Stress Busting Tips from One Human Service Provider to Another
Are you stressed? Do you feel like no one understands your day to day struggles? Are you burnt out? Do you feel like you’re going to explode? Do you feel like you just can’t give anymore?
If you answered yes to any, if not all, of those questions, please be assured YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Direct care professionals who teach and treat individuals with complex behavioral, social, and emotional needs must be prepared to face stressors that test your boundaries every day.
Working with special and complex needs persons over an extended period of time can cause what has been termed “Compassion Fatigue”. Experts on stress, burnout, and mindfulness explain how attachment to stressful experiences is the biggest barrier to balanced mental health. Dr. Charles Figley explains that when “…caregivers focus on others without practicing self-care, destructive behaviors can surface. Apathy, isolation, bottled up emotions and substance abuse head a long list of symptoms associated with the secondary traumatic stress disorder now labeled: Compassion Fatigue”.
We are subjected to emotional strain due to the nature of our professions. As health care providers, it is imperative to understand, prevent, and manage stress to protect ourselves, so we can better protect our clients. Many companies have taken the initiative by incorporating stress prevention programs and mental health incentives. Research shows that productivity and employee retention increased when employers supported programs aimed at increasing employees’ mental health.
Current stress-reduction research suggests the following tips may assist in preventing and managing work-related stress:
1. Work hard. Rest hard.
Documentation got you down? Engage in uninterrupted documentation time for 25 minutes. No interruptions. Set a timer. When the timer goes off, set the timer for 5 minutes to engage in movement. Avoid technology at all costs.
2. Ask for help.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to know exactly what to do and how to do??? Unfortunately we live in a world where changes occur constantly and expectations are modified and ever growing. If you’re questioning anything save yourself the headache/time, and ASK FOR HELP.
As cliché as it sounds, IT WORKS! We advise our clients to take space and breathe all the time, but have we ever used this coping skill when confronted with work stressors? Giving ourselves time to process rather than react on an emotional level is crucial to maintaining positive work relationships, which is very important.
Find a coworker or a person who is working on similar tasks and set up an environment where each person is working independently, but is able to collaborate if need be. It has helped us in the past when swarmed with documentation to be more motivated to complete the work while knowing you’re not alone battling the DOCUMENTATION MONSTER.
4. Leave IT at work.
It is so important to find a hobby or something you enjoy outside of work that will allow you to disconnect and rejuvenate. Carrying stressors from the work place into your home life can be detrimental to your personal relationships. When arriving at home give yourself 15-30 minutes to decompress and enjoy your personal life.
We encourage you to seek further coping skills to guide you throughout your work day while dealing with stress. We hope these “Stress Busting Tips” will help you along your journey.
Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived Self-efficacy in Cognitive Development and Functioning. Educational Psychologist, 28, 117-148.
Cherniss, C. (1980). Professional Burnout in Human Service Organizations. New York: Praeger.
Greer, H. G., & Greer, B. B. (1992). Stopping Burnout Before it Starts: Prevention Measures at the Preservice Level. Teacher Education and Special Education, 15(3), 168-174. (EJ 455 745).