Jul 17, 2023

Reduce stress by doing things you love

No one is immune to stress – whether it’s your career, relationships, parenting, or other challenges, everyone faces stressful circumstances from time to time. It’s how we choose to manage the stress that is key to our health and happiness. Raising six boys and running a family medical practice is not for the faint of heart, but I have been fortunate to find activities that help me feel relaxed and refreshed, and I encourage my patients to do the same.

I am a devoted lifelong learner, and acquiring new knowledge helps me significantly in relieving stress. Whether I am reading medical journals, listening to podcasts, or attending seminars, I find that learning leads to personal growth. I have known the effectiveness of this in my own life for many years, but I was pleased to see a recent study in the Harvard Business Review bear out my experience: in a study of more than 300 employees from different workplaces and industries, the people who engaged in more learning activities at work experienced fewer negative stress-related emotions, and the learning activities were an even more effective stress buffer than relaxing by non-learning activities.

Playing sports, especially tennis, is also one of my top stress relievers. Your body releases hormones when you exercise which boost your mood and help battle depression, stress, or anxiety you may be experiencing. I attended the University of Notre Dame on a tennis scholarship, and balancing athletics with my studies taught me the value of time management. It also gave me a place to blow off steam after a long day of studying or during the anxious days of preparing for medical school.

If you exercise with family or friends, this also serves as a positive opportunity to socialize and spend quality time with the ones you love. For instance, by biking to school with my children each morning, we swap the stress of sitting in traffic with the joy of fresh air, quality time and a dose of endorphins.

Speaking of biking to school, spending quality time with my family is also one of the most significant ways I relax in my life. I learned the value of a strong support network growing up, with seven brothers and sisters, there was always someone to play with or talk through problems. Today, quality time with my wife and kids helps me focus on what is really important.

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