Five Ways Physicians Can Keep Stress in Check

April 18, 2015

Stressful clinic days will not disappear on their own. Reducing stress requires a thoughtful and deliberate approach.

At a convention, I queried of a number of attendees about how healthcare professionals and office staff could maintain high productivity, while keeping stress in check. Each made comments about not following herd mentality, especially when it meant taking an apparently easier road that resulted in less than acceptable outcomes.

A balancing act

Managing stress while seeking to achieve success requires a delicate balance. Sometimes, sub-optimizing results in more problems than it solves, and a lot more stress! Participants offered these insights:

1. Especially if you've got big goals, pace yourself.

2. Aim high while ensuring that you approach tasks with a solid understanding of what will be required to be successful.

3. Allow yourself frequent breaks, even if they're quite short.

4. Anticipate setbacks along the way. Often, you'll face a long and winding road on the way to notable breakthroughs and, certainly, everybody is subject to mistakes. People who recover quickly are more likely to be successful.

5. As you approach the goal line, don't make the mistake of coasting the rest of the way. Follow up. Devote more time and effort to ensure that your quest will bear fruit.

Eternal wisdom on managing stress

Here are some other "eternal truths" about managing stress:

• Working with stress, day after day, is an unnatural act, but it doesn't stop you from doing it.

• The less that you enjoy doing something, the more stressful it can be.

• A stressful day seems the worst in the middle, when it feels like it's never going to end.

• The hardest step is simply doing something differently from the way that you have always done it.

• You can't determine how a stress reduction technique will work for you until you commit to putting it into practice.

• You hardly ever get all the time you seek to practice a given technique.

• The quiet spaces that you find will soon be found by others. So, find several.

• A break feels best when you need it the most.

• The best results often show up a day or two after you thought they would.

• No one wants to hear about your stress, unless you pay them to do so.

• It's harder to feel stressed when you're looking good.

• When your mother says that you look tired, it actually means that you're highly stressed.

Apply what you know

Consistently diminishing stress is a hurdle that you clear on the path to becoming a more balanced person; however, you don't necessarily become more adept at managing stress as you age. Everything depends on what you learn and put into practice.