Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Umma Kulthum and I am currently a PGY-4 Emergency Medicine Resident at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City in Abu Dhabi. During my time away from ED shifts, what I like to do is focus on self-care and winding down
What do you look for in self-care?
When you are in the Emergency Department or, in fact, working in any capacity as a resident, you are constantly on the go. In that environment, your brain keeps firing, always ‘supercharged’. Even when you get home, you often find yourself revising, rehashing and rethinking actions and decisions from the day, picking apart what lessons could be learned and where performance could have been improved.
With that in mind, the most important aspect of self-care for me is environment. Taking yourself out of that physical and mental space is what’s ultimately crucial to optimizing wellness and avoiding burnout. For me, I need a quiet, calm environment to detach from the noise that usually encompasses the medical world.
There are many options available to people who want to help train their mind to switch off and take a mental break. I personally use Yoga as a means to relax. Since commencing residency, I found my lifestyle became slightly sedentary, but Yoga offers a form of self-care and meditation that also doubles as a great way to exercise and keep in shape.
Yoga occasionally comes under fire as ‘just an expensive version of turning the lights off and having a lie down’. What are your thoughts on this opinion?
While I can certainly understand where that opinion comes from, I do disagree that Yoga in of itself is an expensive hobby. Yes, there are a multitude of high-end clubs, resorts and gyms that feature Yoga as part of a general pay-through-the-nose package, but the activity itself doesn’t have to be pricey.
YouTube videos are great for beginners who want to learn how to establish and develop their meditative process. Comfort zones can be found anywhere from your car seat to your bedroom and breathing exercises, once learned, go a long way in keeping your mind and body in tune. In the end, the goal is to find the most effective way to disconnect and recharge.
I do pay for a class now and then and usually take a friend, but these instances double as social escapades where I can either learn and challenge myself with a new skill.
Have you got a particular routine you follow?
I don’t have a ritualistic routine per se when it comes to self-care. However, I guess you could call me a bit of a skin care junkie in that it always constitutes a part of my process.
Whether it’s a quick 10-15 minute routine or at the end of a relaxing Yoga session, I always like to dedicate some time toward massaging and nurturing my skin and face. I have also found that I do burn quite a bit of incense during Yoga sessions, with a growing predilection for ‘Bukhoor’ courtesy of my time here in the UAE.
My philosophy is simple- if I look good and feel good, I’m generally happier, more productive and attuned to new experiences.
What advice would you give to others who wish to indulge in self-care?
The biggest piece of advice would be regarding skin care products. If it’s your first time using a new product, ALWAYS do a patch test BEFORE applying it liberally because – and trust me on this one – there are times where it can go horribly wrong, and you get the exact OPPOSITE of stress-free.
Besides that very specific cautionary advice, here’s the thing: There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ with self-care. Do what works for you, because at the end of the day it’s about what YOU find helps detach you from your busy work environment and bring you closer to yourself. Once you find the right fit, you’ll find yourself more relaxed, more effective, and more engaged for your day, whether that be spent in an ED, by yourself, or with your friends and family.
Find Umma on Insta african89queen