Manage That Stress Level
Most health care professions are very stressful, especially those that involve direct patient care. Even those of you who may not ever have direct patient contact will most likely have a high degree of stress involved. Health care is a demanding field where precision and accuracy are essential. In most instances success depends on timeliness as well. Most health care workers are overachievers and often perfectionists by nature. These two factor spell stress on their own.
Stress is practically unavoidable in a health care profession due to the physical and emotional demands. When stress is not managed appropriately it can lead to burnout and is a major contributor to health care workers' leaving the field.
Health care often revolves around life-and-death issues. Even when it doesn't, the temptation to become lax or complacent must always be resisted. There is not room for mediocrity in health care. There are many fine skills to be developed by practitioners, and some will naturally be far better at them than others, but everyone must always strive to do the very best job they can. Everyone who works in health care has to put forth their best effort every day, including those in ancillary positions.
All of this adds up to stress, and in order to function at your best, you must be able to manage your stress. It is important to slow down and take stock of things. Your life can get to a point where it is so filled with drama that every little issue can become a crisis. You have to learn to not sweat the small stuff, and to put your efforts into the important matters. To do that, you will have to be able to distinguish between them.
Refer back to Chapter 4 about learning to manage your stress during your education process. Laughter can be one of the most successful tools for breaking the stress barrier. Sometimes just taking a moment to think of something funny, or even just something that makes you smile, will ease the tension and bring a sense of renewal.
Deep breathing, counting to ten (or backwards from ten to one), and closing your eyes and centering yourself for a moment to remember why you chose this profession will all help to release your body's hold on the stress.
In a health care setting, something usually needs to be done yesterday. The word stat may become part of your everyday vocabulary. This comes from the Latin word statim, and means “immediately.” In medical terminology it takes on the added implication of “immediately, if not sooner.”
For more long-term stress management you need to find ways to get away from all of your stressors. Turn off the cell phone! Regular exercise is one of the best ways to burn off steam and take you away from all that stresses you. Grab your MP3 player. Take a walk or a jog. Ride a bike.
You might prefer to find a quiet place and turn down the lights, listen to some soothing music, and reduce the stimuli. Have a massage. Practice yoga or self-hypnosis. Read a book for pleasure. Listen to books on CD or a podcast while traveling to and from work. Go to the movies and lose yourself in the story. Watch some television that is purely silly and noneducational. Devote at least twenty to thirty minutes each day to uninterrupted relaxation and stress management.