Autumn gives way to winter and the medical press headlines are full of bad news; early retirements up, applications for GP training down and the latest, QOF achievements have fallen too. Most clinicians are struggling in various ways. We should remember however that we do not have a monopoly on stress. The private sector knows a thing or two about this area and a few of their methods may just be useful for you:
1. Don't become emotional
Emotion can kill clarity. The only way through a stressful situation is to gain clarity by removing emotion. Then you can do a 360-degree mental walk around the situation and determine the best way to handle it. This mindset has been instrumental in handling tough decisions in our companies.
2. Don't react too quickly
Your first reaction is not always the best one. You can really do some damage by reacting without thinking. Situations that are stressful are usually complicated and can take some time to sort through and really get to the root of the issue.
3. Don't take it out on employees
It's very important not to take out stress on employees. When you're under a lot of pressure it's easy to snap at people, especially if they've created the stress. But employee morale mirrors that of leadership, so it's important to remain calm and in control. Blowing up at an employee will cause negative ripples through your whole team.
4. Think before you speak
In difficult situations, you need to take a deep breath, gather your thoughts and choose your words carefully.
5. Don't play the blame game
When a stressful situation arises we often have the knee jerk reaction of lashing out and looking for someone to blame. Instead, take a moment to reflect on how you contributed to the situation. What assumptions were made? What processes were undocumented? Where did communication fail? See how you can step up, take responsibility and guide your team to a better outcome next time.
6. Don't dwell on your stress level
Put your head down and work toward your goals. If you're overwhelmed, do a handstand! Yes, I'm serious; it's hard to think about the stressful event when you're on your head. Stay there for a minute, then get up and get back at it.
7. Don't comfort eat
In a stressful situation it may seem like chocolate, ice cream, or a large piece of cake is just what the doctor ordered! However, stress eating only leaves you feeling sluggish and off-balance from your normal routine. Before you pick up that much deserved candy bar, think about going for a long walk instead. Exercising releases endorphins, leaving you energised to conquer your stress.
8. Don't just keep working. If you feel stressed, take a break. Whatever you are doing is probably counterproductive anyway.
9. Don't let it show
If you are a leader, you need to demonstrate a level of calmness and clarity for your team -- they look to you for that. However, it is important to vent this stress somehow. Confide in one of your personal relationships, such as your significant other or friends. They will be impartial to it and will be more than happy to cheer you up without expecting anything in return.
10. Don't panic
During stressful moments, step away from the situation and do something to expel the negative energy. Playing sports is very therapeutic for the mind, directs your attention toward performance and puts the stressful situation in the past.
11. Do ask for help
Don't feel you should shoulder all the burden yourself. Share your problems.
Last month we created new content for your patients who may be anxious over the Ebola outbreak, and revised our headache materials in line with newly released BASH guidelines. For a full list of our updated content click here.