Long work hours, dealing with patients, handling critical cases, and giving psychological support to patients are to be expected in a doctor’s line of work. These are some of the main contributing factors for emotional stress in medical practices.
Whether you’re a surgeon working to save a patient’s life or a general practitioner providing consultation services in the clinic, maintaining a calm and levelheaded demeanor is crucial to properly treating patients.
If you don’t step back from all the stress once in a while to take a breather, the pressure will eventually take its toll on you. This can lead to you becoming emotionally unbalanced and prone to making mistakes. To give yourself that ample breathing space, consider these tips on de-stressing:
- Take Breaks
One of the most overlooked ways of de-stressing is taking breaks between your shifts. Depending on your schedule, five to fifteen minute breaks are highly recommended for any doctor to help them re-energize. Drink some coffee, pause to meditate, or listen to some music to help you relax.
- Set aside time to finish administrative tasks
If you have to deal with administrative work, set aside time to handle it. Sticking to an established routine is essential to getting your work done quickly whether you’re checking patient records in the clinic, updating EMRs, or answering emails. The familiarity of the routine will eventually allow your mind to focus on these tasks so that you can finish them earlier and get on with your more important resposibilities. You can even use door signs to indicate that you’re busy, preventing unnecessary distractions from other people.
Stress brings about elevated cortisol levels and increased heart rate. Being in a constant state of stress is not only bad for your health, it could also negatively affect the way you carry out your work and how you make important decisions. One of the best ways to lower your stress levels is to regulate your breathing and to meditate. Studies have shown that meditation allows your brain’s lateral prefrontal cortex to function more efficiently in terms of looking at things from a more a logical and balanced perspective.
Coping with a challenging work environment requires you to get enough sleep, which allows your body and mind to rest from daily stresses that you are exposed to. Veteran physicians say between 7 to 8 hours of sleep is recommended for your body and mind to fully get rid of stress and recharge you for your next shift.
When all else fails, you can always ask help from professionals. Sit down with a qualified psychologist or counselor, and ask for their advice. There will be times when you’ll need to seek emotional support yourself, like when something goes wrong at the operating table or if a treatment plan for a patient fails. Everyone needs help at some point, so it’s a good idea to seek help from someone qualified to give it.
At the end of the day, doctors need to deal with stress to be able to perform their jobs properly. From taking a breather to getting in touch with friends and counselors, there are many things that you can do to make coping with your job easier.