Mid-year fatigue is difficult to manage, you want to be your best self but your energy levels may not match your girl-boss ambition. It’s important to understand the importance of taking time to unwind and give back to your mental health.
Medical expert, Dr Tshidi Gule is passionate about mental health and dealing with a holistic approach to medicine. “As scientists, we often do not have time in a normal consultation to educate on preventative measures, and with the rise of mental health conditions in younger people,” says Gule. ‘This is becoming increasingly important to discuss, prioritise and integrate into normal doctor-patient discussions.” This is why her team launched their first wellness retreat program for corporate professionals and medical tourists called Soul Safari, a collaboration with Soul Traveler Tour.
We get to know more about Dr Tshidi Gule and the exciting Soul Traveler Tour.
What motivated you to study to be a doctor?
Dr G: I have always been a curious child and was captivated by these human beings who traveled house to house making people feel better. As I grew up, I learned they were doctors and I spent several years shadowing a few in my township to appreciate the science and humanity of this career. I fell in love with both at age 13 and the rest is history!
Please tell me more about the Medispace Lifestyle Institute and the programs you run?
Dr G: Medispace is a niche health enterprise that solely focuses on primary and preventative health solutions. We offer a family-oriented lifestyle clinic that addresses health issues and promotes wellness for all ages (Medi-Lifestyle); specialised corporate wellness programs such as our corporate clinics (Medi-Business); fun programs that reach kids to adopt healthy habits (Optima Lifestyle) and digital health solutions that track personal and organisational health outcomes (Medi-Insights). I developed these models with a specific goal to provide solutions at an individual and community level so that the pathway of care not only benefits one person but an entire community and even country. Our digital models have proven most successful at doing just that as they diagnose and solve a health risk problem before it causes damage.
What would you advise young women who are in the working world and struggling to maintain the work/life balance?
DR G: The notion that you can balance everything is the first thing to rid yourself of. I tend to give practical exercises that afford women the breathing room to go after what they desire but still keep their physical and mental health intact. For example, my wellness rule of 5s always gets positive results in achieving a more balanced lifestyle, even for the busiest women. It looks at the dimensions we spend the most time on and how to design a schedule that offers more quality of life. Just ask those who’ve done it, it works!
As burnout is now recognised as a medical condition – what symptoms should one lookout for?
DR G: Burnout is a very broad topic and requires a discussion with a medical professional. That’s my first point. There is a spectrum of symptoms are often confused with general conditions which is why the consultation matters. Depending on whether a patient is in the hyper-aroused or fatigued state of burnout, symptoms range from headaches, daytime fatigue, irritability, mood swings, continued vulnerability to normal infections, skin problems, anxiety, depression insomnia and a general lack of desire to go to work or do anything. More urgent symptoms include nerve paralysis, high and inexplicable fevers, organ failure, lung infections and fainting spells.
Are there any programmes/books or podcasts you have available for patients to connect with you?
DR G: Yes (‘finally!’, as some of my clients would say) there are few ways to connect with my work of wellness interests you. it’s taken me a while to warm up to social media as I prefer to interact one-on-one. I provide wellness management programs (stress management, lifestyle mapping) to executive clients from all over the world online, as part of the new paperless clinic, which is exciting for old and new clients. I have a wellness series online called The Wellness Couch (@thewellnesscouch_) launched in June and runs weekly which discusses week news topics in a friendly and informative way. You can also catch me on The Wellness Pod (SoundCloud) for podcasts. I also provide talks, advisory and seminars to corporate organisations in and around Africa based one the company’s needs.
What would you say are the biggest challenges facing the medical arena at the moment?
Dr G: I think the biggest challenge is appreciating the necessary transition our country has to make in improving access to healthcare at all levels. The more open we are to being part of the solution for the incoming NHI policy, the better the country will be. But one of the reasons this is providing difficult is the level of mental health strain and burnout in our own field. Taking care of the caregivers needs to be part and parcel of a comprehensive health plan.
Any advice you would give to someone interested in studying medicine?
DR G: Spend time in the field to assess the idea you have versus the reality of the profession. Ask questions, ask a lot of questions. Be a nerd and be patient when it comes to choosing a specialty. Medicine is often romanticised and it is definitely the best career for someone who truly loves to serve and isn’t afraid to deal with the gutsy part of humanity (pun fully intended!). But it takes a lot to stay committed to this career and you need to be mentally and emotionally geared up for the road, not just the title.
Tell us about the Soul Safari tour?
We’ve launched our first wellness retreat program for corporate professionals and medical tourists called Soul Safari, a collaboration with Soul Traveler Tours. I’m super excited about this because wellness that expands beyond the consulting room is the new approach globally. Spas have been doing it for a long time and scientists need to find a way to inspire health in partnership with hospitality and other sectors. Also, the most successful personalities and brands (Arianna Huffington, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson) understand and promote the importance of regular and scheduled resting periods as part of maintaining health and quality of life.
We hope this new package for our own clients will inspire the broader understanding of really making wellness a way of life, rather than a last resort when everything falls apart. The retreats offer knowledge, one on one care by professionals and a curated travel experience that rejuvenates and recharges the mind and body. It is a must if you are a workaholic and our first one kicks off 4-6 October.
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