Jul 23, 2019

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How an ER Doc Deals with Stress

As an ER doctor, Troy has a very stressful job. The type of stress that can be overwhelming at times. The type of stress that follows him home. He's had to learn the hard way to manage his stress.

Troy takes his stress on in two major ways. First, he breaks down big tasks into small, more easily managed chunks, then takes them on one at a time. Secondly, he finds time every day to meditate on the problem facing him. He thinks through whatever is bothering him during his daily runs.

Tips for Dealing with Stress from a Pro

There are plenty of strategies to deal with stress, but Troy and Scot wanted to hear from a professional in stress management. Nick Galli is a health coach and professor of health kinesiology at the University of Utah. He works with elite athletes, but he assures us his advice can work for anyone.

One of the first things to consider is that doing anything out of the ordinary can be stressful in its own right. So whatever activity you use to destress should be kept close to what you enjoy doing already. Nick's stress relieving activities include working out, reading books, and watching Netflix. He builds at least an hour into his day to make sure he does something he enjoys and let go of some anxiety.

Each of us are dealing with our own unique stressors. As such, the best strategies for stress management are individualized. But there are some general strategies that can help.

Be Kind to Yourself

It can be easy to be hard on yourself when you make a mistake. Your inner monologue can get nasty fast. The things you say to yourself can be so negative you'd never feel comfortable saying them aloud, let alone to another person.

Nick urges everyone to practice self compassion and be mindful of how you treat yourself when things get rough. Keep in mind some of the following things to help you be a supportive force for yourself:

  • You are not alone. Millions of people in the world are dealing with similar or worse problems. It's life.

  • Be productive with self-talk. Have good conversations with yourself. Talk through the problem. Explore solutions. Tearing yourself down doesn't help.

  • Talk to yourself like you'd speak to others. If a friend or loved one came to you with a problem, you wouldn't immediately get down on them. Treat yourself and your problems with the same support you'd give others.

In addition to treating yourself supportively, other stress management strategies include:

  • Talk to someone about it
  • Write a daily journal about what's going on
  • Designate 5-10 minutes a day of "worrying time" to honor your anxiety, but in a structured way that doesn't derail your day

Be Present. Be Mindful.

Nick explains that mindfulness is one of the most important skills to develop to be able to manage stress. For Nick, mindfulness has two key characteristics we all should work on.

First, being mindful means being present. Not only physically in the moment, but mentally and emotionally. So much of a person's stress is either about things that have happened in the past, or being anxious about things in the future. Worrying about bad things that may never happen keeps you from living in the present and enjoying life.

The second, more difficult part, is to be present in a non judgemental way. We are very good at judging ourselves. Being mindful means to judge your own thoughts in a more neutral way. Remove the judgement from what you're thinking and doing. This neutrality can help you figure out what is causing your emotions and what to do with them.

Nick suggests narrating your own life to practice mindfulness. Pretend you're Morgan Freeman and describe your actions and feelings aloud as you go about your day. It may seem ridiculous, but for many of Nick's patients it's a great exercise to start exploring your own mindfulness.


Could Your Smart Speaker Save You During A Heart Attack?

If you own an Amazon Echo, you may sometimes get the feeling it's listening to everything you say, all the time. Well a new experimental tool may use that always listening feature to save your life.

According to an article from STAT news, a new feature is in development to allow the Echo smart speaker to listen for and identify agonal breathing. This type of struggled breathing, with long pauses, is one of the big signs that someone's heart has stopped beating and they may be going into cardiac arrest.

Time is of the essence with a heart attack. The idea of a device that can detect the emergency and get help fast is great, but does it really work?

Troy is suspicious after looking at the data. Yes, the device has been shown to detect agonal breathing, but the study only looked at 35 households. Of the 200,000 clips analyzed, the device had a 0.2% false positive rate. That may seem small at first glance, but in actuality, that meant the device incorrectly reported that someone was going into cardiac arrest 400 times. That's a big error for a device that would be calling an EMT to your home to save your life.

The technology has some serious potential to save a lot of lives, but it's not there just yet.


ER or Not: Bit By a Rattlesnake

Say you're out hiking in the wilderness and mistakenly step a little too close to a rattlesnake. It strikes out and bites you. Should you go to the ER?

Yes. Simple answer. If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, seek help immediately.

The problem with rattlesnake bites is that a majority of them are "dry bites," which mean the snake released no venom. Unfortunately, you won't know if it was dry or not until the symptoms of the venom start. And by the time those symptoms start, you may be in a serious life threatening situation.

In other words, go to the ER with any rattlesnake bite. Symptoms can take 30 minutes to a few hours to appear depending on your physiology, the amount of venom injected, and the location of the bit.

If you find yourself far from help while bit, stay calm and get to help as quickly and efficiently as possible. And under no circumstances should you do the following:

  • Do not cut the bite
  • Do not attempt to suck the venom out
  • Do not put a tourniquet on the bite

These common first aid tips will actually make the situation much worse.

Stay as calm as you can and seek help fast.


Just Going to Leave This Here

On this episode's Just Going to Leave This Here, Troy has been scrolling on Zillow and dreaming about a bigger home, even though studies have shown a larger house doesn't make you any happier. And Scot shares a video of his new pet - Reginald Rat Pants - a rat that has been eating his protein powder.


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