Ten Ways Physicians Can Reduce Stress

March 12, 2014

Life is short - don't let anxiety keep you from enjoying it.

1. Exercise. Hit the gym, go for a run, or take a walk around the block. Exercise, in any form, will help clear your head and put you in a better mood. A great workout will also help you sleep better, which, in turn, will reduce your stress levels.

2. Meditate. Take a few minutes to calm your mind each day. One popular meditation technique to try: Sit still, close your eyes, and focus only on the sound and feel of your breathing. When other thoughts distract you, refocus. Don't be discouraged if this is difficult at first; it will get easier with practice.

3. Live in the moment. When stress overwhelms you, it's important to maintain perspective. Step back and focus on appreciating what is happening around you. As one of our Facebook fans says, "Taking time to enjoy the love of my children takes all the stress away."

4. Learn to say no. Attention people pleasers: This one's for you. If baking cookies for your office party means you will have to stay up until midnight to get them done, don't offer to bake them. If you don't have time to make a fantastic meal for your kids, relax and order a pizza. Remember: Sometimes you need to put yourself first in order to give others your best self.

5. Don't bottle it up. Don't let your worries run rampant through your mind all day - and night. Take a few minutes to write down what is stressing you out or vent to a friend. Once you've let it out, you will be surprised at how much more manageable everything seems.

6. Find time to play. Play with your kids, work on a craft, paint, draw, or write. Getting your creative juices flowing will get your mind off your worries. When play time is over, you will feel recharged and ready to greet the day.

7. Write a "gratitude" list. Multiple studies have shown that the happiest people in the world aren't stressing over what they don't have; they feel grateful for what they do have. By writing a daily gratitude list of things you're grateful for, you may see there's less to stress about - and that you're not doing too badly!

8. Don't eat at your desk. We all get a little too busy now and then. But even on the most intense, work-laden days, it's important to at least try to consume your lunch away from your workstation. Take time to savor you meal as your worries float away. If going out for lunch is too costly or time-consuming, find a colleague to buddy up with and eat your brown-bagged goods with good conversation.

9. Escape. Whether it's getting lost in the latest reality TV drama or flipping through a travel magazine, we all need a little mental break from our daily routine. Our Facebook fans cited everything from indulging in a good book to listening to music as foolproof ways to escape on hectic days.

10. Eat healthy. When you're feeling overwhelmed, the temptation to dive into a box of donuts or chocolate-covered caramels is hard to resist. But indulging in fatty and sugar-laden foods will do little more than offer temporary relief. Opt for healthier fare such as fresh fruit and you'll enjoy more long-term, stress-relieving benefits.

Marisa Torrieri is an associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at marisa.torrieri@ubm.com.

Aubrey Westgate is senior editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at aubrey.westgate@ubm.com.