By Karen Taylor, Employee Health Coach, Methodist Health System
Ask any hospital employee what their No. 1 challenge is, and most likely they’ll say “stress.” Whether it’s at the bedside or behind the scenes, stress is part of the job in a hospital, even in a positive work environment.
Unfortunately, stress doesn’t just stop once we leave the hospital. The day’s events, financial stress, relationships, kids, and aging parents are just a few of the many stresses we’re all juggling. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to balance all that life throws our way.
Methodist Health System recognizes that stress can take its toll on employees, not only in work performance but also in our own health. Stress actually lowers our immune system response, causing us to be more susceptible to illness. Since stress isn’t likely to go away, our goal at Methodist is to help employees take care of themselves, every day.
Here are some ways to build stress management into your daily life:
- Take a deep breath. Inhale deeply, hold for 5 seconds, then exhale through your mouth. This helps us refocus and reorganize our thoughts, and it can be very calming.
- Take time for yourself. Spend 5 minutes to regroup or separate yourself from your worries. Read a book, take a short walk, or get away from your desk or the break room.
- Stay active. Exercise helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Treat your body right. Don’t rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes. Instead, eat right, get adequate sleep, and exercise.
- Get support from friends and family. You may find benefit in verbalizing what you’re feeling. Sometimes we carry stress and don’t realize it because we’re working so hard to take care of others. Simply stepping back to assess the dynamics and verbally identify the stressor can be therapeutic.
- Have a good laugh. When’s the last time you watched a really funny movie? Think about the times you laughed uncontrollably and how you felt afterward.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Sometimes we let our own stresses take on a life of their own.
- Separate yourself from stressors. Take a break. Take your vacation time. It’s for your own good.
- Remove the clutter in your life. Reorganize your work space or areas at home for added organization and calmness. This allows for more creativity and energy, which is sure to boost your spirit.
- Get help if you need it. Check to see if your health care facility offers resources such as an employee assistance program (EAP) that may cover financial counseling to help with psychological issues. At Methodist, we provide such a program as a benefit to employees. It is confidential and can help get our employees back on track.
Remember, asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. Taking care of yourself is something you can do for you, your family, and your patients. In reality, stress probably isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s how you manage stress that matters.
To be part of the Methodist Health System team, where we help you see the light at the end of the tunnel, visit Jobs.MethodistHealthSystem.org.