It's time for self-care

Dr. Anita Phung

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Who are you as a person and a medical professional?

I would describe myself as adventurous, curious and philosophical. I spend a lot of time Googling things and I always find myself learning something new. I particularly enjoy reading self-development books, running and travelling. In terms of goals, I would really love to complete the advanced open water diving course, brush up on my languages and possibly hike the entirety of Camino de Santiago, a 500 mile trail. Random fact: I have dabbled in amateur acting.

As a doctor, I am conscientious and I strive to provide the best care to my patients, using evidence-based medicine. I like to know a little bit about everything, so it will not come as a surprise that I am training to become a GP. I have also had experience of working as a Clinical Research Physician in various clinical trials including diabetic neuropathy and Alzheimer’s disease. There is so much to learn in the world of medicine and if I had to narrow it down, I am particularly interested in Lifestyle Medicine, Metabolic Medicine, Psychiatry and Psychology.

 

Why is health important to you?

Health is the state of being free from illness and encompasses both physical and mental health. For some of us, we acknowledge our current lifestyle choices and accept that we will probably develop various medical conditions with increasing age, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol – but why? I have witnessed the consequences of these conditions, such as heart attacks and strokes, which in turn has motivated me to reflect on my own lifestyle choices. Whenever I am unwell, I find it a humbling experience because it reminds me of the times I was in better health. Rather than wait and respond to ill health, I would rather try and prevent it. I want to be in good health so that I can do the things I want to do and be in a position to look after my family and friends.

 

How did you hear about Reset health? And why are you excited to become part of the team? How does it help solve any of the problems you have been seeing in your patients?

I heard about Reset Health through Dr Kwan who called me up one day and asked me what I was doing with my life. I told him I was taking a year out of GP training to do a bit of soul searching and travelling. He asked me whether I was interested in an upcoming opportunity, to which I simply replied “yes”. Fast forward a few weeks and several interviews later, I found myself excited about joining the Reset Health team. The vision of Reset Health is strongly aligned with my core interests and values. The team comprises of exceptional individuals with a wealth of experience in their relevant specialties and interesting personalities. I have no doubt I will learn a lot in my new role and have fun at the same time.

Reset Health is on a metabolic mission to help individuals reverse type 2 diabetes and obesity. Within the short time of joining the company, I have witnessed the benefits of individualised metabolic plans. Resetters feel empowered to lose weight and maintain their weight loss. I have also seen an improvement in blood pressure control in some individuals, which has enabled them to be weaned off their blood pressure medications, something they thought they would be on for life! I believe that with more time and ongoing support, we will help Resetters improve and optimise their metabolic health.

 

How is Covid-19 affecting people?  And what should they do to increase their resilience?

Covid is affecting all of us in different ways. Some have really struggled with their physical and mental health whilst others have used Covid as motivation to improve their general health. We have heard about the short-term impact of Covid on mental wellbeing, perhaps even experienced it ourselves, such as anxiety or low mood. However, we are yet to see the long-term effects of Covid on our metabolic health and this is definitely something that is at the back of my mind. Given the government guidelines, we are certainly moving less and becoming more sedentary. This will have implications on our metabolism, blood pressure, blood sugar levels and exercise tolerance. Some of us might be feeling it already.

There is no prescribed way to increase the resilience of individuals. It really depends on what they are motivated to do and maintain. In terms of physical health, I would encourage 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week by going out for walks, for example. If this is not an option, individuals can try functional exercises at home, which will in turn enable them to perform daily activities more easily without injuries. In terms of mental health, I would suggest establishing social support groups to check in and protect the mental wellbeing of each other. There are also various mental wellbeing apps which could help individuals practice meditation or mindfulness. However, if social support is limited and an individual is struggling, they should reach out to their GP who will be able to signpost them to local support services.

 

What's the future of great healthcare and how do you want to play a part in making it happen?

The future of great healthcare is in health promotion, preventing illness and reducing social health inequalities. I want to reduce the stigma of obesity and mental health illness so that individuals can feel empowered to make, and hopefully maintain, lifestyle changes. This will not be an easy feat but challenge accepted. I believe I will be able to achieve this in my roles as a GP trainee and a Reset Health doctor. 

 

Do you think people want to take control of their own health? If so, what has been stopping them so far? And what is the one thing you would tell people to do  - the most important thing?

Of course people want to take control of their own health but this is often restricted by pre-existing physical and mental health conditions, as well as social and financial circumstances, which affect the mindset of individuals. If there is one thing I would suggest, I would encourage individuals to regularly take time out and check in with themselves. It is sometimes difficult to do when you are feeling the pressure of having 101 things on your never ending to do list. However, taking time out for self-care and doing the things you enjoy, will enable you to reframe things and return with new perspectives. This will build resilience and prevent burn out – something that I also have to remind myself.

 

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