Stress and Healthcare Professionals: What You Need to Know

 

Sleeping man near money with calculator

Written By Lucy Peters

83% of workers in the United States experience work-related stress according to the American Institute of Stress, and those who work in the healthcare industry aren’t exempt. With many factors at play, such as a heavy workload and long hours, stress is often viewed as an inevitable part of the job. However, by recognizing the causes and effects of stress, you can manage it much more easily. Whether you’re looking to get certified for the first time, or are planning to re-certify, keeping in mind how stress can affect you in the healthcare line of work

Causes of stress in the healthcare industry

For many in healthcare professions, stress is considered as an unavoidable part of the job. While the causes of workplace stress vary from person to person, it’s commonly triggered by heavy workloads, long hours, and the sheer amount of responsibility that comes with the position. Student loan debt may also be a major stressor for some considering the amount of schooling needed for many healthcare positions,  though it can be especially stressful when figuring out how to manage troubling finances. While causes of stress in the healthcare industry are abundant, it’s necessary to keep in mind that it can have a serious impact on a worker’s health, and even on their patients – and even more so for those who are just beginning their careers.

The physical and mental side effects

While getting to the root of workplace stressors can be a great way to begin solving your problems, identifying the symptoms of stress can prove to be just as important.  Common physical symptoms include headaches, muscle pain/tension, and fatigue. Stress can also increase your risks of developing health problems like high blood pressure, and can lead to further issues like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

While the physical effects of stress on the body may be a bit more difficult to notice for some, the mental effects may be more prominent. Mentally, someone who is experiencing workplace stress may develop anxiety, a lack of focus, mood swings, and can feel overwhelmed, which can all affect one’s ability to do their job, thus putting the patients at risk. In more severe cases, stress can also lead to depression as well, making it vital to manage the symptoms as early as possible.

Managing your symptoms and when to see a doctor 

While you’re sure to experience stress at some point in your career, there are several ways you can manage your symptoms and relieve it, both at work and at home. At work, taking a walk on your break can be a great way to clear your head, and making sure you’re taking all of your breaks in the first place can be a great help in getting your mind off of the task at hand.

At home, regular physical activity can act as an outlet. In fact, respondents to a Stress in America survey reported that 30% of adults felt less stressed after exercising. Other ways to relieve stress at home include participating in relaxing activities, like yoga or meditation, which can both allow you to clear your mind and think things through in a peaceful way.

While there are many simple ways to reduce and relieve stress in your day to day life as a healthcare professional, it’s necessary to know when it’s time to see a doctor. For instance, if you’re experiencing the more severe symptoms that stress can bring (like depression), or if the stress affects your job (or day-to-day life), it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor.

While it’s likely that everyone will experience stress at some point in their lives, those in the healthcare industry may view it as part of the job. For that reason, it’s necessary to know about the symptoms – both physical and mental – that stress can bring in order to identify and manage them, before they become too overwhelming.

 

 

Can Fabrics Worsen Anxiety for People on the Spectrum?

 

Written By Lucy Peters

If you have a child on the spectrum and the first thing they do when they are anxious is reach for a plush toy or a soft blanket, it is probably because people are more attentive to tactile stimuli when they are upset, as found in a recent study. Fabrics are particularly important for people on the spectrum because these disorders are associated with differences in responses to sensory stimuli and sensitivity to these stimuli. To what extent can the choice of fabric aid or worsen distress in persons with ASD?

Pleasure and Distress are Matters of Perception

A study published in the journal Autism Research looked into how people with autism react to different textured surfaces compared to people who were not on the spectrum. Results showed that people with Apserger’s syndrome gave similar ratings for ‘roughness’ and ‘pleasantness’ of surfaces to those of their peers. However, they had a slight tendency to find the least pleasant stimulus (mesh fabric) rougher and less pleasing than their typical counterparts. Their research also found that the more frequent the exposure to unpleasant materials was, the greater the distress with respect to the material.

Wearing Clothes Amounts to Repeated Exposure

In the above study, participants were simply ‘touched’ with different textures/materials. Because results showed that repeated exposure increased negative response, it is only logical that if participants had to actually wear unpleasant materials, the result could be the kind of distress that could trigger anxiety. As found by research by Gillott and Standen, increased anxiety for people with ASD in strongly related to sensory stimuli and unpleasant events.

