My job can be stressful. As a physician, lots of unexpected things can happen and I need to response quickly and precisely.
Last Friday was incredibly busy. I had a number of emergencies with two of my patients so I had to rush to the hospital. I had a backlog of patients at my clinic who all had appointments which were now all running behind. However, work wasn’t the only thing that would prove to be a headache.
I was excited to get home. I had the house to myself and I couldn’t wait to kick my shoes off, have a shower, and relax.
I wanted to get home as quickly as possible so I decided to catch a cab. As I got out of the cab and walked to the front door, I realised I had left my keys at the office in a rush to get home.
At that moment, I could feel my heart beat rise. I could instantly feel my muscles tighten and a surge of anger and frustration swept through my body. I was already stressed from the day and at that moment it just seemed to snowball. Have you ever had that experience?
Stress is a huge part of everyday life, and if not managed correctly it can be detrimental to your health.
Why Do We Feel Stress?
Stress is how the body reacts to any change that requires a response. The bodies reactions to these changes can be physical, mental and emotional.
Stress is excellent at keeping us alert and ready to avoid danger. When something happens, the body releases hormones and increases your heart and breathing rate. Your brain gets more oxygen, make thoughts clearer for solving problems. In the short term, it is designed to help us cope with tough situations.
The problem occurs when we feel stressed over a continuous amount of time without relief or relaxation between challenges. We can become overworked and tense.
As I stared at my locked door I could definitely feel that rising tension.
What Are The Impacts Of Continuous Stress?
Stress that continuous with no breaks can lead to distress, which is a negative stress reaction. Distress can lead to headaches, elevated blood pressure, upset stomach, chest pain and problems sleeping. Research suggests it can also impact your immunity against diseases.
How Can We Reduce Stress?
When can’t control when unexpected events are bound to happen. However, we can control our response to these circumstances.
The amount of stress you feel can often come down to how you cope with an unexpected circumstance. Luckily, like any skill, you can learn how to deal with the unexpected effectively. Through practice and repetition, you can get better at it.
Here are some things you can do when the unexpected occurs.
Stop And Breath
While some situations may require an immediate reaction, in most cases the best option is usually to take a short step back. Use this moment to take 2 or 3 breaths to compose yourself and consider an appropriate response to a situation.
Remember not to panic. In circumstances where you may need people, people may be less inclines to agree or help you if you don’t have control of yourself. Panic can also be contagious, so take the time to breath and get your bearings.
Can you remember all those times when something didn’t go to plan, but you still managed to overcome the problem? Great, you are capable of dealing with the unexpected.
If you don’t react well you are more likely to makes mistakes. Trying to maintain a positive attitude even in the face of a challenge will inevitably reap rewards.
Staying optimistic can be easier said that done. It takes practice if it is not a natural state for you.
I good way to approach an unexpected problem is to associate with it as an opportunity in disguise. Look at where the opportunity for you to show your initiative, and how you cope under pressure.
An unexpected event is a perfect opportunity to prove how capable you are in a crisis situation, however, it doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, or advice from other people around a situation. If you don’t, you just be making life harder for yourself.
Seek help when it makes sense, and don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion if you are unsure.
Get In Action
So, you have managed to stop, take a breath and carefully considered what to do. Excellent. You have consulted others and received feedback to solve the problem. Perfect.
The only thing left to so it to get in action.
Sitting still and doing nothing, can cause a situation to get worse and increase your stress. By getting in action and executing a well thought out plan, you can minimise the problem and ease your stress.
Focus On The Big Picture
Sometimes a grand plan is to get over a situation isn’t really need. Sometimes all you need to do is remember why you are doing it, and get on with doing your job in less than ideal circumstances.
Prevent Future Stress
So you have managed to come out the other end, maybe a little battered and bruised, but everything turned out fine. Does this mean you can forget about the problem and get back to normal?
If you don’t want the problem to happen again, evaluate what happened and why. How did it come up in the first place? What is the best way to prevent it? How can I manage it more effectively?
By answering these questions now, you can be sure that the issue will likely not occur again. If it does, you will already have a well thought-out plan that you can put in action.
Relax, Relax, Relax.
Modern lives can be very busy. During the hustle and bustle of our lives, we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. Which can quickly lead to distress and burnout.
Relaxing helps rejuvenate the body and mind and leaves us better equipped for dealing with the unexpected and stressful situations.
Find something that you enjoy and make sure you do it regularly. Set times in your calendar and make sure it is uninterrupted and you stick to it. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time. Just enough for you to disconnect from the craziness of life and relax.
Exercise is the bodies natural way of reducing stress. Just about any form of physical activity can help relieve stress and reduce anger, tension and frustration.
Exercise releases endorphins that lift your mood, leaving you feeling good. It can also serve as a good distraction from everyday worries.
Like relaxing, find an activity you enjoy and stick to it. Put it in your calendar and make sure it is uninterrupted by anything else.
Expect And Accept The Unexpected.
“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is.” I don’t remember who said this, but it is a perfect reminder that however routine your job might be, there is always the possibility of the unexpected.
Ever wonder why some people thrive in the unexpected and others just deal with it? It’s because they expect the unexpected. They expect it and they prepare for it.
Whilst you cannot prepare for everything, you can protect yourself against common problems.
Just Go With The Flow
Unfortunately, I hadn’t foreseen myself being locked out. But luckily I had my phone and called a locksmith to let me in.
Whilst I waiting for the locksmith, I decided, instead of being frustrated with the situation I would make the most of it.
As I lay on my front lawn and look up and the stars I felt myself relaxing. If it wasn’t for that moment I wouldn’t have come up with the idea for this article.
So at times, just take a breath, relax and go with the flow.
You never know what might happen.