With the ever-increasing demands of the healthcare industry, many physicians, nurses and practice managers are faced with the issue of work-life balance. While today’s typical full-time jobs entail an 8-5 work schedule, such is not the case in medicine, when patient care is the priority and office hours can run long, many times well into the night. Factors like long hours, worries of job security, unfairness and a lack of control in the workplace are often to blame for high levels of work stress. Proper work-life balance is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, although those in demanding positions may find it difficult to achieve.
Aside from encouraging productivity, helping your employees maintain a healthy work-life balance speaks volumes of your practice’s commitment to its staff. Workplace stress can manifest itself physically, in an array of health conditions capable of causing long-term harm. These include cardiovascular disease, hypertension, depression and anxiety, to name a few. High levels of workplace stress can also lead to a series of unhealthy behaviors, such as overeating, alcoholism or recreational drug use.
Combatting the effects of workplace stress is costing the industry money, and lots of it. In fact, 5 to 8 percent of healthcare spending is spent managing the adverse effects of work stress. If you or your employees are suffering from work-related stress, consider these tips to alleviate the associated psychological symptoms.
Decompress to Alleviate Stress
A continuous, heavy workload is one of the most common causes of workplace stress. It’s important to take a vacation or a long weekend every once in a while to decompress and relax your mind. Healthcare employees are often faced with erratic hours, with many working graveyard or 24-hour shifts to provide adequate patient care. Encourage your employees to take their vacation days, or promote non-work related activities, which can revitalize both mind and body. You might also consider initiating policies that dictate when it is acceptable to handle work issues when away from the office.
Maintain Healthy Relationships
Meaningful relationships outside of the office can help reduce feelings of stress and work burnout. The healthcare industry carries a unique set of issues capable of causing stress, and while friends and family may not quite understand this occupational hazard, they can offer good support for handling the emotional load. Spending time with those close to you can offer an enhanced sense of wellbeing, which can pave the way for great mental health.
Take Breaks When Necessary
There is a reason why many jobs offer their employees short, 15-minute breaks throughout the day. Doing so can do wonders for alleviating workplace stress. A simple walk to your car, or a trip up and down the office stairs can help relieve tension and anxiety. If your practice has no set policy on breaks, consider implementing one that offers all employees an opportunity to step away from their duties for a bit.
Consume a Healthy Diet
If you are experiencing high levels of workplace stress, it’s possible that your diet is the culprit. Diet and nutrition impact much more than just your physical health. Ensure you’ve got sufficient energy to take on the work day by adhering to a well-balanced diet containing complex carbs, fruits, vegetables and lean meats. A poor diet can have adverse effects on your immune system, which can result in illness or higher levels of stress.
Engage in Regular Exercise
Aside from diet and nutrition, regular exercise is imperative for maintaining good health. If you lack the time for regular gym sessions, consider short workouts high-intensity workouts that pack a big punch within a small amount of time. This type of workout can alleviate stress, although even simple exercise, such as a brisk walk, can have positive effects on your health and stress levels.
Get Adequate Rest
How much sleep you get each night can set the tone for your work day. Getting an adequate amount of rest is essential to optimal work performance. From energy levels, to staving off stress related conditions, a regular sleep schedule filled with 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted rest can be a good line of defense against work related stress and anxiety. Short powernaps throughout the day can also be effective.
Consult Human Resources
Human resources plays a large role in ensuring employees are maintaining an adequate work-life balance. If you or your employees are feeling overwhelmed by feelings of stress, speak to an HR employee who can help in finding a solution that works well for both the employee and the practice. Some solutions may include an increase in pay, better benefits or other incentives that can serve as motivation to perform your job well.
Explore New Options
A system that lightens the workload on the part of your practice can have long-lasting, positive effects on staff morale. Consider implementing new technologies that can make tasks simpler for practice employees. Messaging services, for instance, can offer assistance for receptionists and other office staff consistently overwhelmed with inbound calls. Certain software systems can eliminate the need for repeat paperwork. Anything that can make work easier for your staff is a smart investment, and one that is likely to result in new heights of success.