managing stress as an individual is assisted by achieving a balance in life between work, rest and play. Some simple steps we can take include ensuring that we:

  • Participate in regular exercise.
  • Eat a healthy and nutritious diet.
  • Have adequate sleep – most adults require 7 to 8 hours a night.
  • Undertake activities we enjoy outside work.
  • Find the positive in situations and enjoying smiling and laughing.
  • Have regular holidays.
  • Spend time with our families, loved ones and friends.
  • Pay attention to our emotional and spiritual needs.
  • Get involved in the broader community.

As pharmacists we spend a lot of time caring for others and it is important that we also care for ourselves. When working, it is important not to neglect looking after ourselves so that we can give our best to others.

A happy white woman holds a big slice of watermelon up in front of her face, which is in the shape of a big smile.

Balancing work and
your health

Your work can have a huge effect on your physical, emotional, and mental health. In the course of your work, you may become affected by stress, job dissatisfaction, discrimination, bullying, workplace injury, interpersonal conflicts, heavy workloads, long hours, and more. Stress from work and from dealing with these issues can increase the risk of developing health issues such as anxiety and depression.

One thing you can do to avoid problems caused by work-related stress and burnout is to pay attention to your ‘work-life balance’. Neglecting everything but work can lead to burnout, so it is important to keep your family life, social life, and personal hobbies active. If you are the sort of person that tends to be a ‘workaholic’ it is important to be proactive about this.

Other issues that can come up at work are discrimination, bullying and employee rights. We have resources for employees here, and resources for dealing with workplace bullying here.

You can read more about stress and burnout here. You can also read more about keeping healthy at work on the Better Health Channel here.

If you are affected by any of these issues, you can call us on 1300 244 910 for free, confidential support and advice from fellow pharmacists who know the specific pressures of pharmacy work.

Stay healthy!

Some tips for staying healthy while working in pharmacy:

  • Take regular breaks from dispensing or other tasks, no matter how busy it is, to ensure you can maintain your concentration.
  • Vary your activities during the day.
  • Alternate standing and sitting whenever possible.
  • Maintain good posture.
  • Do small arm, shoulder, and neck exercises to keep from holding in one position all day.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Take bathroom breaks when you need them.
  • Eat small healthy snacks throughout the day.
  • Have a complete break at lunchtime, even if you remain in the pharmacy.
  • Avoid extended working hours, and long working weeks.
  • When you finish working for the day, leave work and any thoughts of work behind, and relax.
  • Whenever possible, have a two day break from work once a week.
As pharmacists we provide a lot of health advice to others. We need to also look after our own health. In order to stay healthy it is important to:
  • Have your own General Practitioner and make an appointment to see them for a health check at least once a year.
  • Don’t be tempted to self-diagnose and self-treat for anything other than minor ailments.
  • Don’t ignore symptoms of ill health.
  • When you are unwell take time off and rest to ensure a faster and complete recovery.
  • Participate in appropriate health screening activities for your age group.
  • Ensure you have an annual influenza vaccination.
  • Pay attention to hand hygiene and either wash your hands or use hand sanitiser regularly during the day.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Do not take illegal drugs or self-treat with sedatives, strong analgesics or mood altering substances.
It’s important to look after yourself first.

Improving confidence

Having low confidence or low self-esteem can affect many areas of your life and can sometimes be quite debilitating. It can feel impossible to get out of a negative cycle of thinking but, by working on improving your confidence in yourself, you can do it!

Here are a few things you can start to do to work on this area.

Practise self-acceptance

When you accept yourself and who you are, it helps you to feel better in yourself and be able to better handle the things that life throws at you. It’s important to acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes, and you can be critical of your own behaviour without being critical of yourself.

Practise being assertive

Learn to speak up and let people know what you need and what you want. Don’t feel guilty about asking someone for help, or saying no to someone.

Celebrate every achievement

Celebrate each of your achievements: even small goals or tasks that you complete are all something worth congratulating yourself on. If you are feeling down, remember all that you have accomplished. Don’t forget to reward yourself for new achievements! Perhaps treat yourself with a favourite snack or an activity you enjoy.

Working on building up your self-esteem is also important for your mental health. Here are a few tips to remember:

  • Be compassionate towards yourself! Remember that you’re only human and you don’t have to be perfect.
  • Get active! This doesn’t have to just be sports if that isn’t for you – perhaps you like to cook, or relax in nature. Do something that will give you energy.
  • Challenge your internal voice and negative self-talk.
  • Accept all compliments without reservation!
  • Surround yourself with a good support network of positive influences!

