No one’s life is stress-free, but MDs may have the most nerve-racking job of all. (Seriously, when’s the last time you had to save a life?) Here, five calming tips from top docs with mind-body chops.
1. Breathe with intention.
I call this the quickie: Center yourself wherever you are, sitting or standing or lying down, feeling the parts of your body touching the ground…just feel that grounding with the earth. Breathe naturally at first, then after a few breaths, inhale for 4 counts while saying I am in your mind. Then exhale for 4 counts while saying at peace to yourself. Repeat this I am…at peace cycle at least 4 times or up to 2 minutes. –Aviva Romm, MD, herbalist and midwife
2. Zero in on your pressure points.
Key acupressure spots on the head, face, and hands are really close to bundles of nerves, and pressing on them can help relax the nervous system, which ramps up when we’re stressed. Try applying pressure to the meaty part of your hand between the thumb and forefinger. You could do it in a stressful meeting, on the sub-way…no one will be the wiser. –Daniel Hsu, doctor of acupuncture and Oriental medicine
3. Play that calming music.
The body’s internal rhythms entrain to the external rhythms of music, like when you go to the sea, and you start breathing slower and your heart rate slows down and starts moving closer to the rhythm and pace of the ocean. It’s the same with music, especially reggae, which I find incredibly calming. –Frank Lipman, MD, founder and director of Eleven-Eleven Wellness Center and author of The New Health Rules: Simple Changes to Achieve Whole-Body Wellness
4. Dance it out.
Research shows that romance reduces the production of stress-related hormones, and for my husband and me, dancing is very romantic. We started taking ballroom dancing lessons 9 years ago, and even when we’re just dancing around the house for a few minutes, it leaves us feeling youthful and excited. It makes the sparks fly, and that’s the opposite of stress. –Elaine Wyllie, MD, neurologist at Cleveland Clinic
5. Count your blessings.
Every night, note three things for which you’re grateful that day. They can be small, like a good cup of coffee, or big, like support from your family. Doing this has had a huge impact on my well-being, and it will on yours, too. –Gail Saltz, MD, author and associate professor of psychiatry at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell School of Medicine