​What’s The Secret To Minimising GP Stress?

​Doctors are immune to health problems, aren’t they? At least that’s how it can look from the outside. It can be easy for the public to forget that doctors are people too, and illness can strike them just as easily as their patients. Mental illness can be invisible, however. Left untreated, stress and poor emotional health can lead to time away from work and long-term health problems. Finding ways of minimising GP stress is key to achieving a healthy work-life balance, but is this really possible?

Stress and GPs

Stress is a common occurrence among GPs, with many in the profession finding it difficult to keep up with high-pressure work environments, heavy workloads and too few resources. The stress epidemic has led many GPs towards working part-time, with the newest intakes of trainee doctors already anticipating that they will not work full-time once they qualify.

It’s easy to see how stress can take hold of GPs. Ever-increasing workloads, a lack of funding in primary care and greater demands from patients make it difficult for doctors to feel like they’re doing a good job, with 2 in 5 GPs looking to quit within the next five years.

Patients can be a significant part of the problem, from being abusive and threatening to making complaints. Investigations into these matters can cause some serious distress and anxiety for GPs.

It’s been reported that many doctors hide their illness out of fear of losing their jobs or damaging their reputations, but the consequences of hiding mental illness can result in addiction, lapses in judgement and even unintentional harm to patients if left unchecked. While there are solutions for getting GPs and other doctors the help they need, minimising GP stress is an important preventative measure.

Minimising GP stress

As a GP, you’ll often advise patients on minimising stress, but how much of your own advice do you follow? Some key tips for reducing GP stress include:

Stay active

It’s not easy to stay active when you’re working all hours under the sun, but daily exercise can provide you with a good boost for your mental health and help you regain some balance. A lunchtime walk can be a good way to clear your head, and regular workouts will help to keep your body and mind healthy.

Find new ways of working

While GPs often work more hours than they should, finding a good working pattern can help you get more done during your regular hours so that you can feel on top of things. Whether you need to change the order of some of your tasks or start delegating more, finding new ways of working can help make your job feel more manageable.

Switch off when you’re at home

It’s easy to take your work home with you, especially if you feel as though you’re never quite ‘done’. However, relaxation time is important, and you should look to switch off from work when you’re away by making time for your personal life and hobbies. Be fair to your body and mind, as they need time to catch up after a demanding day.

Take control and seek help

Sometimes, minimising GP stress means taking control of the situation and asking for help. Talking to a professional about your emotional health sets a good example to your patients and will make you more productive and effective at work. The NHS Practitioner Health Programme is a great resource for medical staff suffering with stress. Here, you can seek the help you need without embarrassment or shame.

Of course, another way to minimise GP stress is to change your working hours and environment. Out of hours working can be a good solution for managing stress, so it’s worth considering if you want to work more flexibly. To find out more about working out-of-hours, including vacant posts for out of hours doctors in East Berkshire, contact us today.