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Five Ways to Deal with Stress in the Medical Field


Medicine, nursing, and healthcare support positions are widely recognized as some of the most stressful occupations in the country. Young students and new initiates are often provided with the best preparation available, but even with skilled mentoring and a long training periods, many young employees are still overwhelmed by the realities of the job. And this stress doesn’t always fade or become more manageable with time; often it just gets worse as physical symptoms go unaddressed. Here are five simple move employees and managers can use to keep stress at bay.

Take Your Own Advice

Healthcare providers often place themselves last on their list of daily priorities. Their own needs are often pushed to the wayside as they rush to keep up with patient appointments and administrative demands. But if you’re starting to notice physical and mental signs of stress build-up, imagine yourself as a patient or client. Would you advise someone in your care to ignore important symptoms and just “power through”? Of course not. Imagine the recommendation you would give to someone else, and follow through. Treat yourself with the same respect you give to others.

Listen to Your Body

As a healthcare provider, you know the symptoms of stress, but it’s not always easy or intuitive to apply this diagnosis to yourself. Are you having bad dreams? Are you experiencing mysterious aches? Are you short tempered with those around you? Pay attention to what’s happening to your body and your mind.

Address the Symptoms as Well as the Source

You’re starting to feel the effects of sleep deprivation, dehydration, or emotional fatigue. But since you know exactly why you’re feeling this way (you’re on a new night schedule, you just witnessed the loss of a patient, you’re working extra shifts, etc) you dismiss the problem and expect the symptoms to dissipate on their own. Try not to do this. If you’re experiencing a stressful event, do what’s necessary to address the issue before the symptoms get worse. Speak to a counselor, for example, or make meaningful adjustments to your sleeping habits.

Yoga, Nutrition, and Exercise

Each of these three sources of self-care (healthy food, exercise, and yoga) require one investment that can seem very costly: time. But keep this cost in perspective. Keep in mind the disproportionate benefits that can come from five extra minutes spent on a healthy breakfast, or one hour spent on a jog through the park. The return on this investment is long term, and will pay off for your patients, clients, and loved ones as well as yourself.

Hydration and Sleep

The rule above also applies to two other stress reducers that often go overlooked by healthcare providers. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink, and don’t wait until you collapse from exhaustion to sleep.

For more on how to take care of yourself so you can take care of those around you, reach out to the staffing team at SCP.

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