Hear from a fellow pharmacist about mental health and wellbeing

Hey! I’m Nahim Khan and I’ve been a pharmacist for nearly 11 years. I work as a portfolio pharmacist in academia, GP practice and community pharmacy.

Like a lot of other professionals, the COVID-19 pandemic caused lots of changes to my routine. I started working from home for part of the week and for me, the biggest impact was how sudden the change was.

Was there anything you found interesting or that challenged you in a good way during the pandemic?

It was a big change adapting my workplaces to minimise cross infection, but an even bigger change was how to continue supporting students remotely. I tried to challenge myself to think about different way of teaching, so I volunteered at a public lecture without using traditional slides.

Did you learn anything new in lockdown?
A result of staying home more than usual is that I learnt how important it is to walk once a day. Since walking more often, I’ve found canals and bridges in the local park near where I live that I didn’t realise existed before! Walking allowed me to become active and take notice of nature and the surroundings. Working at home at the table near the windows also allowed me to take notice of the birds that visit our garden. I also restarted learning computer programming with the aim to use it with Lego.

During lockdown, was there anything in particular that you learnt about yourself when you had to adjust your usual routine?

During lockdown, I was completely out of my normal routine and I found it difficult to adjust. The lack of the normal interaction with other people left me feeling alone and isolated. I didn’t miss the traffic or waking up earlier to get to work on time, but I often felt sluggish because I wasn’t moving around as much as I would normally. I also found sleep troublesome. Going to sleep was fine, but my quality of sleep was less than normal.

I started to use relaxing sounds to help with sleep, exercised daily and had to be quite strict with myself to avoid snacking on crisps, so I made sure there was much more fruit at home.

How are you feeling about more changes being introduced now that lockdown is easing?

I am feeling somewhat anxious about the easing of lockdown, but when things outside of my control are changing, I find relief in thinking that I can still control my own actions. I make sure I still maintain social distancing, wear face masks and maintain regular handwashing. If I need to go to the shops, I’ll ensure I go when it’s quiet or when there is priority access for keyworkers.

If you think about the short and long-term future post-Covid, what changes do you envision in your pharmacy role and what strategies could you put in place to manage these changes?

I’m not sure what the changes might be in my role, but it may mean more virtual meetings or virtual consultations. I think this could be good, because travelling could be reduced which I believe will improve my wellbeing, as well as the environment.

I think that in the long term there will be fundamental changes in what pharmacists do. Again, it’s always important to understand the sphere of influence you have in these changes, and understanding that it’s not worth being anxious of issues you cannot control.

Do you have any advice for someone who might be feeling anxious about the changes of lockdown easing?

If anyone is feeling anxious about changes in lockdown, I would recommend taking things at your own pace. Carry on focusing on your wellbeing and exercising. With the increase in people going back to their normal routines and traffic and supermarkets getting busier, make sure you plan your journeys and when possible, travel when it will be less busy. Carry on with social distancing, wearing face masks and remember to maintain regular hand washing.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, ask to speak to a colleague or contact Pharmacist Support. This is a really important time to look after your wellbeing and using the 5 ways to wellbeing: Connect, Learn, be Active, Notice and Give.

I continued to give during the demanding period by donating to the charity and giving my time to virtual careers events for school children. Connecting with family and colleagues is also important to make sure you’re still part of a community.

When working remotely, I realised how much I missed interacting with my colleagues because I always looked forward to our online meetings to see how everyone is. Now that I’ve started going back to work, I really appreciate the human interaction and simply catching up with my colleagues.

Further mental health and wellbeing support

Further mental health and wellbeing support

Mental health and wellbeing

Our mission is to champion the wellbeing of our pharmacy family. On these pages you will find guidance and advice on how you can stay mentally healthy and boost your wellbeing.

Further mental health and wellbeing support

Counselling and Peer Support

Our Counselling and Peer Support service is for those seeking a safe, confidential place to talk about professional or emotional issues or worries.

Further mental health and wellbeing support

Wardley Wellbeing Service

The Wardley Wellbeing Service is here to support you and your team to prioritise your mental, physical and emotional health. Through the service, you can access a range of individual and group training.