After years of dreaming about it, Dr Alecia Macrow has recently started up her own family practice; Thrive in Glenelg South.
“I think I’ve always been a bit of an empath and was always that kid trying to help other kids. Becoming a doctor was really a natural choice for me. I love looking after other people and I think that’s what I’m best at.”
At Thrive Family Practice Alecia and her team try to do things differently. The practice has only two GP’s and both of them are firm advocates for lifestyle medicine.
“We do family medicine in a way I think it should be done – as a team, with the patient firmly in the centre, and with strong values of kindness and compassion.”
As well as running Thrive Family Practice Dr Alecia Macrow is an advocate for stress management, sleep, movement, and social connection.
“ I remember coming home from work one night a few years ago – it was such an epiphany – I can tell you exactly what street corner I was on. I was thinking that I had achieved everything I could have ever dreamed of – a lovely husband, three beautiful children, a supportive family, a nice house, and a good job as a GP, which I enjoyed. But I realised I was completely miserable and I couldn’t understand why. Over time, I came to understand that my life was out of balance, I was too anxious and stressed, too over-committed, and had neglected my own health and wellbeing. My path of learning since then has been about helping myself get better, and I realized that what I learned could help a lot of others too.”
It was at this moment that Alecia decided to learn all that she could about managing stress and creating a healthy lifestyle so that she could help not only her patients but other doctors as well.
“I think there is an epidemic of stress and distress among health professionals. We work hard, we work long hours, we work in a high stakes environment where mistakes can be disastrous, and often we work in ‘silos’ and can feel quite isolated.”
We asked Dr Macrow to provide some techniques for doctors who are wanting to take their health and wellbeing into their own hands and work on stress management techniques.
1. Find your tribe
Find a group of other practitioners who are passionate about what you’re passionate about, and whom you can touch base with, ask questions, and provide support.
2. Stay healthy
Eating a healthy diet, getting some exercise, and meditation are helpful. My current interests are in the low carb healthy fat space with diet. Our society has had the ‘low-fat diet’ indoctrinated into us for decades, and I think one of the unintended consequences of this is that we’ve starved our brains and nervous systems of the fats that they need. I’m also really interested in the developing science around the gut-brain axis, and the connection between food and mood. Eating whole unprocessed foods, not too many carbs, avoiding sugar and other substances is key. Sleep is another huge topic – an interview in itself!
3. Try to have fun
Remembering how to have fun is critical I think. I try to remember now to have snippets of time when I’m just present with my kids. For example, have a giggle with them, go down the slide at the playground too, actually engage in that game of twister. I feel like we get so tied up with adulting that we forget how to simply have fun, and how good that is for us.
4. Unwind after a stressful day
This can be a tricky one, especially when there is a gaggle of kids waiting for you when you get home, with all their own needs and expectations. I think the best way is to exercise; I’m lucky enough to be able to walk home which gives me 20 minutes to let the day go before I walk in the front door.