450 Years

MY CITY LIFE: DR ALEX GEORGE

The A&E doctor, mental health ambassador and TV presenter on what London means to him and how he looks after his wellbeing while living and working in the city

02 June, 2021

 

Where in London do you live and work?

I live in the Clapham area of London and have done so for the last few years. I moved to London in 2015, to start my working life as a doctor. Initially I worked in King’s College Hospital but since 2016 I have been based at Lewisham and Greenwich Trust.


What’s your earliest memory of London?

I remember visiting London as a child, travelling from Wales to visit Hamleys, the famous children’s department store. I was so excited at the lights and sounds of the bustling city streets. The whole experience was completely different to the leafy countryside I was used to. I continued to visit London many times throughout my teenage years and early 20s and have always found the place so inspiring. There’s a sense of purpose that surrounds this city’s streets.


What makes London special to you?

I love the sense that you are part of something here. There are always new and exciting things happening, and in many ways London can feel like the centre of the world at times. It is also where I began my career as a doctor, a place that has shaped me throughout my 20s. I feel that there is a big part of me here now.


How would you describe London in three words?

Diverse, inspiring, resilient.

What’s your usual morning ritual?

I am a morning person who loves to get up early(ish), around 7am, to get outside for a walk and some fresh air. I always grab a coffee before my day starts. I find a sense of routine is great for starting the day in the right mindset. The most important ingredient of my morning ritual is to go for a good walk and clear my mind. My routine has changed very little since the pandemic has started, in fact it has held me in very good stead throughout.


What do you do to keep a good work-life balance?

I separate my ‘work time’ and ‘down time’ as much as possible. We have all been working from home this last year and this has meant it is very hard to ever truly switch off. I make sure that throughout my day I have several breaks (mostly spent walking) and try to finish my working day with a workout. This allows me to unwind and mark the end of that day. From then on, it’s laptop closed and time to unwind.


What activities, habits or rituals have you found help you to maintain good mental health through challenging times?

Bath bombs! They have been my saviour. A big part of my routine to unwind.

 

Are there any particular resources that you use, and would recommend, to help keep a positive state of mind?

Well, of course I have to mention my podcast The Waiting Room, which is full of invaluable health tips as well as incredible stories from other healthcare professionals that are so uplifting and inspiring. I’m also a big fan of Elizabeth Day’s podcast, How To Fail. Elizabeth is such a positive person, and her podcast reminds us that through our failures can come great success, which is perfect for a positive mindset and motivation.

For me, music has a massive impact on my mood, so I definitely recommend making sure you always have good playlists ready to boost your mood. I also use the app Headspace, its rain sounds are great for helping me to unwind before bed.

I find a sense of routine is great for starting the day in the right mindset. The most important ingredient of my morning ritual is to go for a good walk and clear my mind


What do you like to do to relax?

Walking is my tonic. Also driving my car around, I just love it.


What’s the best book you’ve read in the past 6 months?

Essentialism by Greg McKeown ­– great for focusing on ‘less but better’.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

‘Life throws us into the deep end at times. However, with the help of family and friends we overcome even the most seemingly insurmountable challenges.’ This was from my consultant Dr Nigel Harrison at Lewisham Hospital, after my brother passed away last year.


What thought always puts you in a good mood?

Driving a sports car, it always puts a smile on my face!


Dr Alex George is an A&E doctor who has been working on the front-line throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. He is also a TV doctor and the resident presenter on ITV’s Lorraine show. Alex is on a mission to make mental health education compulsory in schools – campaigning with charities such as YoungMinds, Anna Freud Centre and Mind – with a goal to ensure mental health sits alongside the likes of maths and English on the curriculum. Alex has now been appointed by the Prime Minister as Youth Mental Health Ambassador to the government. Alex’s podcast The Waiting Room is available on all major streaming platforms and his first book Live Well Every Day was published May 2021 and is a Sunday Times Number 1 bestseller. Follow Alex on Instagram @dralexgeorge


The Royal Exchange is partnering with Mind in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest to encourage conversations about mental health, wellbeing and community spirit. For further information on Mind in the City, its support services – a range of innovative and collaborative services to support people’s mental and physical wellbeing, resilience and recovery – and how you can get involved with campaigning, fundraising or volunteering, please visit: mindchwf.org.uk

Mind in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest is part of the national Mind network, which provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. If you, or anyone you know, is experiencing difficulties, visit mind.org.uk to access information about a broad range of topics and services, designed to help you overcome the challenges of this difficult time