People with ASD React More Intensely to Unpleasant Stimulation

Dan King’s study showed that people with ASD have a more intense reaction to unpleasant rather than pleasant stimuli. This means that when choosing fabrics for everyday shirts, trousers etc., it is almost more important to beware of fabrics that are known to distress a person with ASD, rather than trying to find clothing that seems pleasant to someone who is not on the spectrum. Less grating fabrics such as cotton are typical choices for everyday wear, while rougher materials such as linen or rafia may be more distressing.

ASD and Sensory Anxiety

Taking great care to find the right fabric is key for anyone with ASD, but if they also have sensory processing disorder (SPD), then doing so can have a big effect on a person’s quality of life. For people with SPD, a sensorily unfriendly environment is a trigger to anxiety. Triggers can come from uncomfortable clothing, loud noises, or bright lights. Symptoms of this type of anxiety range from dizziness to stomach cramps, and even poor balance. Some advocate slow exposure to the source of anxiety (e.g. touching an unpleasant fabric, wearing a small piece of this fabric then eventually a larger piece) until exposure becomes less distressing.

The clothes people with ASD wear can play an important role in affecting mood and anxiety. They can react particularly strongly to fabrics they find unpleasant, so exposure should be gradual. If they also have severe SPD then avoidance (prevention) can be a better option than battling against distress. Each individual should decide what fabrics they are comfortable with, especially when it comes to clothing – which is worn for various hours straight and on repeated occasions.

 

Stress Management Consulting Program Article on Burnout

Burnout can happen to even the most energetic and optimistic person.  Over work, heavy schedule, stress and sickness can all lead to a burnout.  If someone pushes him or herself too much, it can happen suddenly.  Burnout can be avoided by properly scheduling oneself and setting limitations.  It can also be avoided by taking time to take care of oneself.  It is important to give self care for one’s own health.

Identifying burnout before it hits is critical to health. Please also review our Stress Management Consulting Program

 

The article, “Prevent burnout – 3 burnout symptoms and how to avoid them” by Thea O’Connor reviews the various issues surrounding burnout and how to avoid and also overcome it.  She states,

“Burnout affects about 5-7 per cent of the working population, according to Michael Leiter, professor of industrial and organisational psychology at Deakin University. Leiter explains that it is difficult to say if the condition is on the rise, since burnout has not been tracked over time, and is likely to be hidden in the “mental stress” category of workers’ compensation claims.”

To read the entire article on burnout, please click here

Burnout can happen suddenly to someone who constantly is doing too much.  It is important to notice the signs.  Also, please review our Stress Management Consulting Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.

Stress Management Consulting Program Article on Stress Eating

Stress causes so many health issues.  From heart to high blood pressure and ulcers, stress can become a major cause of illness and bad health.  Bad ways of coping with stress can also cause health issues.  Many individuals look to cope with stress via binge eating.  Over eating and eating unhealthy as a way to cope with stress can cause multiple issues for those on restricted diets or those trying to stay in shape.  There are far more productive ways to cope with stress but unfortunately many turn to food when depressed or upset.

Proper coping with stress determines if one handles it properly. Stress eating only makes matters worst

 

The article, “Stress eating — there are ways to cope, and change the way you think about food” by Sandra Guy looks at this unhealthy coping method.  She states,

“ny rationale for coping with and overcoming unhealthy eating habits — especially over-eating high-fat, high-sugar and highly processed food as a stress reliever — requires a full-scale change of mindset, desire and behaviors, experts say. “Stress eating is poor stress management,” says Sylvia Herbozo, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry and surgery and director of the Body Image and Eating Behaviors Lab at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s College of Medicine.”

To read the entire article please click here

Please also review our Stress Management Consulting Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  As a Stress Management Consultant you can help individuals cope with stress in a variety of healthy ways.

 

How Can Employers Reduce Financial Stress For Healthcare Professionals?

