Fight or Flight

Recently I’ve been reading about ‘The Flight or Fight response’. I decided to do a bit of reading  into it as I’ve found myself in situations at work where I can relate to it. I should note (since I don’t think I have) that I’m quite interested in psychological theories and enjoy reading articles around them, especially OT related ones as I’d eventually like to work in Mental Health. I just feel like I need to get some good experience in the post I have now first and life experience is also a great help.  So expect future blogging around this!

At one point or another I’m sure everyone will have experienced the ‘fight or flight response’ and will be able to recognise the symptoms. For example, rising blood pressure, tense muscles, adrenalin, quickening heart beat, sweaty palms and so on. If you want to know a bit more about it since I won’t be going into too much detail since I don’t want to bore y’all, here’s a PDF I found which covers it briefly:

I experience this at work every so often and in my personal life therefore felt like it would be useful to gain some insight into why I was experiencing it and what might help to prevent this or deal with it. For example, one day at work I was asked to help out in other areas which I had never or rarely worked in before so was unfamiliar with the way that the ward’s systems worked, the process of referrals, the medical conditions and I didn’t know the staff.  My thought process went from thinking positively about what I was doing in my job to thinking ‘oh no, I won’t be able to do it, shit, retreat!’.  I went from a being in a calm manner to experiencing panic and that’s when the adrenaline kicked in. My fear triggered the reaction, I felt there was a threat to myself as I could do the wrong thing and something terrible could happen as a result. It’s not unusual for me to get anxious about things, I feel I’m quite an anxious person at times but more often than not I’ll be so anxious about doing the job right that it will prevent me from being able to do the job at all. Procrastination is my worst enemy when it comes to that.  As a result of this fear I ended up taking on a referral in a more familiar area (Stroke) which I had worked in a few times so felt more comfortable with. I don’t think I was doing myself any favours by doing this but I automatically choose the option which was more in my comfort zone, as you do. Having read around what can help to tackle the anxiety during the fight or flight response, one strategy that I found useful was learning to break the cycle of anxiety by recognising the symptoms and reminding myself the symptoms aren’t a reason to become more anxious. So relating that to my situation; I started to realise that it’s normal for me to be anxious about seeing a patient in an unfamiliar setting and I will feel out of my comfort zone but I know that it’s not just me that gets as anxious about it and I have the support there if I need it, I just need to go for it. Sometimes I think I put my expectations too high for myself as I think I need to do everything right and in a perfect manner but I’m trying to keep reminding myself that I’m only a junior OT, I’m still learning so all I can do is what I’ve been taught and learn from my mistakes.  I’ve got a few weekend shifts coming up where I will have to see patients in other areas so it’ll be interesting to see how I manage with that.

On another note, a wee update: I’m nearly 6 months into my post now. Gosh. It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Edinburgh for this long and working in that team.  I still feel I’m making slow progress which is good but still a fair bit to go I think. As people say it does take a year to feel comfortable in your role and I am aware MOE is a complex area. In the mean time though I’m enjoying everything I’m learning about and the experiences I’m gaining from working in that area. I should add too I do really enjoy the team I work with at the moment. Today for someone’s birthday we got to play musical chairs (note that I won and got to have percy pig tails as a prize, wew!), sit around and listen to acoustic guitar my colleague brought in and eat cake.  Not a bad day!

Anyhow I feel I’ve talked for wayyyy too long so I shall leave it at that. Feel free to message me or leave me a comment about anything including any questions you may have, if you found my blog useful, advice, constructive criticism etc.


Sam : ).


Regina Spektor

What a performance Regina Spektor put on at Glasgow. She's a great piano player, songwriter and her voice is so unique and wonderful.  Definitely an inspiration, I will be taking piano lessons when I eventually get one!

Regina Spektor – 20/08/2013 – Glasgow Academy

What a performance Regina Spektor put on at Glasgow. She’s a great piano player, songwriter and her voice is so unique and wonderful. Definitely an inspiration. Seen as my keyboard has broken I may as well invest in a new piano and get lessons. I always found it really therapeutic and a great way to relieve stress, the closest thing I can get to that now is my Keytar on Rockband! I may definitely have to head towards the ‘music as a therapy’ side of OT in the near future.