If you want to work on this area further, there is a workbook that the Western Australian Government has made available that you can work through to work on improving self-esteem. It can be accessed here.

Self Care

Self care is an important tool for improving and maintaining your mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. It is important to foster wellness in both your mind and body. The important thing about self care is that it must be regular – it is a maintenance tool, not an emergency response! Self care is recognised more nowadays as something that should be an important part of your personal routine. There are many resources and suggestions available, but we have included a few here to get you started.

Be kind to yourself – don’t be so hard on yourself, you are human after all! Even though you may spend a lot of time caring for others as a health professional, you deserve to be cared for too.

Focus on the future

Take time for reflection and review and planning in order to set goals. It can be helpful to focus on the future if you’re feeling a little stuck. Some areas to set goals in could include:

  • Personal, professional, or community
  • Physical and mental health
  • Relationships
  • Financial
  • Creative, spiritual, and adventurous activities

It is also important to have a support network – perhaps this could be family, social, or in a professional capacity.

Personal sustainability

A lot of us live in a way that is not sustainable in the long term. We work very hard, for long hours, often taking little time for rests, all while caring for our clients. This lifestyle can lead to burnout, stress, health problems, and other issues.

Finding a more sustainable flow to your working life will provide you with the resources you need to maintain your own mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing.

Developing your own sustainability may look different for everyone. This might involve developing a routine that works for you, that includes time for things like exercise and rest. Rest is really important for long-term sustainability, as you need time to recharge between work shifts and other commitments. Eating food that you know will sustain you, and drinking plenty of water is another small way in which you can support yourself as you develop these habits.

As a healthcare provider, it is really important you have reserves in yourself to not only provide the best care possible, but to survive and thrive even while you work.

Building your resilience

Having good resilience means that you will be able to adapt well to stressful situations and big life events. While adverse events can often be painful or difficult, they don’t need to define you and how you live your life. Being resilient doesn’t mean that you won’t experience distressing events or come across difficulties, but it means you will be equipped to handle the things that life throws at you.

Anyone can learn and develop the behaviours, thoughts and actions that help to build resilience, but it can take time. The American Psychological Association lists four core components that can help to build resilience:

  1. Connection
  2. Wellness
  3. Healthy thinking
  4. Meaning
Connection

Building your connections can give you a support network to help in times of difficulty. It is a good reminder that you’re not alone. It can be tempting to isolate yourself during stressful times but giving priority to your connections helps you find a sense of purpose, find support, and have fun too!

Wellness

Prioritising your nutrition, and ensuring you get enough sleep and exercise, is a big step towards looking after yourself. It can also be helpful to practice mindfulness in a way that works for you. Another aspect of wellness is avoiding things that can have a negative impact on your health, such as using alcohol or drugs to cope with difficult situations. Instead give yourself the resources you need to manage stress.

Healthy thinking

There are some ways you can embrace a healthy pattern of thinking. One way is to remember to keep things in perspective – if you are able to identify areas where you are thinking irrationally (for instance, you begin to think everyone is out to get you, or everything you try will be a disaster) you can choose a more balanced and realistic thought pattern. Remind yourself that a difficult event does not determine how your future will pan out, and that you have the power to take action.

Another way is to remember to accept that things change, and are sometimes out of your control. Focus on the things that you can change in your own life rather than what is out of control.

Meaning

Finding meaning in life is important to help you to just keep going, even when times are tough. ‘Finding meaning’ can mean something different for everyone. Some people find meaning through helping others; this may mean volunteering, or perhaps you find meaning through your work in healthcare. Supporting someone else in their time of need can improve your own self-worth and empower you.
It may also help you to be proactive towards achieving your goals. If problems in your life seem overwhelming, perhaps you can break them down into smaller, more manageable pieces that you can analyse and work out how to solve them. Developing realistic goals that enable you to move forward, towards whatever it is you wish to accomplish, can help to give you some direction.

One final tip – keeping optimistic

Stay optimistic, and keep a positive outlook on life. It can be really hard to stay positive when you feel things aren’t going your way, but remembering all the difficult things that you have overcome can help when you are facing something that is difficult and new.

Remember that growth can come as a result of hardship. If you have experienced an adverse event, it can help to take a step back and think about each of these areas, and work out what you want in life. If you think, for example, that you want to work on relationships in your life, this may give you a greater sense of purpose, and give you a goal to work towards. Pick a goal and remember that resilience is something built over time.

 Reference: American Psychological Association ‘Building your resilience’ (2012). Available from: www.apa.org/topics/resilience