The medical fraternity has seen a sharp increase in the deterioration of their mental health, particularly in areas such as stress, anxiety, depression, substance use disorders and burnout. The main causative factors for the increase in rates are too long working hours, poor patient prognosis, argumentative interactions and interpersonal interactions with colleagues.
Because of the high pressure, doctors and healthcare workers tend to experience high levels of burnout and occupational stress, but addressing emotional exhaustion can improve enthusiasm for work, feeling hopeful and successful. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Shamantha K, a counseling psychologist at Fortis Hospital on Cunningham Road, Bangalore, shared some of the ways doctors and health professionals can de-stress:
1. Meditation with physical exercise – to improve the resilience of the mind and body
2. Rest and leisure – quality sleep, frequent naps, breathing exercises, yoga, etc.
3. Practice attention
4. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
6. Indulging in various therapies such as music, art, movement, smells or animals
7. Writing down gratitude, stress levels and emotions
8. Removing clutter from physical spaces
9. Have good working relationships
10. Abstaining from the use of substances of any kind
Stating that doctors and healthcare professionals are known to be overworked, sleep deprived and stressed due to the kind of dedication and effort expected of them in their profession, Dr Shradha Shejekar, MBBS, MD, Psychiatry at Altius Hospital, said, “Ironically, doctors they always advise their patients to avoid stress and modify their lifestyle to be stress-free, but it is difficult for them to implement it in their lives because of the busy routine they have, but unfortunately doctors are also human and stress does not spare anyone. So it’s wise to adapt to certain changes in your daily schedule to beat stress and bounce back.”
These lifestyle modifications include:
1. Maintain fixed working hours as much as possible.
2. Plan the weekend ahead of time schedule at least one trip/fun activity to look forward to every weekend as a reward for working hard during the week.
3. Avoid too much caffeine – Stick to 1-2 cups a day if needed.
4. Even during OPD, take a break of 5-10 minutes every 1-2 hours to stretch, walk, drink some water, look out the window and breathe fresh air.
5. Sleep well even if you have night shifts. This will surely reduce nervousness, headache and make your brain active.
6. Practice yoga, breathing exercises before you start your day. This calms anxiety, helps with better planning and opens the mind.
7. Try listening to your favorite soothing songs when free music at work can be a great relaxer.
8. Include colorful posters, flowers, aroma in the OPD and good ventilation to maintain energy levels throughout the day.
9. Maintain time boundaries, avoid sharing personal contact information unless absolutely necessary, and allow the patient to be aware of your business hours. In the meantime, let them know about alternative emergency help if you’re not working.
10. Make sure you have at least 1-2 hours of family time every day to share the day with them and talk, because talking is ventilation, and ventilation makes it easier to breathe and feel relaxed.