How to deal with stress in the healthcare industry

Susanna Kahr

Anyone who works in healthcare will tell you that it’s rewarding and challenging in equal measure. One of the biggest challenges for many healthcare professionals is dealing with the stress that they encounter every day. Whether it be stress related to keeping patients alive, making difficult decisions or working in highly pressurized environments that others can never comprehend, stress can really bring you down. But, there are ways to make it easier, here are some things you need to know. 

Get to know the different types of stress

If you work in healthcare, then you already know that there are many different types of stress – the everyday stress that you know how to deal with and stress that feels so big that you don’t know how to deal with it. Due to recent changes within the healthcare system, burnout has become a big issue amongst healthcare professionals with over half of physicians and a third of nurses experiencing symptoms. Burnout is more than just feeling stressed everyday, it is all-consuming stress resulting in exhaustion, cynicism and an overwhelming feeling of hatred towards our jobs. If you think you might be suffering from burnout, take a look at our article on the topic and make sure to get the help you need from your management. 


Company encourages growth in all areas, but is extremely high paced with much burnout risk.– anonymous employer review at Vandelay Enterprises


Share your problems with others  

A problem shared is a problem halved, so make sure to tell your colleagues if you’re feeling too stressed and if there are any specific problems making you more stressed than normal. Opening up to your management team, direct colleagues or even your friends outside work, will help you to release any bottled up emotions and see a way through the stress. You might feel pressure to keep it together when you’re around your patients, but it’s more than Ok to unload the difficult emotions you have onto your team. 


“Healthy coworker interaction leads to healthy work-life balance and activities outside of work” – anonymous employer review at Catholic Health Initiatives


Cry when you need to 

Again, if the stress you feel is too much, make sure to cry when you need to. Take another colleague with you and just take a few moments to cry. If you’ve just lost a patient, or had to comfort someone who has found out that they’re dying, then of course you will feel sad, you’re only human after all. However selfless you might be in front of your patients, crying is a healthy way to process grief because it provides grounding and helps us build resilience and coping mechanisms, so don’t bottle it up. 


“I was crying from all the stress. I miss my patients and I only continued the emotional rollercoaster because of them.” – anonymous employer review at Brookdale Senior Living


Look for solutions

If you feel frustrated about something, look for constructive solutions instead of getting angry. Whilst confrontations with patients or colleagues might make you feel angry and defensive, try to focus instead on trying to alleviate the stress in the situation. Think about why you disagree on the matter at hand and think about whether you can find a compromise or if there is an entirely new way to solve the problem. Being clear and concise in your communication will not only help those around you, it will also mean that you come across more assertive and in control, which will help you to feel better and less stressed. 


“Good leadership and constructive learning environment” – anonymous employer review at A & D Healthcare


Breathe

When you’re really up against it, racing to save a patient’s life it can be easy to forget about yourself and get caught up in it all. You probably feel frightened about the weight of the work you’re doing and will start breathing quickly, your heart will start racing and you’ll feel sweaty, this is the body in flight or fight mode, which is totally normal. All you need to do is remember to breathe deeply, taking long, slow breaths and shaking out any tension you feel in your shoulders or neck. Try to focus on the procedures you need to perform and take it step by step, as this will take the focus off your fear and onto the routine that you can rely on to help the patient. 


“It is easy and not too busy that you have moments at work to breathe. I enjoy helping people.” – anonymous employer review at Miracle Ear


Look for an employer that takes stress management seriously

Finally, if you feel like you’re lacking the support you need to manage stress properly, then it might be time to look for a new job. If that’s the case, then we’re here to help. Here at kununu, we have over 4 million ratings of more than 840,000 companies. What’s more, employees, both past and present, rate employers with a “support from management” score, so you can find your next employer quickly and easily, using reviews that you can trust. So, what are you waiting for?

 

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What’s the level of stress like in your healthcare organization? Is your team supportive and helpful when it comes to managing stress? Let us know in a review on our site and help other healthcare professionals find the right job for them. 

 

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