by Christine Lamoureux, MD Being a radiologist can be stressful. With the challenges of consistently managing high-volume, complex caseloads, and shifting gears, finding ways to manage stress when not at work can be difficult. Here are strategies that work for me. Work/Life Separation Mentally and physically separating yourself from work for a time can decrease stress. We all suffer from lingering thoughts about a certain case we read or general workplace issues requiring our attention when we end our workday. For peace of mind, I like to make a list after work of things I absolutely need to address the next day. If you work as a teleradiologist from a home office like me, physical separation of work from home is difficult, so designating the rest of your home as a “work-free zone” is crucial. Rest and Recover Physical as well as mental rest is essential. Many radiologists’ schedules result in chronic sleep deprivation, a known cause of mental and physical stress and adverse health effects. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on days off, can help as your schedule allows. I view my time off as a “reset” button for my mind. I like to do things that engage my mind in areas completely separate from radiology such as reading a book, watching a favorite television program or movie, and spending time with my family, friends, and pets. An engaging hobby or activity (even household chores) can be quite meditative and allow your mind to “check out.” Exercise If sitting is the new smoking, we may all be in trouble. The first thing I do after a work shift is get moving—for me that means running, the elliptical trainer, or yoga. Any exercise is better than none. I find that exercise decreases stress, increases my mental clarity, improves my mood, and makes it easier to sit and read for long hours the next day. Lighten Up Being able to recognize and appreciate the lighter side of life can help put things into perspective. I believe it is true that laughter is the best medicine. Seek out people, places, and activities that bring you happiness when you are off work. Finding ways to manage stress outside of work allows you to go back refreshed, with better focus and perspective. Remind yourself that being a radiologist is just one facet of what makes you the complex, whole human being that you are. Christine Lamoureux, MD, is research director and musculoskeletal clinical chief for Virtual Radiologic, LLC. She lives just outside Boulder, Colorado, with her husband and two daughters. Her interests include radiologist well-being and error reduction.
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