From one Physician to Another: Managing Stress in Times of Crisis

September 5, 2017

by Robert Milman, MD

Natural disasters can take an emotional toll.

As physicians cope with the effects of Hurricane Harvey, below are tips for stress management and effective coping strategies.

SYMPTOMS OF STRESS — WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Physical

  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches and stiffness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms

Mental

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Memory loss
  • Indecisiveness
  • Confusion

Emotional

  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Fear
  • Irritability
  • Impatience

Behavioral

  • Hyperactivity
  • Change in eating habits
  • Smoking or drinking
  • Yelling
  • Abusive behavior
     

COPING STRATEGIES — WHAT DO TO

  • Maintain healthy and supportive relationships with family, friends, colleagues, patients, and staff.
  • Reach out and make connections with others in similar circumstances.
  • Engage in positive self-talk.
  • Take care of your physical self (eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep)
  • Consider meditation, mindfulness, or other self-care techniques.
  • Seek professional care if necessary.


SUBOPTIMAL COPING STRATEGIES — WHAT NOT TO DO

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Withdrawal and isolation
  • Self-medication

 

Robert Milman, MD is a radiologist in Austin, Texas. He is a senior clinical advisor at the Center for Health Communication at the University of Texas at Austin. He received advanced health communication training from the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. Dr. Milman holds additional academic appointments with the Texas A&M College of Medicine, UT Austin School of Nursing, and the University of Texas Medical Branch School of Medicine. He has given numerous health communication workshops for a wide range of audiences and presents regularly on various topics related to diagnostic imaging, clinical decision support, health communication, medical litigation and risk management.

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