Eight Stress Management Techniques for Doctors Research has shown that doctors are more prone to stress than the general population. While being an adrenaline junky might give you the drive you need to succeed, it can take its toll on you and your patients. Hospitals in particular are stressful environments where your own wellbeing never seems to be a priority. But just as any flight attendant will tell you, look after yourself before assisting others. Here are eight stress management techniques to help you do just that. 1. Schedule your time The stress of high pressure work or study can have a damaging affect on your health. Working too hard can wreak havoc on your sleep, diet, exercise habits, relationships and social life. To prevent this, consider scheduling everything from meals to sleep to socialising. Write down how many hours a week you’d like to exercise and work out when it will happen. You don’t have to stick to it religiously, but it will help you understand exactly how much time you have. By placing working or studying hours alongside your personal time, you can get you into the habit of putting restraints on how much of your life work takes up. 2. Prioritise leisure time Acknowledge that time to yourself and time spent with friends and family is time well spent. Whether it’s a night out or a night in, treat your leisure time as a part of living a healthy life. 3. Debrief A small-scale study found that, while debriefing sessions may not reduce incidence of burnout, they do provide emotional support for junior doctors. Take opportunities to talk about your experiences with colleagues in both formal and informal settings. You may like to join a group where you can discuss work issues, such as the Balint Society. This member-based organisation enables clinicians to discuss cases from their practices with a focus on the clinician-patient relationship. 4. Practice self-forgiveness Your time is a precious commodity and medicine is high-pressure career. Let’s face it, you’re never going to make everyone happy. Acknowledge this and get out of the habit of dwelling on the commitments you let slip. If there was an event you couldn’t attend or a favour you couldn’t perform then that’s OK. Apologise, reprioritise, and learn to say no if you don’t have the time. But most importantly, be kind to yourself and don’t allow your thoughts to be consumed by guilt. 5. Exercise You already know it, but let us remind you. The evidence is clear: physical activity is a highly efficient stress buster. Just like you’d recommend to your patients, make sure you get your minimum 30 minutes of heart rate raising exercise five times a week. 6. Relax and breathe deep Meditation methods such as yoga are widely recommended for combatting the symptoms of stress. One approach that might help is practicing relaxation techniques outside of your weekly yoga class. ReachOut has a guide to progressive muscle relaxation you can use almost anywhere. 7. Watch your caffeine and alcohol intake Be conscious of what triggers you to reach for coffee or a glass of wine. A caffeine buzz can mirror the symptoms of anxiety and contribute to feeling stressed. It’s important that you don’t rely on caffeine or alcohol to regulate sleep or otherwise cope with stress. 8. Know your personality We all have different stress triggers. You may be able to better manage stress if you know your personality and what prompts you to experience stress. On GP Options we have guides to the working styles, stress factors, and strategies for doctors and medical students to manage stress. These are based on the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicators, which match individuals to one of 16 personality types. Just take the short personality test to find your personality type and a guide will be emailed to you.