Ironically, jobs devoted to improving the well-being of others can be extremely stress-inducing. The health care industry requires excellent problem-solving skills, a deep level of sensitivity towards other people’s needs and high levels of attention dedicated towards time management. This begs the question, how does someone eliminate stress in the health care sector without sacrificing the quality of the work performed?
What can healthcare workers do to manage their stress?
A positive outlook can go a long way to ensuring a good level of mental health. Make a habit of remembering why you choose to work in health care, in particular the things you are grateful for. Some people find it helpful to make a list of these reasons and revisit it whenever they are stressed. This helps put things into perspective whenever your workload feels impossible.
Don't compromise... PRIORITISE what you need to do
Tackle the most important tasks first, prioritising these at a set time each day. Where possible, avoid getting into a routine of working overtime on a daily basis. Even if you cannot finish everything during your shift, try and take a break away from work. Consistently working longer than required only serves to increase stress levels. Managing stress is key to efficiency at work. In a job where people are reliant on you for the simplest of tasks, stress can make even the most effective care worker less productive over time.
Do things you enjoy
Make a point of doing activities you love on certain days of the week. Start a new hobby or arrange time away with family and/or friends. This will help ensure you get into a pattern of working less overtime, keeping you energised and refreshed in advance of your next shift.
Recognise the warning signs of stress
Be mindful of the signs of stress in the working lives of yourself and your colleagues. Classic symptoms include:
- Inability to concentrate
- Constantly worrying
- Inability to relax
- Eating too much
- Eating too little
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Dramatic changes in mood
- Feeling restless or easily agitated
Take care of your health
- Monitor the food you eat
- Exercise at least three times per week (ideally daily)
- Stay clear of addictive substances such as alcohol, nicotine, coffee
- Make sure you get enough sleep
- Keep things in perspective – learn to laugh and relax
- Arrange and prioritise your daily tasks
Take control of your emotions
If you think “I can’t do this”, then you are unlikely to do so. Accept what you can’t change so that you don’t get frustrated or worry too much about what may happen. Instead, recognise that you cannot change them and focus your attention on areas where you can influence change by managing stress.
Connect with your colleagues
Working in care can be lonely if you let it become the sole focus of your life. Sharing burdens with other care workers is a great way to overcome problems. Likewise, spending time with them outside of work can help you realise that you are not alone. You may find you aren’t the only one suffering from stress and your colleague may have suggestions that help you cope better in the future.
- Take a breath. Relax!
- Take control. Accept what you can't change
- Connect with others
Healthcare workers can learn more about stress and how it affects them and others in the care industry by completing Stress Awareness training. Flexebee also offers a selection of Mental Health training courses, ideal for anyone working in the care sector.