First things first – a belated congratulations for gaining a place on this highly competitive training scheme. This is certainly an achievement not to be ignored! You will have had a couple of months acclimatising to the training scheme and your new home. For some of you, this may be the first time you have moved away from home, for others it won’t be, but will still require you to adapt to not only a new job but a new location too. This short post will offer some first-hand tips to aid settling in, now that winter is creeping in and the dark evenings are getting longer.
Let’s take the positives
One positive compared with starting the STP in the past couple of years is that life has largely transitioned back to the pre-pandemic state. Although working from home may well be integrated into job plans, it is likely that you will be able to work in the office several days of the week (or whatever your specialism-specific version of your office is), or at least fairly frequently if you wish. This offers the perfect opportunity to get to know some of your colleagues and feel more part of the team before you go off on your academic block and first rotation. You may be lucky enough to have other STP trainees within your department starting at the same time as you, or other trainees further through the training scheme. Utilise their experience, guidance and friendship! See the tips below for some of what helped me when I started the STP deep within the pandemic (Sept 2020). I moved home, city and job – all in the space of a week, and so can fully relate to the feelings of apprehension and loneliness that can emerge and linger during this adaptation period.
Tips from my experience:
- Keep a home ‘comfort’ in your routine so that you don’t feel like everything in your life is new – whether that be going for your morning coffee, evening run, joining the gym, or blocking out time for a call with a bestie or family member. Keeping a consistent ‘known’ in your daily routine will help things to feel less unfamiliar.
- Join a club or community group. This could be anything your imagination can conjure up; just try to pick something that will allow you to switch off from work and allow you to connect with others. For sports, try: https://www.gomammoth.co.uk/. If you are after a more budget-friendly option, many NHS Trusts have staff sports teams.
- An app I personally used during my first few months of joining the STP is Meetup. It is free to join and has hundreds of interest and activity groups. You can filter by location and activity, amongst other things, and many of the groups involve exploring hidden gems of your town/city. Since joining it I have been on a luxury chocolate tour of London and been invited to karaoke and a serial killer interest group (I can’t say that I joined this one, but to each their own!).
- Trainee networks are a good source of meeting other STP trainees – these are divided into regional networks: https://nshcs.hee.nhs.uk/programmes/stp/trainees/trainee-networks/
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try using the Headspace app for daily relaxation techniques for anxiety and sleepcasts to improve your ZZzz. Building it into your routine will create a protected space in your day for you to unwind and switch off. NHS staff can register for access to Headspace plus by following the instructions at this link: https://help.headspace.com/hc/en-us/articles/360044971154-Headspace-for-the-NHS
- I will unapologetically repeat the usual spiel about self-care. This is SO important! Whatever form this takes on – any of the above, reading a book, chilling with some music or having a soak in the bath – force yourself to do this, ideally on a daily basis. Taking time out for yourself during what is an overwhelming time of everything being new will help you to adapt and relax into your new life.
- Finally, be kind to yourself. Try not to over-pressurise yourself to have made several new best friends, feel settled and be achieving your goals all in your first couple of months. Take things slow and internally praise yourself (or externally – nothing wrong with a good old pat on the back!) for successfully reaching the end of each of your first couple of months. Carving your niche within a new life can take longer than you would expect.
We would love to hear your tips for how you settled in / are adapting to STP life. Please comment below or comment on our Twitter and Insta posts at @STPperspectives.
By Sophie M, co-editor of STP Perspectives
Please note that the views and opinions in this post are the author’s only.