It would be nice to have a world where going to work was always a great experience: co-workers were always eager to lend a helping hand, and patients smiled and said thank you. While that may happen some of the time, it’s unlikely that everyday working in healthcare is blissful. In fact, in can be very stressful.
Not only can the hours be long, but difficult patients, demanding family members and watchful supervisors can make anyone a little frazzled occasionally. In addition, you may have to deal with inadequate staffing and endless paperwork. Add to the mix the fact you may have to cope with life and death situations, and it’s no wonder working in healthcare can get stressful.
Stress can build and lead to problems, such as frustration, depression, anxiety and job burnout. Learning ways to cope with stress is essential in order to have a long healthcare career.
On the job
Prioritize tasks and ask for help if you need it. If you are dealing with inadequate staffing it can be overwhelming. Take breaks when you can. Even a five minute break to take some deep breaths and get fresh air can help you gain perspective. Focus on your accomplishments on the job, not what tasks were left undone. Although it is not always easy, try to find the humor in a situation. Laughter is one of the best stress reducers.
Don’t plan every minute of your life. Between work, relationships, chores, and even social activities, your calendar can become packed with things to do. Allow yourself some downtime where you have nothing planned. Sometimes you just need to chill out and relax. That may mean reading, going for a walk, or just sitting and listening to music.
Exercise can also help. Many mental health experts recommend getting regular exercise to help lower stress levels. Whether you go running, play tennis or go for a brisk walk, exercise can help improve mood, and lower tension. In addition, consider practicing stress relievers, such as yoga or meditation. Research has shown both can make you feel more relaxed, which improves over well-being.
One of the best ways to cope with any type of stress including work stress is to spend time with people you care about, such as family and friends. Nurture relationships, have fun together, and lean on loved ones for support when you need it.
Even if you use the above techniques to reduce stress, you may still find it difficult to handle certain times in your life. Don’t hesitate to get professional help. Your employer may be a good place to start. Some healthcare facilities have employee assistance programs, which offer counseling to employees going through a difficult time. You can also seek a referral from your doctor in order to see a therapist or counselor.
Stress is a part of life and unavoidable. A little stress may not be a problem, but when levels get too high, stress can interfere with your health, relationships and ability to perform your job well. Finding ways to deal with stress will not only help you function better on the job, but it will improve your overall quality of life.