Whatever gets you through the day
Thank you to experienced clinicians TMB and JEL for their comments on our latest post on humor in the workplace. I'm with them on dark humor for sure; it can be therapeutic and funny! But I do worry that humor directed specifically at patients (e.g., the name-calling cited by Dr. Michael Kahn in his New York Times article) corrodes our ability to care and is discernible to the “whales” and “borderlines” in question.
A small but interesting recent study in BMC Health Services Research evaluates a variety of physicians' self-reported coping strategies for work-related stress, humor among them. While humor was associated with lower frequency of burnout, at-home coping methods like exercise, leaving work at work, and talking through stress with a spouse were more powerful psychological bolsterers.
How do you cope with stress at work? Is the dark humor of TMB and JEL your best defense? Or do you prefer time-outs (e.g., walks) as the Canadian researchers suggest? How about comfort foods? Exercise? Talking with co-workers? Therapy? Cigarettes? Your colleagues are eager to hear your successful — and not-so-successful — coping strategies.