Combating Workplace Stress

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A career in healthcare takes a lot of training, experience, compassion and interpersonal skills.  Healthcare professionals have to be sympathetic but maintain a distance, not getting too wrapped up in the personal life of their patients. 

People with medical conditions, injuries, or just the difficulties associated with old age have to deal with a lot of stress.  Add the stress healthcare professionals deal with in a fast-paced, life-or-death atmosphere on the job.   Just like any others, they have families, job pressures, home and family responsibilities. 

Stress isn’t a visible condition like obesity or a broken leg, but according to a Forbes article, stress is the number one workplace issue.  Work life balance, workloads, job security and issues between co-workers and boss are the four most difficult stressors.  In a struggling economy, job security may take first place in stressors.  Even in healthcare, which has been one of the most recession-proof industries, the changes in healthcare legislation, Obamacare, and advances in medical technology have made healthcare another career path at risk.

These stressors exist in every profession.  They are tolerated as a normal part of the job, but there comes a point at which individuals can decide not to tolerate them and their consequences any more.  The article lists ten stressful situations that don’t have to be tolerated at all.

True burnout can be debilitating, but it comes in stages.  Long hours, dealing with critically ill patients, demanding physicians and a fast-paced working environment can cause burnout.  The trick is to recognize the causes and make changes in your work schedules, toleration levels, and emotional attachment to the job.  Compound burnout with inaction or the inability to make changes, and you’ve got a double dose of stress. 

Negativity, disorganization and living in cluttered surroundings can be stressful.  Just cleaning out messy drawers or closets and cleaning house can release stress.  When your environment is orderly, your mind can function better. 

With the constant barrage of advertising coming from TV, online and even your phone, it’s impossible to escape some company’s advertising telling you what you need to be happy and successful.  Keeping up with the Joneses is a treadmill.  There will always be someone who has more than you or is more successful.  A healthcare career takes a lot of time, and trying to keep up with a busy schedule and create the perfect home with perfect furnishings, a perfect partner and perfect children takes its toll.  Decide what your perfect life consists of and leave the rest behind.

Perfectionism and procrastination are the evil twins of stress.  The truth is, there is no perfect anything.  Trying to reach the unattainable can be the most stressful of all.  The constant pursuit of perfection can cause doubt and procrastination.  It’s the fear of making a mistake and not being perfect that increases stress.  Healthcare professionals know that mistakes can be life-threatening.  This type of stress can be paralyzing.

The key to reducing stress is first awareness and then setting limits.  Working at a job you dislike is stressful, but leaving a job with a steady paycheck and benefits can be even worse.  Keep the job and look at ways of reducing other areas of stress in your life. Instead of taking on the cares of the world, your patients, a demanding doctor or boss, decide how much stress you will tolerate and let the rest go. 


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