Controlling Stress in the Healthcare Workplace

September 27, 2017

Does your nursing job have you pulling your hair out? Healthcare is an incredibly stressful field, but we’re offering up some helpful tips on how to keep your cool no matter what each shift throws your way.

Common Signs of Workplace Stress

Occasional stress is a normal part of life, but consistent and mismanaged stress can wreak havoc on your emotional, mental and physical well-being.

Watch out for these warning signs that stress is negatively affecting your daily functioning:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive issues
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Apathy
  • Loss of interest in your career
  • Social withdrawal
  • Poor concentration
  • Muscle tension or headaches
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs

What is Compassion Fatigue?

Healthcare workers and caregivers in general are prone to experiencing a condition known as compassion fatigue. Essentially, this is a specific type of stress that results from giving others your empathy to the point of overwhelming yourselfwith emotions in the process.

To combat compassion fatigue, Mother Teresa insisted that her nuns take regular breaks from their responsibilities so that they could regroup and recharge as needed.

Nurses spend so much time listening to their patients and empathizing with their situations, and this compassion is ultimately a wonderful attribute for nurses to possess and display. It’s imperative, however, that you show yourself the same kindness by scheduling routine breaks and focusing on your own needs.

Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. In fact, it’s essential to becoming the best nurse you can be.

8 Tips for Controlling Stress in the Workplace

From heavy workloads to long hours, healthcare workers are no strangers to stress. These basic tips can help you keep bad days at bay:

  1. Identify your personal triggers.

Take some time to reflect on your work history and the things that have caused you the most stress and anxiety. Do you get flustered when your daily schedule is thrown out of whack, or do you love an always-changing routine? Do frustrated patients make you nervous, or do you enjoy helping them solve their problems?

Consider what aspects of your job you enjoy most — and which ones give you serious grief. Once you know your triggers, you can take steps to better handle them in the future.

  1. Communicate with your colleagues.

Communication is a key part of healthcare, and it’s important to have a strong relationship with your co-workers that is built upon openness and trust. Seek out a mentor on the job who can offer insight on stressful situations, and let your colleagues know when you need an extra hand. Otherwise, you’ll end up taking on too much — and that’s the fastest path to burnout.

  1. Schedule regular timeouts.

As a nurse, you’re incredibly busy. But you need to take regular breaks throughout the day to prevent feeling overwhelmed. Make it a habit to take your entitled breaks, and fuel your body with healthy snacks that keep you satisfied.

  1. Approach problems logically.

When you’re having a stressful day, it’s so easy to let emotions get the best of you. Take a breather, and look at things from an outsider’s perspective. Should you take the situation personally? Does it define you? Will it matter in ten years? Chances are, the answer is no.

  1. Get organized.

Time management is essential to facing the day ahead with as little stress as possible, so take every step to ensure that you have everything you need for a smooth shift. Stay on top of your paperwork, even if it means staying a little longer to get everything completed as needed. Always follow through with patients’ requests, and don’t procrastinate.

  1. Reflect on the day.

Stress tends to build up slowly over time, which can lead to a major blowup over something that seems minor on the surface. Make it a point to address daily issues as they come up rather than pushing them off to the side.

  1. Find what soothes you.

What makes you happy? Is it relaxing in a hot bath, reading a new book, crafting or enjoying a night out with friends? Whatever makes you smile, make time for it! These activities keep you calm and help you manage stress more productively.

  1. Turn negatives into positives.

No matter how well you manage the steps outlined above, you’re going to have some occasional bad days — that’s only human. Accept that you’ll make mistakes, forget to do something on your to-do list or find yourself feeling overworked and quite possibly unappreciated.

Whatever hurdles you encounter along the way, use them as learning opportunities to do better tomorrow. These life lessons only make you stronger, and looking at them in a positive light helps eliminate undue stress.

How do you manage stress in the workplace? Let us know in the comments!

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