Good piece on oncologist and doctor stress, and how mindfulness meditation can help cope and provide better care:
“It’s like pressing an internal pause button,” Dr. [Michael] Kearney said. “The doctor is able to recognize he’s being stressed, and it prevents him from invoking the survival defense mechanisms of fight (‘Let’s do another course of chemotherapy’), flight (‘There’s nothing more I can do for you — I’ll go get the chaplain’) and freeze (the doctor goes blank and does nothing).” Such reactions can be highly distressing to a dying patient.
When a patient asks for the impossible, like “Promise me I’m not going to die,” the mindful doctor is more likely to step back and say, “I can promise you I’ll do everything I can to help you. I’m going to continue to care for you and support you as best as I can. I’ll be back to see you later today and again tomorrow,” Dr. Kearney said.
I used similar techniques at work when in stressful situations to take a short ‘reset’ before moving on to the next issue. It also, to use Kahneman’s language, forces us into slow thinking, and being less trapped by our instincts. Others may have different mechanisms (e.g., prayer) with similar positive effects.
Helpful in a wide variety of situations.