You can't pour from an empty cup - the importance of permission



I return to Permission again and again, it is so crucial for me personally (I have had anxiety and burnout) and for all of us Medics as a community. 

It can feel tough to practice self-care when there is so much need out there. You can feel pulled in all directions, guilty even, if you are not helping others before yourself, especially during this pandemic. Often doctors have different roles they are juggling, with patients, business needs, as parents. It can be easy to lose yourself while wearing so many ‘hats’.


I have learnt that Permission lies at the core of healthy self-care. Permission to look after ourselves. 


This pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint. We need to resource ourselves so we are well enough to take care of ourselves and those around us at work and at home in a sustainable fashion.

Just like the aeroplane analogy - put on your own oxygen mask first, before helping others.

I have found the recent addition to the Declaration of Geneva 2017 (the modern Hippocratic Oath) helpful:

‘… I WILL ATTEND TO my own health, well-being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard..’

This was only added 3 years ago, which in itself illustrates my point, medical culture habitually has implied, expected or assumed doctors put their needs second. However, it is there now, at last, in black and white.

I hope it may help you to stop pouring from an empty cup. 

By Dr Katya Miles, Head of Training at the Joyful Doctor


The advice I am providing is as accurate and as comprehensive as possible but it is only general advice and should not be used as a substitute for the individual advice of your own doctor. For doctors, as usual, please use your own clinical judgement when interpreting the information and deciding how best to apply it to the treatment of patients


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