Eight in Ten Americans Suffer Physical Manifestations of Stress
Stress is a common feature in the lives of many American citizens. We see it every day in our offices, clinics and hospitals. New figures show that 77% of Americans’ stress levels are causing them to experience the nasty symptoms that we all know that stress can create. Fatigue, stomach issues, headaches and more are all associated with stress. As physicians we know this better than anyone and, yet, we still allow our everyday lives to stress us out and compromise our health.
Our minds, bodies and spirits are all often out of alignment. We are commonly spending our lives stressed out, not eating well, sleeping less than we should and feeling exhausted. We know the terrible effects that this can have on our bodies, we tell our patients about the dangers of stress every day, but most of us don’t practice what we preach.
The Work Stress Survey, published on April 9th 2013 confirmed that most American’s work lives are a source of significant stress. There is probably a misconception that we physicians are so well-paid and that our jobs are so “cushy” that this does not apply to us. But it certainly does. We work long hours, hold people’s lives in our hands and spend our days trying to balance our need to help sick people, with the constraints of insurance companies, pharmaceutical corporations and a general worry that we aren’t doing the right thing.
Stress sufferers must learn how to unite their body with their emotions, right? Imagine what you would tell a stressed out patient: “You have to listen to your body, take some time for YOU, relax, exercise, eat well and be emotionally open.” But do you follow that advice? Do you exercise on a regular basis, carve out “you” time or listen when your body is telling you it needs a break?
So, if you know what to do but you aren’t doing it, it may be time to question why. You’re busy? You have kids? You have a mortgage to pay and a house to keep clean? All of those things can be put into balance with keeping your stress in check. Try out some of the things you might suggest to someone in your office such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation and prayer which all help people who need to calm down and slow their minds. Also, try spending time with the people you love, going on a walk, reading a book (NOT a medical journal) and sleeping in once in a while. You are just as important as any of your patients and deserve a chance to unwind. Allow yourself that chance or we both know that your health will pay the price.Maiysha Clairborne, MD