How to Manage Stress, Instead of Avoiding it

Photo by tetmc/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by tetmc/iStock / Getty Images

How to Manage Stress, Instead of Avoiding It

Stress is one of the primary contributors to burnout among surgeons (and other working professionals, for that matter). Most people try their best to avoid stress in their everyday lives. We’re constantly told to “live a stress-free life” – but that type of thinking is actually detrimental. Stress is a part of everyone’s life. Avoiding stress will only exacerbate and compound the issue. We’d be much better off by managing the stress in our lives, rather than outright avoiding it. In this article, we’re going to offer some tips for managing (instead of avoiding) stress as it arises.

Practice Healthy Habits

Doctors and surgeons encounter extreme levels of stress in their daily lives. When you’re literally holding a patient’s life in your hands, it’s no surprise that stress levels can be high. With such massive levels of stress, many people will turn to unhealthy habits in order to deal with their stress levels. Some physicians smoke cigarettes, or drink heavily, or eat a lot of junk food. These vices offer short-term stress relief, but are unhealthy and detrimental in the long-run. Try to combat these bad habits by forming healthy habits that reduce stress, like exercise, meditation, and socialization.


A solid night’s sleep on a consistent basis is absolutely crucial to managing stress. We’ve all woken up after a poor night’s sleep and been irritable the entire day. Doctors often have to work long shifts at odd hours. That can lead to irregular and unhealthy sleep patterns. It’s amazing what a consistent sleep schedule can do to manage your stress levels. Do your best to create and stick to a sleep schedule by setting sleep goals for yourself.

Recognize & Address the Issue

Many surgeons bury their stress and go about their days as normal. When stress lurks below the surface, it’s bound to bubble up eventually and negatively impact your performance. It’s important to recognize stress and address it, rather than trying to avoid or bury it.

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