Stress in Healthcare Professionals: The New Norm?

Stress in Healthcare Professionals: The New Norm?

By Philip Hemphill
Philip Hemphill
Published: March 6, 2018

Are you a healthcare professional who is subject to pressure or tension?  Do you experience emotional, physical, or mental strain? Do you, like so many of us, feel overstretched, overtaxed, pushed to the limit, worried, harassed, or anxious? If this sounds like you, you are not alone. But you might not be aware of the potential health concerns that extreme stress at work can raise. At Lakeview Health, we are keenly aware of the problems associated with stress — especially in the healthcare profession — and are here to help.

Workplace Stress: The New Normal?

In 1845, Thoreau lamented, “Men have become the tools of their tools.” However true that might have been in the 19th century, it certainly reflects our intimate relationship with technology today as we continuously pay partial attention and experience the digital fog of techno-brain burnout. However, there is a degree to which stress has crept into our lives at such a powerful rate most are not fully aware of its impact and have just accepted it as reality.

How dangerous is stress?   Most know the classic definition of stress as some version of: “The discrepancy between the demands of a situation and the capacity of the individual or group to deal with it comfortably.” Have you paused lately to reflect on what your demands are and what are your capacities?  If you have not, you may be ill-prepared for what you discover. Take a moment now to monitor your body’s response to the above words, the thoughts that have flashed through your mind, and your behavior during the past minute. By doing so, you hopefully have a better sense of yourself as a whole person.

As a professional, you have probably refined your adaptation skill set to include the interactions between the traumatic histories to which you are routinely exposed and your personality traits, personal history, and the social and cultural context in which you exist. You have accepted that you will come into contact with the stress and trauma of others and that this will force you to construct meaning as it occurs and recurs in everyday living.  For many of us — especially in the healthcare profession — it is inescapable.

Signs of Workplace Stress

If you are worried that you or someone with whom you work is succumbing to workplace stress, look for the following signs:

  • Absenteeism
  • Working longer hours
  • Missing deadlines
  • A drop in productivity
  • Conflicts with co-workers
  • Resentment over pay
  • Inability to take constructive feedback
  • Feelings of boredom, frustration, or personal discouragement
  • Apathy toward symptom stress
  • Feeling emotionally or physically drained

More severe signs of professional burnout may include:

  • Exhaustion (e.g., “I feel exhausted due to my job as a counselor.”)
  • Incompetence (e.g., “I do not feel like I am making a change in my clients.’ lives”)
  • Negative work environment (e.g., “I feel frustrated with the system in my workplace.”)
  • Devaluing client (e.g., “I am not interested in my clients and their problems.”)
  • Deterioration in personal life (e.g., “My relationships with family members have been negatively impacted by my work as a counselor.”)

At Lakeview Health, we are committed to helping our patients identify the signs of the stress that results from being a healthcare professional and helping them resolve it and approach the workplace in a new, healthier, and ultimately less dangerous way.

Developing a Stress-Free Mindset

As the tension between your professional needs and obligations impacts your personal ones, consider the powerful work on the concept of “hardiness” outlined by Dr. Salvatore Maddi.  In his work, Dr. Maddi identifies three practices that he has used to help patients alter their perspectives on workplace stress. We refer to these as “the three C’s”:

  • Commitment – making the maximum effort at whatever you are doing—involving yourself in it totally.
  • Control – believing and acting as if you can influence events taking place around you.
  • Challenge – considering change to be natural. Instead of fearing it, you anticipate it as a useful stimulus to your personal development.

Embracing these ideas requires courage, and you may need help to make this change. This is where the clinical team at Lakeview Health comes in. Our counselors, mental health experts, and addiction specialists are here to support you every step of the way.

Learn More at Lakeview Health Today

At Lakeview Health, our goal is to help you link your personal and professional missions, which allow you to have a more rewarding, enriched personal life and work life. Remember, the “norm” is defined by you, so the “new normal” isn’t as far away as you think. The choice is yours. Protect your career and your mental health by learning how to deal with stress at work. Learn more about what Lakeview Health can do for you by reaching out to us online or calling our team at 866.704.7692.