On another note, I know I have not blogged in a while but hopefully this is a start to regular blogging! In the middle of writing my next OT related one so expect something new soon!

TTFN! : )

Making the Jump

So I’m now about 4 months into my first OT post after qualifying last year.  I feel I’ve settled in well at work and I couldn’t wish for better people to work with however I’m still at the point where everyday feels like a challenge. Working in Medicine of the Elderly isn’t as straight forward as I imagined it to be; every case is different and most are complex. In a way it feels like doing a university assignment; you’re apprehensive about what you’re supposed to be doing, you gather all the information you think you’ll need, you’ll make a start and make changes along the way and all the while you constantly have to look for reassurance or any signs that you’re on the right track. Your adrenaline levels build up because you know your time is limited and you’re not sure if what you’ve done is what is expected of you. I recently learnt that it takes about 90 minutes for adrenaline levels to return to normal so by the time I’ve left work, travelled home and settled down to tea, I’m finally feeling back to my baseline. On hectic days I never feel fully relaxed because the anxiety is there that I know I’ll have to go through the same thing the next day. As many people have said; it’s like a roller-coaster ride. You’ll have your good and bad days. The littlest things can knock your confidence back and it seems you feel a lot more vulnerable when everything is new and you’ve not quite found your feet yet.

At the minute I seem to be in an experimental stage, finding out what works best for me to manage my caseload, working out the approach I want to take with my patients, to my colleagues and working out more about who I am and who I want to be.  As many NQOTs in the BJOT articles have identified this job can change both your professional and personal identity. I’ve found some of my interests have changed and I’ve learnt to prioritise different hobbies/interests and took up new ones or rekindled old ones.  Many have said it can take a year to be confident in this job role so I know I’ve still a long way to go.

I see it as making a jump.  Let’s say cliff diving as an example. You stand at the top and look down knowing what you’re about to get yourself into so you’re apprehensive about doing it. You prepare to make the move by taking a few steps forward but then your anxiety takes you a few steps back. As you take the leap the air resistance pushes against you throwing everything it can from stopping you from reaching your goal. As you finally reach the water and resurface you erupt in triumph realising that you did it, you achieved what you set out to and you did a damn good job. I hope to reach this point but at the minute if I was to place myself in that context I would say I was still falling to reach my goal and I’m taking on new challenges everyday but I know I’ll get there, I’ve just got to be patient.

As I write this things have been going well. A week or so ago I had a bit of a set back but I feel I’ve found my feet again. Though I’m expecting something to knock my confidence again and take my back to square one.  It all seems to be mind over matter though. If I don’t think I can do the job and have zero confidence in myself then I can’t do it but if I just have the confidence and go for it, I can.

By samrutherford Posted in Blog

A bit about me.

Since this is my first legitimate post on here I thought I’d post a bit of information about myself to begin with.

I’m currently working in a hospital for the NHS in Edinburgh, Scotland specialising in Medicine of the Elderly. This required me to move away from my home town in Ashington, Northumberland. I qualified last June and gave myself a much needed break over the summer and got a job at Argos till mid march March 2013  then on the 18th I started my first OT post!  I was a bit apprehensive about moving here. Even though I love the city and I have a couple of friends who live here I knew the stress of moving away from home, living on my own and starting my first ever OT job would be overwhelming.

Outside of work I use social networking for support at times and engage in talks such as #OTalk on Tuesdays when I can on Twitter. I recently participated in a talk about the transition from student to practitioner which inspired me to start this Blog and I belong to several OT groups on Facebook.



So as I write this I’m just over a month into my first post. I’ve been spending a lot of my time seeing friends I’ve made here and sorting my flat out so unfortunately I’ve not had much time to Blog but here’s hoping this is the start!

By samrutherford Posted in Blog