National Hospital Week

Advice from Healthcare Professionals on Coping with Stress

There is a common saying that goes, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” It’s so common that it may be easy to brush off, while not considering the deeper meaning. However, it highlights the importance of self-care, especially for people whose occupation is caring for others. I think we can all reflect on a moment in our lives when we were stressed or tired and snapped at someone more quickly than we normally would have, or maybe we just cut corners to get a task completed without actually putting much time, energy, or passion into it. When it comes to healthcare professionals, being burnt out and over-worked is all too common.

There is a stigma surrounding mental health that is very alive in our society still today. Some argue that it is even greater among healthcare professionals. In 2012, 2,000 physicians were surveyed, and 50% admitted to having symptoms of a diagnosable mental illness in the past but not seeking treatment. They cited fear of being labeled unstable, losing their license, or being seen as not being able to provide adequate care to their patients as their reasons for not seeking treatment. Nearly 1 in 3 doctors here in the United States is clinically depressed, and around 100,000 medical professionals struggle with a substance abuse disorder each year. With this being said, we went straight to the source and asked some healthcare professionals directly about what they find to be the most stressful aspects of their jobs and how they deal with this stress and try to prioritize their own self-care on a daily basis. Maybe you can relate to some of their answers or even try to implement some of their advice in your own daily routine!

What aspects of your job do you find most stressful?

  • Ethical dilemmas
  • Workload
  • Lack of resources and staffing
  • Fear of making critical errors or mistakes
  • High acuity of the patient population

What tips would you give another medical professional on how they can prioritize their mental health and practice self-care each day?

  • “Let your shifts go. When it’s done it’s done and don’t dwell on it. Go home and take a shower, wash it down the drain and start over the next day fresh.”-RN, Neuro Critical Care
  • “Don’t do work from home whenever possible. Take a few minutes for prayer/meditation/mindfulness each day before entering your practice (takes less than 10 minutes)”-MD, General Pediatrics
  • “Find things you enjoy, take time for yourself, and seek counseling when necessary. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and honest.”- RN, Neuro Critical Care
  • “Find something that makes you happy like going for a walk, journaling, dancing, running or maybe even finding a hobby.”-HUC, Neuro Critical Care
  • “Try to spend time each day with friends/family who support you, exercise, and try to get adequate sleep.”-RN, ICU
  • “You can’t fix everyone. If you don’t feel of sound mind in the area you’re working in, you need to find the right environment that works for your health, physically and mentally.”-RN, Critical Care
  • “Having someone to talk to is one of the most important things that I’ve found work for me. But also dividing your home and workplace. I find that difficult at times. Taking care of your body can also help your physical and mental health. I always notice I feel better after working out and eating a healthy meal.”- RN, ICU
  • “Don’t take anything too seriously; do what you can and don’t linger on feelings of inadequacy.”- RN, Neuro ICU

Happy National Hospital Week and happy Mental Health Month to you! Thank you so much to each and every medical staff member working in communities across the United States. As an RN working in Neuro Critical Care said, “I have to remind myself that I am just a human and all I can do is my best each and every shift. As long as I’ve done that, no one can ask anything else of me.” We hope that you are able to find sometime today and every day to breathe, meditate, spend time with friends or family, or just focus on enjoying life and de-stressing for even just a few minutes. You deserve it.

Are you a healthcare worker and you’re worried about your mental health? Take a screening here to start your mental health journey.

Emily Wells is the Northeast Regional Coordinator for MHAET. She lives in Johnson City, TN with her husband, Michael, two cats, Marla and Khaleesi, and dog, Petunia. Her hobbies include being outside, gardening, and hiking with Petunia. She loves working for MHAET because it allows her to meet people throughout the community who care about helping others. She is able to have interactions with students from around Northeast TN who share their own stories and personal experiences with mental health and inspire her each day.

The Mental Health Association offers all services to eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin or disability.

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