Ways to Reduce Stress as a Physician

Stress is a part of everyone's life, but as a resident or fellow in training, you face extra stress. Not only do you have to focus on learning the key aspects of your specialty, you also have the responsibility of taking care of patients.‌ Even though the general public may look at doctors as the epitome of health, we know that this is not the case for every doctor. Let's look at some healthy, easy ways to reduce stress, even with a busy schedule.

Physician Stress

Maximize Your Time

As a physician, you know that it can feel like there are not enough hours in the day, but you can maximize your limited time. Structure out your days as much as you can. You may not have control over your work schedule or call schedule, but there are ways to organize the time in-between in a way that makes more sense to you. This may mean that before you start sipping on your morning coffee, you pull out your charts to study before making rounds. You also need to make the decision of what items or tasks need to be completed before others. In your personal time, you can also organize your week or days to accomplish important tasks on specific days. This gives you the power to force everything into one or two days and the freedom to spread it out through the week. By doing a batch meal prep or setting up a laundry night, this gives your week more structure to help avoid the stress of wondering when you'll find the time to do it.

Set Aside Time to Do Something You Love

Find activities that relax you. This may mean that you spend your time running at the gym and lifting weights, or perhaps you feel more relaxed reading or playing video games. You'll want to find an activity that suits you. Not everyone enjoys running through the woods or playing computer games, so it is important that you find an activity that brings you tranquility and joy. Do you have an activity in mind that relaxes you? Take a moment to think back to when you were last able to do it. If it's been a month or longer, take thirty minutes out of your day to do that activity. By adding relaxation breaks to your day/week, this gives you the chance to avoid stress.

Go Easy on Yourself

Realize that you are human. People generally don't do well with isolation and internally harboring emotions, so it is especially important to have a support system to fall back on. Some days, training may break you down mentally, or physically, so on those days it is important to have someone to talk to. This can be a colleague, mentor, family member, significant other, or anyone you trust. Being able to reach out and talk about why you are feeling down, upset, defeated, or frustrated is a great way for you to work through these feelings. You may find that you are not the only person struggling with your issue. Having a support system, whether it's one person or a group, is a great way to manage stress.