 

 

Written by Lucy Peters

Around one in five Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and around 85% of them report feeling stressed about money at least sometimes, according to a survey by Propeller Insights. For 52% of healthcare workers belonging to Generation Y (i.e. those born in the 1980s and 1990s), personal finances are actually the top source of stress. Research by Emerging RN Leader suggests that around 20% of nurses have more than one employer, and many work full-time in two different clinics or hospitals. Much of the problem is driven by student loans. The median loan amount racked up by graduate nurses hovers between $40,000 and $54,999. This is a big burden to start one’s career with, and indeed, one that can be hard to eliminate in just a few years. How can employers reduce the burden on these and other workers, so they can have the future they deserve after so many years of service?

Financial Stress Is Not Exclusive To Nurses

Employers should offer financial advice to all workers on staff – including doctors, despite their significantly higher salaries. For one, physicians can feel stressed by the fact that their pay is often linked to productivity metrics. Others can enjoy relative stability, yet lack the financial literacy they need to protect themselves against financial fraud or to ensure they have enough saved for retirement. Financial literacy training can help all medical professionals ensure they have enough to live on when they are older. It can serve as a guide so that they are better able to spot scams aimed at older workers and dubious investment opportunities that can destroy years of savings.

Older people may not be aware of the steps they should take to stop the unauthorized use of credit cards. They may also need help with understanding issues like bank and card fees. Financial elder abuse does happen, far more frequently than is discussed on the media. Research indicates that increasing age makes people more vulnerable to financial scams. Health workers therefore need to ensure that their finances and investments are being overseen by trusted professionals. New investment opportunities should be sifted through with a fine-toothed comb and run by trusted financial advisers.

Financial Basics

Employers should provide nurses and doctors with financial courses covering basics such as budget creation, minimum savings percentages, and saving for retirement from day one. A study by EBTS found that not even 50% of healthcare employees budget their finances or have a savings plan in place. Employees should be provided with technology that make financial tasks easier. Apps like Mint and You Need a Budget can easily be linked to their credit cards so that they can easily identify where their money is going at the end of the month.

Using these apps helps them clearly see how everything from that daily cup of gourmet coffee to dining out twice a week or more can hamper their ability to make decent savings from week to week. Literacy sessions should also cover topics such as loans and credit, how to pay debts off quickly and efficiently, and how to improve credit reports. Finally, staff should be introduced to different ways to start saving for their retirement today. This can include pension plans, offered by some private employers.

Battling financial stress begins by taking a proactive strategy to debt and spending. The first step for healthcare professionals is to analyze their own spending patterns so as to work out how to find the amounts they need to build a healthy savings nest. Employers should also provide financial training, so that employers can avoid stepping into financial pits – including credit debt, high-interest mortgages, and potentially problematic pension plans.

 

How Smart Home Technologies Are Helping People With Anxiety

 

Written by Lucy Peters

Anxiety disorders make up the largest amount of mental illness cases in the U.S., affecting 18.1 percent of the population each year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Anxiety disorders can develop from various risk factors including genetics, personality, brain chemistry, life events, and the environment you live in. When left untreated, anxiety disorders can lead to other mental health problems, like depression, or even physical health problems, like high blood pressure. Thankfully, anxiety disorders are highly treatable and can be avoided by making some lifestyle changes. One thing that is changing how people deal with anxiety disorders is smart home technology. Thanks to new innovations, there are ways that smart home technologies can help people reduce their anxiety.

They take the stress out of home management

A potential source of anxiety and stress for homeowners is having to worry about whether or not some important home appliances or components are working properly. With smart home technologies, you don’t need to worry much about that. Most smart home technologies work independently and are built to work efficiently with as little maintenance as possible. For example, with a properly wired smart thermostat, you can relax knowing that your internal home temperature is always at your preferred level. You can use it to monitor or change the temperature in your home even when thousands of miles away.

You can use some smart home technologies to relax 

An anxiety attack can happen at any time when you are at home. If you suffer from an anxiety attack, you may require immediate guidance in dealing with it, which is where a smart speaker comes in. There are skills designed for smart speakers that can help you tackle some of your anxiety problems. For example, Mindscape is a free therapy skill for Google Home and Amazon Alexa that can help you relax by taking you through breathing exercises and asking you about the issues causing your mental distress. Through the smart speakers, the skill can offer you targeted advice on how to overcome what’s bothering you so that you can reduce your anxiety.

