3 Proven Ways to Combat Job Stress
It’s said that a little stress in the workplace helps to keep us motivated and determined to achieve good results. However, for some professions, excessive levels of stress are a common part of the job—with the health care industry standing out from many others.
According to a study by the American Medical Association1, physicians and nurses lead the pack of professionals who are most prone to job stress and suffering from job burnout. A report published on amednews.com reveals that of the more than 7,000 physicians surveyed, over 45% reported experiencing at least one of the symptoms that are considered serious burnout, including emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and diminished personal accomplishment. If nearly half our treating physicians are experiencing similar conditions, this does not bode well for the public at large.
What’s the cause?
Today’s doctors are burdened with crushing workloads and high patient expectations. Doctors are often held to a standard of perfection, which requires a high level of physician-patient interaction in addition to technical precision. Yet doctors find themselves disappointed by the lack of time they have available to spend with each individual patient. Long working hours lead to physical and mental exhaustion and can take a toll on job performance. In addition to the many decisions to be made and procedures to be done day in and day out—sometimes with life-or-death ramifications—there are other sorts of job requirements that increase stress. It can be stressful just staying current with the latest studies, advancements in technologies and therapies, not to mention managing the many administrative headaches associated with patient care.
The AMA further reports that burnout among primary care physicians has reached an alarming level. And with many doctors leaving the profession or retiring early, patients may be left stranded without the care of a physician who knows their history. Worse, physicians under serious stress are statistically more likely to make errors in the care they provide, or self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. It can be a scary situation, especially for patients, who have no way of knowing what’s going on.
De-stress for success
There are many proven ways to reduce stress in any situation, from exercising to making to-do lists to simply laughing. Some techniques require time; others require a change in mindset. For health care professionals, combating stress works best with the combination of a workplace that’s proactive about managing potential burnout, paired with personal efforts to help maintain an optimal level of resilience. Of the numerous stress-reducing strategies one can try, these three are perhaps the most beneficial ways to combat job stress:
1. Work-life balance must be a priority.
The most stressed professionals typically work the longest hours and have the most demands on the job, leaving less time for personal life enjoyment. Striking an agreeable work-life balance may be difficult to do, but that is all the more reason it must be a priority. When overly-taxed workers are given adequate time away from the job to spend time with family, take vacations, and focus on their personal well-being and interests, they’re able to return to their work with a sense of balance and resolve. Stress is easier to manage when people take time to recharge.
2. Quick meditation has immediate benefits.
Taking a 5-minute (or even a two-and-a-half minute) break to practice deep breathing or peaceful visualization in a quiet space will help restore balance and focus, even during a highly stressful situation. Listening to music also has an inspiring, mood-lifting effect, regardless of the genre, as long as it’s something that you enjoy.
3. A healthy diet and sleep are crucial.
How your body functions is directly correlated to the food you consume. Eating poorly—and always in a rush—can wreak havoc on your digestive system, make you feel uncomfortable, and inevitably add to your stress. Couple poor food choices with inadequate sleep, and your body will struggle to function at a normal, healthy level. Getting sufficient sleep (6-7 hours minimum) and eating a wholesome diet free of sugar and processed foods will improve the way your body functions and make you feel energetic and less stressed.
Extreme stress can have adverse affect on anyone—but the impact for doctors and other allied health care professionals can be especially devastating, as the health and well-being of others is at stake. The de-stressing tips provided here as ways to combat job stress can work wonders for people working in high-pressure atmospheres. But to protect from that unexpected circumstance when a mishap does occur, the best protection is to secure a personal Professional Liability Insurance policy. Learn more about coverage offered through Lockton Health.