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How Physicians Can Take Care of Their Mental Health

As a physician, patients come to you expecting you to help them be healthier, and your own personal health is an important factor in promoting good health and preventing diseases. If you’re not healthy, then how can you expect your patients to trust you and listen to what you have to say?

Mental Health Is Critical

Health encompasses many aspects, not just physical health. Mental health is just as important. Unfortunately, the demands placed on physicians to take on more work can cause frustrations as it detracts from the quality of care that is needed in today’s healthcare.

A study conducted by the University of Michigan, which appeared in General Hospital Psychiatry reported that doctors are less likely to seek mental health treatment and are at a higher risk of suicide. Another article published on the New York Times website (“Doctors’ Toughest Diagnosis: Own Mental Health”) stated that many doctors don’t seek treatment for psychiatric conditions because they fear that it will damage their careers. The culture dictates that they put the needs of their patients ahead of their own, and that’s a recipe for mental disaster.

Stress is arguably one of the leading causes of ill health, and it affects a person’s body much more than we know. This is where developing a healthy mindset and attitude plays a critical role in the work you do. Without these characteristics, you face challenges in communicating effectively with patients and colleagues, which could possibly lead to medical errors.

Tips To Alleviate Stress and Prevent Physician Burnout

So what can you do to take care of your mental health?

Exercise consistently – According to the Anxiety And Depression Association of America, exercise is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and enhancing overall cognitive function. Just five minutes a day of aerobic exercise can help.

Practice mindfulness – There are many definitions of mindfulness, but in essence it means having focused attention and being in the present moment. Many physicians are living in “flight or fight” mode, and practicing mindfulness requires one to slow down, to really listen and pay attention to the people you are interacting with, and to be more aware of what is going on around you.

Meditate – It’s easy to get caught up in the everyday rush of life, so meditation helps to calm you down and quiet all the mindless chatter. A study conducted at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that meditation works just as well as conventional anti-depressants.

Being mentally fit for your patients is just as important as being physically fit. Make a commitment to your personal health and you will experience an improvement in work satisfaction and overall sense of worth.