They boost safety and security at home 

Feeling perfectly secure at home is vital for people with anxiety disorders. You can use various smart home devices to boost security and safety at home. For example, smart cameras paired with smart sensors can keep an eye on your home at all times and alert you and the authorities immediately when there is an intruder. Similarly, smart fire alarms continually monitor your home and alert you when there is a fire so that you can spring into action and save yourself from property loss or injuries. Smart carbon monoxide detectors also give you peace of mind knowing that there are no traces of the dangerous gas in your home.

Anxiety disorders can make it hard to relax even in your own home. Luckily, you can invest in various smart home technologies that can drastically reduce your anxieties so that you can live a stress-free life at home.

 

Stress Management Consulting Program Article on Stress In America

Stress is a universal thing for all living creatures.  Stress can be deadly but it can also be merely a daily thing that we all face successfully without losing our minds.

Americans face different types of stress than others.  In developing countries, stress to merely survive is a reality.  Americans should consider this when dealing with stress and classify what is most important versus merely a frustration.  This does not mean any form of stress is not truly affecting Americans, but it does show that some stress should be dismissed as not as important.

What are the biggest stresses American face? Please also review our Stress Management Consulting Program and see if it meets your goals

 

Many Americans do face real and important issues though.  The article, “What Americans are stressed about, charted” from survey conducted by the APA, looks at what really stressed Americans.  The article states,

“APA since 2007 has commissioned a national survey to evaluate the country’s state of stress. The survey assesses the impact of stress on the general public, determines leading sources of stress, identifies how the public manages stress, and measures perceptions of stress.”

Many of the issues are usually political, or centered around acts of terrorism within the United States.  To read the entire article, please click here

Stress can be due to silly things or serious things.  We need as Americans to remove or reduce the silly things and learn how to cope with the more serious issues we face.  Please also review our Stress Management Consulting Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.

How can Art Aid in the Battle against Cancer-Related Anxiety and Depression?

 

 

Written by Lucy Peters

Depression affects up to 20% and anxiety 10% of people with cancer, compared to 5% and 7%, respectively, of the general population – as per a 2018 study (by Alexandra Pittman), published in the British Medical Journal. Treating these mental conditions is vital, say researchers, because when they are ignored, both quality of life and survival, are reduced. Specific types of cancer (e.g. lung cancer) are thought to release specific chemicals which are tied into depression, while some treatments (such as chemotherapy) are also linked to this mental condition. Because antidepressant medications can interact poorly with some cancer treatments, health professionals are constantly on the lookout for natural ways to combat anxiety and depression, especially in mild-to-moderate cases. Among a small group of therapies (which includes yoga and mindfulness meditation), art creation is also proving powerful, as found in specific studies.

Art Therapy Can Reduce Pain and Anxiety in Cancer Symptoms

A study (by researchers at Northwestern Memorial Hospital) published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found that art therapy could quell a wide array of symptoms related to pain and anxiety in patients with cancer. The study involved 50 patients at Northwestern Memorial, who took part in the study for four months. During this time, said scientists, art therapy distracted patients from their disease, enabling them to focus on a positive activity they felt in control of. At the end of the study period, patients found that eight out of nine symptoms in the ESAS (Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale) were reduced. These included depression, anxiety, drowsiness, shortness of breath, and poor appetite. The only symptom on the scale that was not alleviated, was that of nausea.

Art Therapy is Easy, Cost-Effective and Powerful

Art can essentially be practiced by people of all ages – not only those with talent. The advent of new digital technologies mean that the average tech user has many devices at hand that can help them create beautiful artworks. Those into pencil drawing, meanwhile, can find numerous tutorials on drawing faces, figures, and even nature forms – all with just a click or two of their tablet or smartphone. Therefore, art creation can extend to beyond the works created in a formal therapeutical setting. Art can become a hobby that fervent creators can get ‘lost in’ as they seize the present moment and use it to express their current thoughts and emotions.

