Managing one’s own stresses is the toughest part of practising medicine,” said Dr Oscar London, an internist from Berkeley, California, who wrote a series of humorous essays on doctoring in the San Francisco Chronicle.
A typical day for K. Hari Prasad, CEO, central zone, Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad: “I reach hospital by 9am, have a morning meeting with all (heads of department) at 9.30, after which I make rounds of the hospital. This is followed by multiple meetings... I come back home by 9pm. I receive at least five-six calls every day outside working hours.”
And while seeing patients may be the core of the work day for a doctor, it is far from being the only duty. Virender Sangwan, head of cornea, ocular immunology and uveitis service and associate director of LV Prasad Eye Institute, Kallam Anji Reddy Campus, Hyderabad, says, “We work round the clock dealing with meetings, research matters, extensive domestic and international travel for professional meetings and conferences... I also like to mentor younger doctors and spend time with them.” As a surgeon, his typical day involves 18-20 surgeries.
With all this on their charts, it is logical to expect that doctors would have developed superior coping mechanisms to deal with stress. Can you take a leaf out of their self-help manuals? We spoke to seven doctors across the country about their stress busters.
Dr Ashok Seth
Chairman and chief cardiologist, Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre, New Delhi
I relieve my daily stress (with) regular morning exercise for 45 minutes, which makes one feel positive. I also take regular short holidays with the family...I enjoy scuba-diving and am a Padi (Professional Association of Diving Instructors)-certified diver...
I have been learning music for the last three years and do riyaz (regular practice) with my guruji (twice a week, for one-and-a-half hours each time). Music is like meditation; it provides happiness and gives me relief from tension and anxieties...
I advise my patients that they should keep some time aside for meditation and spirituality as it helps absorb the stresses of life more easily. Mark some time of the day as “me time” (exercise, read a book or listen to music) and “us time” (spend time with your family and friends).
Dr Ranjana Dhanu
Gynaecologist, Leelavati Hospital, Mumbai
Yoga is something that I believe in and is a part of my daily routine. My day starts at 6.30am with yoga. I have my instructor from Bharat Thakur’s yoga institute (Artistic Yoga Training Institute), who comes home to train me.
I like listening to music, though the type of music varies according to the activity and time. Such as (with) yoga, it is light Indian classical music, whereas during operative hours at work, it is light Hindi music, and while commuting, it is FM, which is quite entertaining.
Dr K Hari Prasad
CEO (central zone), Apollo Hospitals, and chief executive, Apollo Health City, Hyderabad
I thoroughly enjoy my work, but at times stress does creep in. Watching television, spen-ding time with my children and an occasional drive help me in de-stressing.
Choose an appropriate tool to keep stress away—such as yoga, exercise, walking, playing a game of tennis... It could be anything that takes your mind off from the routine life. Also, you should not shy away from seeking help when stress becomes a significant factor in day-to-day life.
Shoot to relax: Orthopaedic surgeon Gautam Basu’s only hobby is photography, which he uses to simply ‘forget’ stress.
Dr Gautam Basu
Consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratisthan, Kolkata
Photography is my only hobby and relaxing activity—in fact, an exhibition of my work was inaugurated in the city (on 9 February). I took up photography while I was (a medical student) in college. My job (as a surgeon) is a stressful one, but when I am behind the camera, I forget everything.
Dr Kushagra Katariya
Chief cardiothoracic surgeon and CEO, Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon
Daily stress has become quite the routine in my life, so I try and take time out most days of the week to attempt to relieve it before it pours out on someone else unknowingly at the worst possible time. Getting on to the tennis or the squash court or hitting the gym are my ‘acute stress busters’. If I have some more time, the golf course is even better, although that much time is seldom available. The other advantage of knocking the ball as hard as one can on to the squash court wall is to relieve the pent-up frustration of a day’s work without causing emotional or physical trauma to someone else (most of the time). Since my two sons enjoy tennis, the time spent on the tennis court has that bonus attraction. Sometimes they have more fun seeing me getting whipped by their coach, although I do get my revenge occasionally.
Stress buster: Cardiothoracic surgeon Kushagra Katariya vents the day’s frustrations on the squash court. Pradeep Gaur / Mint
Dr Gaurav Kakkar
Consultant paediatric ophthalmologist, Venu Eye Institute, New Delhi
I beat stress by walking four days a week in winter and swimming in summer. Exercising regularly is the most important for me. I listen to music when I’m in the clinic, as fortunately my branch is not one where you have life-threatening issues. Also, I make sure I get a good night’s sleep before my surgery days.
Dr Shravan Bohra
Chief gastroenterologist, Apollo Hospitals, Ahmedabad
I have always been into regular physical activities such as running, walking, stretching exercises, playing badminton/tennis, swimming for about 45 minutes every day. These are big stress busters.
I advise my patients that since stress is a part of life, one should never overreact to the comments of people around them. One should understand (one’s) limitations and set realistic goals in life...
And most importantly, one must take a complete day off in a week and at least two weeks of holidays in a year to break the work cycle and get rid of stress.
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