Dealing With Stress
The adaptive responses to demands or the adaptive condition of unsatisfied needs. Stress is an imbalance or disharmony in the natural orderliness we seek. It results in behavioral and/or physiological symptoms that may impair one's functioning and possibly lead to inappropriate behavior such as abuse.
The kind of stress healthcare professionals need to be attentive to is the stress resulting from an ongoing problem. Temporary stress, while unpleasant, usually can be handled well by the individual. If not resolved, situational stress may mushroom from a temporary condition to a long-term problem. Ongoing stress is different because there is no relief from it. As it continues day after day, the individuals ability to cope diminishes to the point where he loses sense of control. It is much like the tales told of the ancient Chinese water torture test. One, two, three slow drops of water in a pattern an individual can deal with, but 1000, 5000, even 10000 will cause anyone to breakdown emotionally. Each individual has a limit to their coping abilities.
the symptoms of stress is essential to resolving the problem. One or two symptoms may not indicate serious
stress. Stress can be situational; that is a response to a specific situation that will shortly go
away. The person may be just
having a bad day because of physical discomfort. Do not immediately come to
the conclusion that the individual is experiencing stress that requires
intervention. The easy course of action
for a supervisor or anyone would be to ignore the problem, rationalizing it as
the individuals private concern. But that is not an
acceptable view because the individual is an employee whose behavior affects
his coworkers and the healthcare center's patients. There can be serious job performance
Behavioral Symptoms of Stress
Personal Behaviors Work-Related Behaviors
Irritability, anger - Taking more sick time
Inappropriate laughter - More frequent tardiness
Depression - Increased absenteeism
Impatience, agitation Sarcasm, - bad attitude
Anxiety - Decreased productivity
Moodiness - Unwillingness to help others
Inaction - Patient abuse
Decreased self-esteem - Lack of discretion in public relations
Increased drinking - Forgetfulness
Blaming others - Lack
of attention to details
Physiological Symptoms of Stress
Lump in throat, Insomnia
Tightness in chest, Poor appetite
Shortness of breath, Hypertension
Upset stomach, ulcers Fatigue
Increased heart rate, Diarrhea
Nausea and/or vomiting, Accident prone
Contributing Factors of Stress
1. Personal Stress Factors: circumstances unique to the individual.
Personal problems like poor health, family problems with spouse, children or relatives, financial concerns, death of a close friend or relative, a divorce, move to a new home, and having too much to do and not enough time to do it are common sources of personal stress. For some individuals personal resources and social supports are enough to help them deal with their problems. For others, professional intervention/counseling is required.
2. Self-generated Stress Factors: individual perceptional problems.
Two kinds of chronic perceptional problems lead to stress: negative personal interpretations (nobody likes me) and misinterpretations (always assuming the worst based on incomplete knowledge). It takes a very mature, insightful person to recognize that they have a perceptional problem that contributes to their stress. Professional help is usually required.
3. System-generated Stress Factors: from the environment.
In a health care setting
there are many factors that can create stress.
These include: emotional demands working with the elderly and
chronically ill, personnel shortages that increase the work load for those
present at their jobs and an increase in demands for working overtime, the
physical demands of the job, change in personnel or management, and unpleasant
personal relationships at work.
Supportive management is the key for dealing with
this type of stress.
a) Communicate any type of changes so the employee understands what is happening and why.
b) Introduce new employees, orient them to the facility, and make sure they possess the skills and knowledge to do their jobs effectively.
c) Conduct exit interviews routinely to determine if terminating employees are leaving because of work related stress.
d) In scheduling, make sure the patient care load is distributed fairly, so that each employee has a mix of easy-to-care-for and more demanding patients. Make sure each employee is aware of this process so that no employee sees himself or herself as unfairly assigned or is, in fact, given an unfair workload.
e) Encourage employees to express their concerns before they grow into larger problems.
f) Evaluate alternative ways to schedule and assign work, such as split shifts or CNA's assigned to specialize in certain tasks or duties.
g) Consider floating assignments when employees are having difficulty caring for a specific group of patients, such as the terminally ill, unusually demanding, or physically abusive. This allows all employees an equal break from the emotional and physical demands of caring for these types of patients.
h) Seek job satisfaction information through periodic, anonymous employee surveys. Identify responses that indicate areas that may lead to or are causing employee stress.
Promote personal development to all employees.
A cluster of symptoms, including emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, or a desire to withdraw from people, and reduced accomplishment (working harder and harder while accomplishing less and less). Job stress is effected by other significant factors including obsessive-compulsive or perfectionistic personality traits and bitterness or unresolved anger.
Warning Signs that an Individual is Approaching Job Stress
gripes more and more and enjoys it less and less;
can't stand people;
feels like the school bus driver who said, "I love my bus; I like my route, but I hate every single student who rides my bus";
has trouble separating people from their performance, especially if no one's performance matches up to their rigorous standards;
is experiencing drug or alcohol abuse;
has had a major blowup---yelling at people or collapsing in tears;
or has felt paralyzed when you needed to take action.
Warning Signs that an Individual is Experiencing Acute Job Stress
has experienced a coronary or other serious physical problem;
is experiencing an emotional breakdown or suicidal feelings;
is involved in acting-out behavior---an affair, an arrest for driving while intoxicated;
indicates they are completely overcome by exhaustion or uncontrollable anger.
Warning Signs that an Individual is Facing Chronic Job Stress
continually withdraws physically from their job;
has trouble maintaining contact with people---even eye contact or verbal communication;
lacks the emotional energy to handle the daily hassles of family life;
refuses to discuss their problems or acknowledge a need for help;
quits their job without good reason.
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