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.

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