Over the last 12 months, we’ve all faced extreme stress and anxiety in our lives as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for some, it has also had an impact on their general wellbeing. However, during this period, healthcare workers have faced one of the toughest challenges of their entire career, with many on the frontline having to deal with the disease head-on.
Healthcare is a sector that already causes employees to feel a sense of immense pressure without the additional impacts of the virus. At some stage, it’s important to sit, back, relax and determine how to make your life less troubling in order to take control again.
This guide looks at just a few ways you can try and keep your stress levels down as a healthcare worker and help you enjoy your career once again:
Fight Compassion Fatigue
One of the most common issues that healthcare workers face is ‘compassion fatigue’. Being a nurse, doctor or another frontline worker can be both physically and emotionally draining. Because they care so deeply for their patients and are consumed by worry for their wellbeing, it’s bound to have a knock-on effect on their own mental health. After all, it’s hard to simply switch off after your shift from having to watch a patient die.
The constant exposure to traumatic situations can set off your own personal issues and find yourself battling with emotions and potentially, depression later down the line.
To prevent long-term compassion fatigue and the damaging mental health effects that follow, it’s important to seek support either from colleagues, family or a professional therapist who will give you strategies to deal with your emotions and prevent taking those worries home with you.
Connect With Supportive People In Your Life
You may find yourself hiding away when your shift ends, simply out of exhaustion and having a low mood, however, it would be in your best interests to spend time with your loved ones when you’re not at work to give you that much-needed positive boost to battle through the most challenging shifts. In doing so, you won’t feel as though you’re ‘living to work’ and will provide more substance to your life.
Adopt Healthy Lifestyle Habits
It’s natural for healthcare workers to neglect their own needs and concentrate on the wellbeing of others, but you’ll risk suffering burnout if you fail to take care of yourself. First and foremost, ensure you get enough exercise in the great outdoors. Spending up to 12 hours on shift means you’re not exposing yourself to the Vitamin D you require to stay healthy and happy. This essential vitamin has been proven by scientists to improve your mood and give your immune system a boost to battle against illnesses. It’s also important to maintain a healthy diet in order to fuel your body for long shifts.
Think About Making Career Changes
You may be in a sector of healthcare that isn’t quite meeting your expectations or is perhaps leaving you overworked and stressed. The good news is that it’s quite easy to branch out into new sectors within healthcare by gaining the relevant qualifications. If you believe that your current role is causing you distress, it may be in your best interests to find out how to get yourself out of the situation and onto a new path.
One of the best tips would be to find new ways of re-positioning your career towards an avenue that’s more compatible for you. One option to consider would be to study a degree at Carson-Newman University. A post-master’s degree in nursing for example allows nurses to take their careers to the next level with a stress-free approach. All learning will be delivered online and you’ll be supported throughout the entirety by mentors. By taking your career into your own hands and finding different routes and methods of working, you’re far less likely to suffer from work-induced stress.
Be Aware Of Overworking Yourself
It’s natural to want to say ‘yes’ to every single favor asked of you, but have you ever considered your own needs? Sometimes, you may be agreeing to things that are far beyond what you can realistically achieve, just to please others to the point of becoming overworked. Sometimes, it’s important to take a step back and understand what you can realistically accomplish without taking on too much. Regardless of how busy you are, ensure you’re taking your allocated breaks and don’t agree to optional overtime shifts if you believe it will put you under too much pressure and cause anxiety. When you’re off shift, you should be spending these hours resting up and recharging. Failure to get the necessary amount of sleep and can cause you to suffer both physically and mentally.
Accept That It’s ‘Okay Not To Be Okay’
Sometimes, we put a brave face on just to mask our problems, but this may mean you’re left carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, as well as suffering from isolation and stress. Many people hide their suffering because they don’t want to burden others or are looking around at their colleagues who seem to be coping without difficulty. Despite this, everyone has their own personal levels of stress and are able to manage it in different ways. Feeling a sense of guilt once your limitations have peaked will only cause the issue to escalate. Understand that your feelings are genuine and whenever you’re struggling, accept that it’s time to do something about it. Only then will changes be made in your interests.
Healthcare is one of the most challenging yet rewarding industries to work in. While a little bit of stress is normal in any workplace environment, it shouldn’t be having a profound impact on your everyday life. When it’s beginning to get more intense, it’s time to do something about it and make changes. We hope this guide has given you some useful pointers to keep in mind for banishing stress as a healthcare worker.