Art Therapies and Cancer Carers

A study undertaken this year by scientists at Drexel University found that in the battle against cancer, art therapy can help those who care for those who are ill. This is true whether or not the carer is a professional – such as a nurse – or a loved one of the person battling the disease. The researchers stated that families and oncology professionals can experience negative effects while caring for someone who is ill – including compassion fatigue, not having enough time to self-care, and (in the case of family) financial concerns. In the study, a total of 34 caregivers enjoyed 45 minutes of art therapy, creating art and discussing its significance afterwards. Before and after each session, participants were given surveys to report positive and negative feelings (including stress and anxiety). After art therapy, they expressed increases in enjoyment and positivity, and a decrease in negative emotions.

Research has shown that art therapy can help cancer patients battle anxiety and depression. Art has also been found to be beneficial to carers, who can face significant stress when a patient or loved one is diagnosed with cancer. Art is increasingly being used to boost the quality of life of cancer patients, and reduce the stress associated with the disease itself and its treatment.

 

Stress Management Consulting Program Article on Biological Nature of Stress

Stress affects the human body in multiple ways.  It is important to understand the nature of stress and how it affects the body.  Understanding and utilizing stress management practices can help one live a more healthy and productive life.

Men need to understand the nature of stress and incorporate proper stress management techniques. Please also review the Stress Management Consulting Program

The article, “Stress Management: The Biological Nature of Stress” by Snow Qu states,

“One of the most prominent effects of stress on the human mind is its influence on cognitive abilities. A study published in Molecular Psychiatry found that those who experience stress are more vulnerable to mood changes and anxiety disorder later in their lives. ”

To read the entire article, please click here

Stress can cause multiple physical affects on one self, from the mind to the body.  It is important to employ good stress management.  Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Program

Stress Management Consulting and Anger Management Article on The Deeper Understanding of Stress

Stress is a natural part of life.  Stress occurs daily but its universal impact is a subjective experience.  Many people succumb to stress and allow it to affect them while some are able to deal with stress and minimize its effects.  Some individuals respond as an extrovert, while others allow stress to eat them within as an introvert.   Some respond with rage, while others enter into isolation and depression.

Stress can originate from our daily schedule and the nature of one’s life.   If one understands his or her position in life and what comes with it, these natural stresses come less as a surprise.  Someone who commutes to New York City everyday, naturally expects the stress of heavy traffic and road rage scenarios.   While the stress is real and present, its effect is determined by the individual’s outlook on life and what he or she expects for that day.   The stress of this traffic can build over time but someone who has developed stress coping strategies can more effectively deal with the traffic and minimize its impact on daily life.

One can expect certain stresses on a daily and weekly life but how we handle unexpected stress and multiple stressors is key as well

The same is true for an individual who may work in a office.   One should expect numerous phone calls interrupting assignments, as well as multiple deadlines and potentially obnoxious co-workers.  These stresses while unpleasant are nevertheless expected stresses.   An individual who identifies stressors that are indigenous to one’s daily life will more successfully navigate the day and cope with the stresses that may confront them.

Likewise is the nature of one’s vocation in life.  Parents experience different stresses that single people never can imagine.  Parents are not only concerned with meeting the expectations of what need done in their own personal lives, but also must be concerned with the child’s needs.  Whether that stress is a crying baby, ensuring the children arrive at school, or take children to extracurricular activities, parents understand that certain stresses manifest throughout the day.  These potential stresses are certainly not foreign ideas that can emerge throughout the day but are sometimes expected or not entirely a surprise if they do occur.

Natural stresses that are part of one’s daily life are balanced to some extent.  They are expected.  One knows what to expect on Monday through Friday and what particular challenges come with those days.   The balancing act of coping with those stresses in a mild way and still managing the day is a very precarious balance though.   The degree of the stress or an unexpected stress can totally unravel one’s neatly planned day.  One may plan on heavy traffic on their way to the commute, but not be prepared for a fender bender.  One may be ready for the challenge to have all the children arrive to school on time, but not be ready to receive a call a from a teacher that your child skipped class or misbehaved.   These issues can unravel one already dealing with the everyday notion of stress.

One can identify stressors that are common and have a plan but when unexpected stressors occur, they can induce a panic, rage, or break down.   In addition to unplanned stress, multiple stressors can also play a role.   One may be fine with a rude honk from behind in traffic, but later, not be so fine with the person who cuts in front, or even later, the person at work who parks in one’s favorite spot.  Simply then add a spilled coffee on one’s favorite shirt and a lack of emotional control could emerge.   Certain singular stresses may be manageable but for many, multiple stressors, merely build up to a volcanic eruption.

