STRESS

One of my former patients posted the following:

I have a lot of

Excitement 

In my life.

I used to call it STRESS

But I feel much better

Now that I call it

EXCITEMENT.

Sometimes, the difference between a winner and a loser is how they manage stress.  While we all experience stress, a person with good coping techniques/stress management skills can turn stress into excitement (or a host of other sentiments/feelings).

How do you handle stress?  Have you had any stress management courses?  Been in counseling?  Read about stress management techniques?  If not, why not?

Most of us have never had a formal education in stress management.  When you realize that all humans experience stress, it’s remarkable that so little education in stress management is made available to us through the educational system.

As a doc, it was not uncommon for me to find myself in highly stressful, life and death situations.  The 60-year-old male having a heart attack in my office was always a stressful event.  When I read the above statement, I realized that I channeled that stress into excitement as I ran my code procedures and waited for the paramedics. 

How is it possible that I went all the way through undergraduate, graduate and post graduate training without a single stress management course?  Maybe it’s because admitting that you are stressed is taboo, unmanly.  I do know that I innately possessed good stress management skills.

When I was an ER doc back in the dark ages, the most stressful thing I had to do was put in a chest tube.  In those days, putting in a chest tube was somewhat barbaric.  While I had no problem opening the chest of a 24 year old patient with a knife wound in her heart, I had an unexplainable fear of putting in a chest tube.  My stress management technique was to go to the men’s room anytime a patient needing a chest tube came into my ER. It worked until, one day, Dr. J pounded on the bathroom door.

Dr. J – “Segal, gets your ass out of the bathroom and put in this chest tube.”

ME – “I’M TAKING A DUMP.  PUT IN THE CHEST TUBE YOURSELF.”

Dr. J – “She’s going to die if you don’t get your ass out here.”

Me – “Fuck, What’s wrong with you?  Go put in the tube.  I’ll join you when I’m finished.”

Dr. J – “You’re finished now!  Time to man up and get past your fear.’

Dr. J was a great teacher and he worked side by side with me until I conquered my fear.  Stress management can be taught in a classroom, at work or at home.  There are hundreds of books and programs on stress management.  Is it time for you to get an education? The answer is YES!

There is not much I can guarantee in life but I can guarantee that, if you take a course in stress management, you will be glad you did.

Here’s your music and joke.

1. Picture yourself lying on your belly on a warm rock that hangs out over a crystal-clear stream. 
2. You can feel both your hands dangling in the cool running water. 
3. Birds are sweetly singing in the cool mountain air. 
4. No one knows your secret place. 
5. You are in total seclusion from that hectic place called “The World”. 
6. The soothing sound of a gentle waterfall fills the air with a cascade of serenity. 
7. The water is so crystal clear that you can easily make
out the face of the person you are holding underwater.
See? It really does work. You’re smiling already!

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