Stress is the body's physiological and psychological response to trauma. Studies show that stress can lead to depersonalisation and emotional disconnection with patients, and this can lead to increases in major medical errors.
There could be a multitude of reasons that you are stressed. It is could be induced by certain situations, particularly ones we feel that we have no control over, in the hospital or practice we are sure you experience these every day! It could also stem from a feeling of being overwhelmed or a result of emotional trauma.
Prolonged stress leads to burnout, the trick is to manage it effectively before it gets to this stage, the wellbeing of our doctors is important to us, that's why we've compiled five "stress-busting" activities to help you relax after a long (or harrowing) shift.
The first step to busting stress, is noticing the triggers and nipping them in the bud before it gets worse. Common signs of rising stress include: heart palpitations, constricting of the chest, sweating, jaw clenching, and shaking. If you notice that a situation has evoked any of these identifiers, this is when you can take a deep breath, reset, and dispel the stress before it consumes your being.
If you have noticed some stress triggers starting to take hold a good way to alleviate them is to adjust your thinking. Remind yourself that stress can lead to an array of health problems, and then ask yourself "Is this job really worth making myself sick over?" or "Is this person?" After all, what does "stress" actually achieve, it is a wasted emotion that will not change the situation. I know that when you are in a high-stress situation harnessing this kind of perspective can be tough! But this is a good one to use on those little things.
So you've ignored the triggers and stress has taken hold, it's OK because there are still things you can do to relieve yourself and unwind after you have left the situation. Exercise is a great option, this could be as simple as going for a quick walk away from the situation or it could be something you take more time with when you get home.
Taking a moment to work on something you are passionate about is another good way to reduce stress. This might be cooking, art, playing video games, reading a book, or watching a movie, take the time to do something you love and watch how quickly the knot in your chest dissolves.
If you want to manage your stress on a long-term basis engaging in the study and practice of relaxation techniques (like meditation) is super important. You can meditate to relieve yourself of stress, but meditating daily (regardless of whether you are stressed or not) is a great preventative tactic. Many doctors attribute meditation as a leading factor in healing and overcoming burnout.
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