Stress is a normal part of life. However, some professionals face more stress than usual. Specifically, medical professionals, especially doctors, are presented with levels of stress above the threshold 30% more often than the average person. This is due to a variety of factors, such as increased administrative demands, the intense toll that comes from practicing medicine, long hours, and more.
The Dangers of Chronic Stress in Medicine
Long-term and chronic stress in doctors can have drastic consequences. If you have ever wondered why an attending doctor’s salary is so high, the sheer amount of pressure and stakes involved in medical care is enough to justify their rates. However, leaving stress unchecked is a real danger. It can lead to burnout, practitioner error, and even long-term health problems. Thankfully, there are effective ways doctors can manage their stress on the job and at home.
1. Manage Easy-to-Control Stressors
The best way to ease into stress management is by taking control of the environment around you. Get rid of controllable stressors such as the weight of cooking each day or even shopping for groceries. Delegating when possible, even at home, will reduce small stressors, which can lead to big results over time.
2. Guided Imagery & Meditation
Sometimes, doctors need a faster-acting method to reduce stress. Mediating is an effective way to get both short-term and long-term relief. Various techniques can be applied in just a few minutes or during longer sessions each day. Guided imagery is also an effective way to take a vacation without going anywhere. This is akin to going to a happy place within one’s mind to help calm the nerves and reduce stress.
3. Indulge Your Desires
People go through life getting rewarded for a job well done, and that shouldn’t change after joining the medical field. The job is its own reward; however, indulging in self-rewards is a great way to manage stress levels and maintain a high job satisfaction level as a doctor. This can be something as simple as taking a weekend off to go kayaking or as extravagant as taking an extended vacation. Even micro rewards on a daily or weekly basis are very effective in managing stress levels.
4. Proper Diet & Nutrition
Eating a balanced diet, working out, and getting plenty of rest are also critical when trying to manage stress. Doctors have a naturally chaotic work-life balance to maintain, which is often a major source of stress within itself. Filling your diet with mood-regulation foods such as eggs, walnuts, and avocados will produce long-term results. Consider natural supplements such as L-theanin, Ashwagandha, and Melatonin as well.
Doctor Heal Thyself
It is important to follow the same advice for stress relief as you would give to a patient. Managing stress levels isn’t complicated, but it does require dedicated effort and a change in lifestyle to be effective. A relaxed and stress-free doctor will also lead to better patient care. With the tips above, managing stress as a medical professional will be easier than ever.