The demanding hours and workload of doctors make stress an inevitable foe that they must beat to avoid burnout at the workplace. While stress is a natural reaction that humans need in order to stay alert and active in the face of perceived threats, large amounts of it can take a massive toll on our well-being. At its worst, chronic stress can cause or exacerbate a host of health and emotional issues like breathing problems, heart disease, insomnia, depression, and anxiety.
To fight stress, doctors can use a variety of workout and relaxation techniques that can get the blood pumping and soothe the mind. Most of these de-stressing techniques are simple and easy to do, free or low cost, and take up only a short amount of time to accomplish.
Try doing yoga:
Yoga is a tried and tested self-improvement practice that’s been around for more than five thousand years. This practice utilizes common stress-relieving techniques like meditation, breathing exercises, and imagery and movement. It can also help make your body more flexible and fit!
Go for a stroll:
Taking a quiet and meditative walk outdoors can refresh your mind and body. The fresh air and sunlight coupled with the easy exercise can do wonders for your stress. In fact, any form of physical activity can help you de-stress because exercising releases happiness-inducing endorphins and the calming neurotransmitter GABA. Aside from taking walks, you can also go jogging or biking.
Opt for some music therapy:
There have been many studies through the years that show the influence that music has on people’s mood. Filling your ears with music you love can help reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Listening to certain types of tunes can also lower your blood pressure and relax your mind and body.
Give aromatherapy a try:
Aromatherapy is a practice that involves aerial diffusion of essential plant oils. This practice goes way back to the time of the ancient Egyptians, when it was used for massages and healing. You can also try aromatherapy to manage stress by using an oil burner, by topical application, or by inhalation. Try natural essential oil scents like geranium, lavender, chamomile, and peppermint.
Do some short breathing exercises:
Breathing exercises are short and convenient stress busters that anyone can do anywhere and anytime! Through deep breathing, you can increase your alertness and keep your muscles relaxed.
There are various types of breathing exercises that you can do, but the simplest one you can try is the karate breathing exercise. To do this, you must first sit in a comfortable position. With a straight back and closed eyes, take deep breaths through your nose to expand your belly and hold your breath for six seconds. Exhale through your mouth without moving your shoulders up and down. You can repeat this as many times as you wish until you feel centered.
Meditation involves sitting in a relaxed position and doing some breathing exercises to put your mind at ease. Focus on something, for instance, a single sound (the “ommm” sound we often hear meditators hum), a mantra, the rhythm of your breathing, or nothing at all. When meditating, our brains enter a sleep-like trance that keeps our thoughts calm and clean. At least 20 minutes is needed for one to get the most out of meditating, and the longer you meditate, the greater the benefits are.
Laugh without restraint:
While it may seem hard to do when you are stressed, laughing has psychological and physiological benefits. It releases endorphins and serotonin, two major mood-elevating neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters can keep depression away and can increase happiness and optimism. In addition, according to one study, our facial expressions and our brains are interconnected, so putting on a positive face can help improve our mood. Try simple things to make yourself giggle, like watching a hilarious movie or reading books with funny storylines.
Even though stress is a natural part of your life, it should never be left unchecked because it can cause more problems. Elevated stress levels are not only detrimental to your health as a doctor, it can also result in dire repercussions for your patients. To prevent this from happening, make sure to take steps to keep stress at bay.