In Celebration of National Stress Awareness Day

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There are two times when human beings are universally at their worst: 1) When they are traveling and 2) when they are sick.  We’d like to give a shout out if you work at an airport health clinic, as it seems you work with patients that are really at their worst! A recent survey found that 69% of health care workers, the highest of any other industry, reported experiencing stress in their current job and 17% reporting “high levels” of stress, a finding that surprised… absolutely no one.

Whether it’s a medical office, hospital, in-patient facility, or in-home health care, life in scrubs is stressful!  The schedule is demanding, the workload is demanding and the patients are demanding.  (Sure I’ll change the TV channel for you.  Why else would we have a nurse call button?)

Burn out is a real threat, and it can affect not only the health care professional’s wellbeing, but also patient care and safety. Therefore, stress management is an essential component of life in scrubs.

Many folks chose to work in health care because they have a passion for taking care of others.  It’s what drives them to get up every day.  It makes the incessant call button pushing and the craziness worth it.  And it’s really easy to forget about you in the shuffle.  Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do.  You can’t take care of others if you aren’t in a good place.  That’s easy to say, but what does taking care of you really look like?

Maintain a healthy lifestyle balance

Grabbing something from the vending machine or cafeteria may seem like it’ll relieve the stress of a busy shift.  But taking the time to eat a healthy meal can make a huge difference, especially over the long haul.   The same goes for exercising.  The gym or your running shoes may be the last thing you want to think about after working on your feet all day, but experts agree that regular exercise is one of the best ways to beat stress.

Maintain a healthy work/life balance

As hard as it is for passionate, caring folks to implement, the best thing you can do for yourself may involve the word “no”.  Really think before you agree to take on that extra… whatever.  Be it work related or personal.  Sometimes exactly what we need is an outside connection, but do you really have the time and energy to bake those cupcakes for the charity bake sale?  Will that extra shift make you too tired to perform at your best?  A pedicure may in fact be the best thing you can do for yourself and your patients.  You can’t take care of anyone if you are pushed to your limit.

Maintain a healthy emotional balance

Compassion and empathy are two hallmark traits of those in the healthcare profession.  But it’s important to remember that emotional boundaries are vital to your well-being.  This can be especially challenging for those working with patients with terminal illnesses and can lead to a specific type of stress called Compassion Fatigue.  It’s hard to create and defend an emotional boundary, and may even feel callous at times, but you cannot assist an emotionally overwhelmed patient or caregiver if you yourself are emotionally overwhelmed.  The best thing you can do for your patients is to stay in a healthy place so that you can help them more effectively.

Are these stress management techniques hard in the real world?  Do they take planning and commitment?  Absolutely!   Are you going to be perfect at them every day?  Definitely not!  But life is a work in progress.  Every healthy choice you make today is one to celebrate.  Happy National Stress Awareness Day from Tafford Uniforms.

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