How do you deal with stress and lower stress to stay healthy and alive?

Hello Everyone,

This question is to anyone esp. med students and doctors. I’m trying to figure out how everyone deals with the stress of medical school and residency, etc without basically ‘kicking the bucket’…my worries are about the long term health effects of stress, the raised cortisol levels that can damage blood vessels, etc etc etc. As some of you know I have bipolar type II disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. It is tough at times but things are getting better as the years go by as I am very proactive with my medication and with learning non-medication related strategies to manage my illness. I was reading an article in the American Journal of Psychiatry that was first quoted in a book on managing bipolar disorder and it basically stopped me in my tracks and scared the daylights out of me. It said that untreated or poorly managed bipolar disorder can actually lead to permanent brain damage and destruction of neurons…but the medications have been thought to be neuroprotective. Now I haven’t done a huge amount of reading on this because it really hit me hard. And I don’t beleive everything I read until I back it up with reputable sources. But it mentioned also the increased cortisol levels and high risk of heart disease, stroke, death, etc. This may take me away from the pre-med track because I am worried about long term health effects. does anyone have any thoughts or supporting or contradicting evidence? How stressful is medical school? Residency? practicing? Is it constant stress or burst of stress like in an emergency? Thanks so much! I hope I made sense, typing fast cuz I have to leave for work now! Meg

You know how I deal w/ the stress? I laugh. I weave it into a grand tale that makes everyone laugh around me. Maybe inappropriate when your baby’s O2 sat is at 94% and you’re worried, but it’s how I deal. Then when I’m alone, I cry and get it out of my system.

We have a paramedic on our crew that deals by singing. You can bet your ass if someone is coding, she’s pumping their chest singing whateer pops in her head.

I also have my best friend I can call at any hour to complain. I return the favor when she needs it.

I’m not in med school yet, but I’ve learned the hard way wallowing in the despair only makes it last longer.

And when all else fails and I’m overwhelmed and exhausted, I turn out the lights and sleep.

Performing chest compressions to ‘Stayin Alive’ is the first thing that went through my head when I read Susan’s response.

Meg, I wouldn’t get too wound up about the stress before you even start. A lot of people would scare themselves out of any type of journey (medicine or not) if they focused on all the work and stress involved.

She’s actually sung that Hugz lol. And “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane.”

ANY job or life situation can be stressful. Doctors definitely don’t have a corner on this market. In my view, a dead-end job that doesn’t provide much if any intellectual stimulation would be far, far more stressful than my ridiculously stressful day. Hell, life is stressful. I think this is a false choice, Avery. Do what you want to do and figure out how to deal with the stress in whatever it is you’re doing.


I actually learned to do chest compressions to “Another One Bites the Dust”-- yes, they actually played it in our class. So that is what goes through my head when I am doing compressions!!

But back to the original question. For me, I learned through various trials of working out and not working out, that I am a complete grump if I don’t workout. When I was the senior resident on the stroke team last year and I had to be at work at 5:30am, I still got up at 3:30am to work out (then I would be in bed around 8pm). Without the work-out, I dragged more and was overall more grumpy.

How about Pearl Jam’s ALIVE? Little more optimistic than Leaving on a Jetplane…LOL…good thread.

I’m with Tara on the working out, and with Susan on the inappropriate laughing. I’ve never actually burst into song but songs have popped into my head randomly because of certain situations, now that I know other people have the courage to spontaneously sing I may try that as a stress reliever…but seriously stress is everywhere. Maybe pre-med students just seem like they are more stressed about it because we have the added pressure of medical school after, but in all jobs there is stress.

I agree with Mary that I’d be far more stressed to think I’d be stuck in my current job forever than to be a doing what I really want to do. I think physical activity is the best way to release stress, so I run, I had actually stopped for a long time and now that I’ve started back up it’s amazing and I wonder why I ever stopped! I feel so much better and able to deal with things.

For me, stress relief comes in simple OMT techniques I can use on myself, such as cervical stretching and facial effleurage. Always feel better afterwards.

I had to laugh at your signature!

Cats: 4…check!

Old: 34…check!

Lady: Female, undisputed…check!

Crazy: Pre-med at my ripe age…check!

Officially a Crazy Old Cat Lady!

I can say the same about me…but I have 10 years on you!

Actually, they are my stress relievers…having my little Dixie on my lap just stroking her soft fur lowers my stress level, especially if I a upset.

Thanks everyone for your responses! Meg tends to let a little drama in her head now and then and think way to much. Yes, Kriss cats are fantastic! They are great little stress relievers and definitely the BEST support group when I have my bad days. I know I just need to figure out what is best for me and I know that only I can do it. Thanks again!


I know what you mean by over thinking…now it is time for action!

This is definitely what I need. Need to go find me a dollar.

Don’t worry, Meg. We all need that once in a while!