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Advice by Bruce Rabin, M.D., Ph.D on how to reduce stress at workplace

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According to Bruce Rabin, M.D., Ph.D., "stress results when something that happens to you or something that you observe exceeds the capability of your mind to deal with the event effectively." Dr. Rabin, who is a professor of pathology and psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh and the medical director of the Healthy Lifestyle Program for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) health system, added that people have difficulty focusing and remembering things when they get stressed out.

Other medical conditions can follow, such as a fast heart rate or an increase in blood pressure. These symptoms are not healthy in any workplace, especially in a legal office. Rabin said, though, that "the negative effect of stress can be minimized with the development of 'buffering skills.'"



"Buffering skills help make the brain react less to stress. This means that the brain will release less stress hormones, which damage your health. People who incorporate buffering skills into their lives will see less stress-related negative effects on their health," Dr. Rabin explained. He also said that you "can learn 'buffering skills' to minimize the activation of the stress-reactive areas of the brain."

Dr. Rabin offered to share his tips with us. His main buffers are below, and he also discusses how to reduce stress levels:

  • Have a social support system that you enjoy and can depend upon.
  • Be optimistic that things will go well for you and that problems that occur will not alter your basic belief that you are a good and well-liked person.
  • Have a sense of humor so that you can find amusement in events and can even laugh at yourself.
  • Be physically fit as appropriate for your age rather than being sedentary.
  • Have a belief system in religion, or have a spiritual nature that allows you to relax and calm yourself when faced with stress.
Some good ways to reduce stress include:

  • spending time with friends
  • going for a walk
  • laughing
  • trying to see the glass as half full so that you know you will be able to handle whatever is causing your stress
  • participating in activities that have meaning to you, such as religious or spiritual activities
  • practicing deep breathing
  • listening to guided imageries
  • practicing meditation
  • writing about what bothers you
Techniques to calm your mind and improve the quality of your mental and physical health when experiencing an acute stress (one that is unanticipated, has sudden onset, and has short duration):

  • deep breathing
  • thinking of funny things
  • chanting
Techniques to help you cope with chronic stress that will improve the quality of your mental and physical health (the stress of daily life events):

  • writing
  • guided imagery
  • meditation
Dr. Rabin emphasized that some stress factors can be avoided but that most need to be recognized and dealt with.

"Divorce, losing one's job, an angry employer, children that get into trouble, caring for a relative with a serious disease, [and] preparing for an exam at school are all examples of stresses that cannot be avoided," he explained.

He also mentioned that we need to examine ourselves and how we react to stress in our individual lives.

"We may then turn to the healthcare establishment to take care of us. However, if we are to be more responsible for the quality of our own health by eating a healthy diet, managing our weight, exercising, and not smoking, we need to also be aware of how we cope with stress."

Dr. Rabin can be reached at hlp@upmc.edu.




University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

    

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