So while individuals deal with natural stressors, they must also learn to deal with unexpected stressors and multiple stressors at once.   While one can expect certain stress to exist naturally within one’s day, one must be also able to cope with the unexpected and multiple issues that may appear uninvited on one’s schedule.

Life has order but it always does not keep to order.  This may be very difficult for an OCD person to accept but plans change.   One needs to have a plan, a set daily, weekly and monthly schedule, but stress, life itself and issues arise that deviate from anyone’s plan.   One can estimate what type of stress or difficulty may occur with a given project, day, or week, but to truly cope with stress, one must be ready to deviate from the path planned if necessary.

While life has general guideline, one can never plan completely without a few bumps and stresses in life. How one handles those detours is the key to living a physical and emotional healthy life

This goes beyond basic Anger Management and Stress Management which identifies issues that arise and teach trained responses to them, but goes a step even farther back basic recognition, and teaches expectations of not only the expected but unexpected as well.   One must be flexible in response and able to cope with new unexpected stressors in a better and healthy way.

Of course emotion is a key.  Emotion can be irrational and it can over react to stressors and various imperfections within one’s personality can emerge.   One truly must learn to know oneself, if one wishes to handle stress and anger on a given day.  This goes beyond expecting what stress goes with a day.  It goes beyond realizing that plans rarely go to plan.   It is even more than realizing that somedays are just bad days filled with multiple stresses at once.  It entails, one honestly examining one’s personality and identifying emotional responses to past stress and where personality defects exist within oneself.

This examination of self asks questions regarding oneself.  It asks if one is patient, if one is kind, if one is mature, if one is reserved as opposed to impatience, rudeness, immaturity and anger.  How we cope truly defines oneself.  One naturally likes to see the best of oneself.  One who rises to the occasion, controls emotion, and has intelligent responses to situations that are managed by reason not emotion, but this is not always the case.

A person who possesses these traits and is able to handle anger and stress is not only trained but also disciplined.  It probably did not occur by accident or over night, but was a skill that was painfully worked on everyday.  It was a virtue forged in fire, perfected over numerous falls and conscious restraint in stressful and angry situations.   Training one’s will and mind to respond a certain way that is not immature, rash, or angry is a difficult task.

So while it does ensue identifying stressors, preparation and expectation of the unexpected, it also revolves around spiritual and mental betterment.  It involves a conscious decision to change one’s response and emotional self to life situations.  It is a new spiritual outlook on life that accepts stress, not just daily stress, but every type of cross that may fall upon oneself.  It is a universal reaction to every situation that surrounds itself with patience, understanding, and kindness.

So Stress Management and Anger Management is more than just a few sessions of recorded response but is also a re-awakening of self to the world and how it works.  It is an acceptance of the temporal reality and how one is going to allow that reality to shape oneself.  One can go about as a crazed and AN unhealthy maniac reacting to stress in unhealthy and unsocial ways, or one can start to see the world in a less selfish way that puts others first and emphasizes vocation of life and giving back whatever troubles may occur from it.

Stress Management is more than a few key responses but also a change in life outlook. It is a spiritual awakening about the reality of life. Please also review our Stress Management Consulting Program

This giving back can be a spiritual one where everything is given to God, or for non religious, a giving back to society and its betterment.  If one is able to turn stress and how one reacts to it into a more positive spin, where one overcomes it and is able to make society better, or for religious and spiritually minded, offering to God, then one can truly start to see that all stress is natural to this world and no plan is concrete.   The plan that matters most is God or the universe’s plan and how one properly plays one’s role.

If one submits to the universal plan of life and starts seeing one’s unique role in the bigger picture, one can become more aware of reality and how stressors are merely noises taking one away from the bigger picture.  One needs to deal with stressors effectively.  In dealing effectively, one will experience a more calm, healthy, and quiet life.

Please also feel free to review AIHCP’s numerous certification programs in Stress Management Consulting, Anger Management Consulting and Spiritual, as well Christian Counseling Certifications.  These training programs can help anyone receive the training, and also information, to live and teach others a less stressful and angry way of living life.

 

 

Mark Moran, MA