Stress is a problem that affects people in all walks of life, and it’s an increasingly common cause of health conditions all across the world. Because working in health care is by its nature often a stressful environment, health care staff are particularly prone to developing chronic stress. If stress isn’t managed and controlled, it can lead to serious health problems, and inevitably workers suffer reductions in their performance levels and face the prospect of being absent from work. How can the people who care for those afflicted with chronic stress avoid falling victim to it themselves?
1. Addressing concerns
If stress is affecting your life, it’s important to recognize it and take action to prevent it from getting any worse. The first question you should ask yourself is what is causing your stress? Are there any factors in your life that you could manage better, or resolve by taking action? Work pressures are a frequent cause of stress, so if your job is putting you under pressure, it’s important to acknowledge the fact and see how you could address the issues. Talk to your supervisor, and take advantage of any occupational health benefits such as counseling services.
2. Taking care of yourself
It’s ironic that in an industry where staff spends so much time advising people how to live healthier lives, many workers fail to follow their own advice. You could be spending a significant part of your day on preventive medicine and promoting healthier lifestyles, only to arrive home after your shift exhausted, and have a takeaway and a couple of glasses of wine.
You need to set an example and follow the advice you give others. Poor habits like unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, and relying on stimulants all take their toll on your body and leave you vulnerable to the effects of stress. Try to make the same changes in your own life that you recommend to others, as a healthier, fitter body is more able to cope with life’s stresses.
3. Take time off
You don’t need to travel far to feel the benefits of a vacation, and if you don’t like the idea of spending a week sunbathing on a beach, there are plenty of more active vacations available. You could consider a volunteering break, which is something that often appeals to health care workers. Choose a project close to your heart and spend your vacation helping with a community or environmental venture. You can even arrange home stays, where you live with a local family for the duration of the holiday, allowing you to experience a new culture first-hand and appreciate the simple pleasures of life.
To minimize the effects of stress you need to get away from your job now and then, so make sure you have a proper break from work where you can pursue your hobbies, meet up with friends, or relax and kick back at home. Vacation time is a valuable opportunity to rid yourself of stress, so don’t waste your leave or work through it. Look after yourself, so you are better able to care for those who are relying on you.