Working in the medical field is no easy feat. From extended work hours and excessive workload to complex medical cases and demanding environment, not to mention a social and family life that needs to be paid attention to as well – physical and mental stress in doctors can be brought about by numerous causes.
Unfortunately, if you do not attempt to alleviate the stress, it may end up affecting your physical and mental state. And if you can’t take better care of yourself, then how can you take care of your patients?
What are the causes of stress in doctors?
Every person, no matter what profession he or she is in, copes with stress. Stress in the workplace is sometimes deemed as normal, serving as the motivation we need to stay productive. However, too much stress is toxic. As a medical professional, you have to interact with many different types of people – and these people are dealing with health problems and are just as stressed and dejected. Often, you have to communicate the importance of undergoing examinations and screening tests to reluctant patients, for you to determine the cause of their illness and to come up with a proper treatment plan. On top of all this, some patients make unrealistic and impractical demands from their doctors that can result in heightened stress levels. Another worry weighing doctors down is potential medical malpractice lawsuits that could be filed against them by an irate or uninformed patient or family member.
How Doctors Deal with Stress
Firstly, try to figure out what stresses you out. You can keep a journal for a week or two, and record what occurrence or which people stressed you out. Indicate how these occurrences made you feel, how you reacted, and what circumstances you wished were different. When you review your journal, you can better identify your stressors and identify patterns. Recognizing your stress triggers will help you plan how to avoid them.
As you write about your stressors, you can also write a gratitude list. Many studies have revealed that the most content people are not stressing over what they don’t have. By writing down what you are thankful for every day, you may realize that there’s not a lot of things you should be stressing about.
While there’s no definite or concrete way to make stressful situations on the job disappear entirely, dealing with them with a relaxed and rational mindset can stop the stress from intensifying.
Here are some ways you can decrease stress levels.
Leave your work issues at the office. Don’t take the worries and concerns of other people home with you.
Meditation – Meditate every day. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that doctors who meditate every day had shown signs of improved mood and feelings of patient empathy and personal accomplishment. Meditation also helped lessen fatigue, depersonalization, and emotional exhaustion. It doesn’t have to be an hour-long meditation; taking a few minutes to calm your mind will go a long way.
Here’s an easy meditation technique you can try: Find a place with not a lot of noises, sit still, close your eyes and only focus on the sound of your breathing. When you’re troubled by other thoughts, concentrate on the feel and sound of your own breathing. This technique may be difficult to follow at first, but it will get easier as you do it more often.
Exercise – Regular exercise is an effective way to lower anxiety and stress. Going for a run, hitting the gym, taking a walk around the block – any form of exercise will put you in a good mood and clear your head. A good workout is also proven to help you get more sleep, which will also decrease your stress levels.
Positivity – Remember that you’re profession revolves around helping others, so you should feel good and proud about it. This should assist in maintaining a positive outlook.
Slow down – For your own well-being, you don’t have to take on every single case that comes your way. You can say “no.” Putting yourself first will allow you to give your best to others – be it your patients, co-workers, family, or friends.
Take adequate breaks – Drinking a cup of coffee, taking a brisk walk outside, or other activities that’ll give you short, sufficient breaks throughout the day will help tremendously.
Take days off – Regularly scheduled days off will give your mind and body a chance to recharge.
Turn to your support system – Turn to your trusted friends and family for advice and comfort.
As doctors, remember that sometimes, it’s okay if not everything is going to get done on the same day. Work on accepting that, and do your best again the next day.
I am a Family Doctor in Atlanta, GA. Married to the beautiful, Susan with two sweet girls. I enjoy golfing on occasion.
You might be wondering what my domain name has to do with my profession. About three years ago, my uncle, who has many domains, created this one to help others buy a knock-off brand of sports sunglasses.
I mentioned to him that I have been domain searching and was in need of finding a way to bring information to the public regarding my family medicine practice. He was kind enough to give me the rights to own this one. I realized that creating this site benefits society in various ways by showing the many options available to relieve family stress and worry via modern medicine.