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Build resiliency: hospital experts give tips on managing stress

Drs. Caroline Gérin-Lajoie and Kerri Ritchie

Drs. Caroline Gérin-Lajoie and Kerri Ritchie promote resiliency to help their colleagues at The Ottawa Hospital manage the stress of working in health care.

Working in health care can be incredibly rewarding, but it’s also stressful. How can you take care of yourself so that you can take care of other people?

To help their colleagues at The Ottawa Hospital manage that stress, Drs. Caroline Gérin-Lajoie and Kerri Ritchie promote resiliency.

“A stressful day, at work or in your personal life, can leave you feeling drained and frustrated,” said Dr. Gérin-Lajoie, Psychiatrist and Medical Director for Physician Engagement, Health and Wellness. “Resiliency helps you bounce back and thrive despite adversity.”

“The secret is to practise resiliency regularly,” said Dr. Kerri Ritchie, a clinical and health psychologist who works on the Psychology Consultation Service for Inpatients. “Practising these skills every day will make it easier for you to handle emergencies and stress when they happen.”

Here are their top resiliency tips:

  1. The basics: sleep well, eat well, and exercise (as much as your schedule allows!).
  2. Be compassionate to others – and to yourself. Research has shown that compassion might stimulate the vagus nerve, which lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, and makes people feel more at ease.
  3. Gratitude. Being thankful and returning kindnesses can benefit your health. Take time to send a thank-you note, or surprise someone by paying it forward. Gratitude is contagious!
  4. Laughter triggers biological mechanisms that improve both your physical and mental health. If you’re feeling brave, Dr. Gérin-Lajoie recommends trying laughter yoga.
  5. Take time to breathe, especially during an emergency situation or a busy day. Full, deep breaths help your brain fully process information.
  6. Unplug. We constantly react to the technology around us as it beeps and vibrates for attention. Make a conscious decision when you are busy to designate specific times to check and respond to email and text messages.
  7. Restore your brain and body. When you rest, even briefly, biological mechanisms begin to restore the wear and tear your brain and body experienced during the day. Take time to do something you like every day.
  8. Positive thoughts. It’s important to acknowledge negative feelings, but spending as little as 30 seconds a day focusing on something positive or happy can change your mood. When you’re in a good mood, you’re more likely to notice the good things happening around you.
  9. Seek out awe. Feeling inspired – whether by a beautiful landscape or by an incredible person – makes you feel more connected to the people around you, and can increase your satisfaction with your life and your desire to help others. Don’t underestimate the power of goose bumps!
  10. Connect with people. Working with people you who you like and who inspire you helps you to become resilient.

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  • Joyce Schachter says:

    Awesome video! You’ve bullseyed the important points. Brava! Great job! Now to remember to do this. Thanks for this excellent and concise presentation.

  • Jocelyne McKenna says:

    Great list of tips, I especially like the fact they can all be done without leaving home, no membership required! Thanks for making it practical and real. Anyone can make these tips part of their everyday life and see positive results.

  • Nathalie Fleming says:

    How true! Thank you for taking the time to do this…

  • The Ottawa Hospital says:

    Thank you for your comments! We are glad these tips are resonating well. Take care!

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    This website gives you common facts, advice and tips. Some of it may not apply to you. Please talk to your doctor, nurse or other health-care team member to see if this information will work for you. They can also answer your questions and concerns.