Extreme stress and burnout are not abnormal for those who have healthcare jobs. Heavy workloads, odd hours, difficult situations and having other people's health and well-being in your hands, can place those working in the healthcare industry under great mental and physical pressure. Those who can identify the differences between stress and burnout, are best able to gain the greatest amount of satisfaction from their work. Coping strategies and figuring out what is most important in your life, can keep you healthy, happy and prevent physical illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension, as well as mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. The following list are 8 crucial steps to beating stress and burnout:
- Find time to decompress off the job. If you can take a vacation or an extra long weekend, you can relax your mind. The nature of the healthcare industry is that patients need care at all hours of the day. You may be required to work unusual shifts such as graveyard or be on call 24 hours a day. This is particularly the case with many entry level healthcare jobs. If you can take advantage of your days off and rest, or do something entirely non-work related, you can revitalize yourself for the following workweek.
- Take frequent breaks throughout the day. A monotonous job may cause you to feel tense or anxious, where short breaks can help you unwind. Something as simple as walking out to your car and back, or running up and down the stairs, 5 minutes at a time, can help relieve tension.
- Diet and nutrition play an important role in your overall health. Your body must be properly fueled to work at optimum performance. This includes a well balanced diet of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. The absence of a sound diet may compromise your immune system, creating a propensity for higher stress levels and potential illness.
- Exercise is crucial to a healthy mind and body. Depending on your preference and time constraints, a short workout with sudden bursts of high intensity, followed by periods of low intensity, can help alleviate stress. However, simple exercises such as working in your garden or walking your dog can staunch the feelings of stress and burnout as well.
- Get plenty of sleep. Adequate rest is paramount to preventing stress related diseases and having enough energy perform well at work. Those working healthcare jobs, who must work night shifts, should get dark shades over their window, to sleep well during daylight hours. Aim for at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep. If that is not possible, taking short naps throughout the day and night will also suffice.
- Solid relationships both at work and outside the office help prevent stress and feelings of work burnout. Having a good support system on and off the job engender better feelings about your job and prevent too much stress. Get to know some others who have worked healthcare jobs, to find out about their coping mechanisms. If necessary, contact Human Resources or your respective union to obtain better working conditions. If you can get better pay, better benefits and a more reasonable caseload, you are less likely to feel burned out at work.
- Set limits for yourself and choose your battles. While it is tempting to bite off more than you can chew work-wise, especially in the beginning, it will only lead to additional stress. Learn to say no politely, but firmly if you honestly cannot handle the extra work. Working in healthcare requires a cool demeanor with patients and co-workers. Do not rush to argue with them every time they confront you or you disagree with them. Save it for situations that really matter.
- Do not ignore how you really feel. Regardless of whether you are using methods to prevent stress or searching for a new job altogether, place nothing above getting well. If you are genuinely burned out, search for a career that will make you happy. If you continually work in a place you despise, you are more prone to a feeling emptiness, mental and physical illness. In order to be a productive person, you must treat burnout in whatever way makes you happy and keeps you healthy.